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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2021 by Bryn Neuenschwander and Alyc Helms

Excerpt from Rook & Rose: Book Two copyright © 2021 by Bryn Neuenschwander and Alyc Helms

Excerpt from The Ranger of Marzanna copyright © 2020 by Jon Skovron

Cover design by Lauren Panepinto

Cover illustration by Nekro

Cover copyright © 2021 by Hachette Book Group, Inc.

Map by Tim Paul

Author photograph by John Scalzi

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The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book without permission is a theft of the author’s intellectual property. If you would like permission to use material from the book (other than for review purposes), please contact permissions@hbgusa.com. Thank you for your support of the author’s rights.


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First Edition: January 2021

Simultaneously published in Great Britain by Orbit

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Carrick, M. A., author.

Title: The mask of mirrors / M.A. Carrick.

Description: First edition. | New York, NY : Orbit, 2021. | Series: Rook rose ; book 1

Identifiers: LCCN 2020011541 | ISBN 9780316539678 (trade paperback) | ISBN 9780316539661

Subjects: GSAFD: Fantasy fiction.

Classification: LCC PS3603.A77443 M37 2020 | DDC 813/.6—dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2020011541

ISBNs: 978-0-316-53967-8 (trade paperback), 978-0-316-53969-2 (ebook)




Title Page





Part I

Chapter 1: The Mask of Mirrors

Chapter 2: The Face of Gold

Chapter 3: The Hidden Eye

Chapter 4: The Kindly Spinner

Chapter 5: The Face of Ages

Chapter 6: Saffron and Salt

Part II

Chapter 7: Seven As One

Chapter 8: Pouncing Cat

Chapter 9: Jump at the Sun

Chapter 10: Pearl’s Promise

Chapter 11: A Spiraling Fire

Chapter 12: Drowning Breath

Part III

Chapter 13: A Brother Lost

Chapter 14: The Mask of Bones

Chapter 15: The Face of Glass

Chapter 16: Three Hands Join

Chapter 17: The Peacock’s Web

Chapter 18: Aža’s Call

Part IV

Chapter 19: Labyrinth’s Heart

Chapter 20: The Mask of Chaos

Chapter 21: The Mask of Ashes

Chapter 22: Two Roads Cross

Chapter 23: Storm Against Stone

Chapter 24: The Face of Balance


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The lodging house had many kinds of quiet. There was the quiet of sleep, children packed shoulder to shoulder on the threadbare carpets of the various rooms, with only an occasional snore or rustle to break the silence. There was the quiet of daytime, when the house was all but deserted; then they were not children but Fingers, sent out to pluck as many birds as they could, not coming home until they had purses and fans and handkerchiefs and more to show for their efforts.

Then there was the quiet of fear.

Everyone knew what had happened. Ondrakja had made sure of that: In case they’d somehow missed the screams, she’d dragged Sedge’s body past them all, bloody and broken, with Simlin forcing an empty-eyed Ren along in Ondrakja’s wake. When they came back a little while later, Ondrakja’s stained hands were empty, and she stood in the mildewed front hall of the lodging house, with the rest of the Fingers watching from the doorways and the splintered railings of the stairs.

“Next time,” Ondrakja said to Ren in that low, pleasant voice they all knew to dread, “I’ll hit you somewhere softer.” And her gaze went, with unerring malice, to Tess.

Simlin let go of Ren, Ondrakja went upstairs, and after that the lodging house was silent. Even the floorboards didn’t creak, because the Fingers found places to huddle and stayed there.

Sedge wasn’t the first. They said Ondrakja picked someone at random every so often, just to keep the rest in line. She was the leader of their knot; it was her right to cut someone out of it.

But everyone knew this time wasn’t random. Ren had fucked up, and Sedge had paid the price.

Because Ren was too valuable to waste.

Three days like that. Three days of terror-quiet, of no one being sure if Ondrakja’s temper had settled, of Ren and Tess clinging to each other while the others stayed clear.

On the third day, Ren got told to bring Ondrakja her tea.

She carried it up the stairs with careful hands and a grace most of the Fingers couldn’t touch. Her steps were so smooth that when she knelt and offered the cup to Ondrakja, its inner walls were still dry, the tea as calm and unrippled as a mirror.

Ondrakja didn’t take the cup right away. Her hand slid over the charm of knotted cord around Ren’s wrist, then along her head, lacquered nails combing through the thick, dark hair like she was petting a cat. “Little Renyi,” she murmured. “You’re a clever one… but not clever enough. That is why you need me.”

“Yes, Ondrakja,” Ren whispered.

The room was empty, except for the two of them. No Fingers crouching on the carpet to play audience to Ondrakja’s performance. Just Ren, and the stained floorboards in the corner where Sedge had died.

“Haven’t I tried to teach you?” Ondrakja said. “I see such promise in you, in your pretty face. You’re better than the others; you could be as good as me, someday. But only if you listen and obey—and stop trying to hide things from me.”

Her fingernails dug in. Ren lifted her chin and met Ondrakja’s gaze with dry eyes. “I understand.

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