Master of One

HarperTeen. Nov. 2020. 544p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062941442.
Gr 8 Up–When Rags the thief gets too cocky, one of Queen Ever-Bright’s mages captures him and implants a shard of mirrorglass in his heart. Rags must navigate a multi-trapped, ancient Fae labyrinth for the mage, or die. So far, the labyrinth has killed all the mage’s other thieves, much as the ruthless Queen and her Queensguard exterminated the Fae. Foul-mouthed, iconoclastic Rags is determined to survive, but what he finds is not exactly the treasure the Queen demands; it is the start of another quest that will draw in more of the remaining good souls in a world rapidly falling to Queen Ever-Bright’s evil. Told in many voices—human, Fae, magical Fae creation—this imaginative fantasy maintains a breakneck pace while still imbuing every main character with heart, nuance, and, for most, witty banter. While ethnicity is not overt, the authors describe characters with a variety of skin tones. The novel also features queer and trans protagonists, and a disabled character. Although evil characters are more one-note, the world is well built, and the magic is dazzling and creative. Violence and profanity abound, appropriate to the situations, characters, and genre. The occasional sweet touches of romance do not, as yet, go beyond kisses.
VERDICT This sterling start to a high fantasy series features creative world-building, nuanced and witty characters, good versus evil, a perilous quest, and a touch of romance for both queer and straight characters. Recommended for most fantasy lovers.

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