I read The Mask of Mirrors, the first book in the Rook & Rose trilogy, last October, and thoroughly enjoyed it, so I was excited to read the sequel, The Liar’s Knot. The books are written by M. A. Carrick, who is actually two people—authors Marie Brennan and Alyc Helms.
This book continues the story of Ren, a con artist who has adopted the persona of a foreign noblewoman named Renata Viraudax, who, in The Mask of Mirrors, arrived in the city of Nadežra claiming to be the daughter of an exiled member of the Traementis family, wanting reconciliation with her mother’s kin. Ren, assisted by sister Tess who poses as her maid, continues her cons in this installment, but with additional complications—she now has several more identities to juggle, and her secret is known to a masked vigilante known as the Rook. When Renata is invited to join a secret society, she discovers revelations about the corruption leaking into the city.
The plot is complex (I haven’t even touched on half of it in my short summary above) but rewarding. This is a fairly long book (over 600 pages), but I never felt at any point that it dragged. My only regret is that I didn’t pick up the second book immediately after reading the first, so as to better remember some of the smaller details.
The setting is entirely the city of Nadežra, which felt fully fleshed out – the city has distinct districts, a rich history and multiple factions.
My favorite part of the book had to be the characters and their interactions. Along with Ren, the other major players are Derossi Vargo, a former crime lord with a pet spider he communicates telepathically with, and Grey Serrado, a captain in the Vigil (essentially the city’s police department), with ties to the Traementis family. Both of them have secrets and agendas of their own, and a highlight of the book was reading about Ren, Grey, and Vargo trying to figure out what the others were hiding, and who each of them might be able to trust with their own secrets.
I’d highly recommend this to anyone looking for a complex fantasy story (although start with the first book in the series, not this one!). I started book 3 the day after finishing this!