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Sianim #3

When Demons Walk

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Shamera had spent most of her young life as sorceress and thief, stealing from Southwood's nobility to survive. Now Sham must face the greatest test of her skills...

A killer has struck Southwood, claiming the lives of nobles. Lord Kerim, Reeve of Southwood, turns to Sham for help. Posing as his mistress, she delves behind castle walls to find the killer. But this murderer is no mortal and Sham must use all of her magical wisdom to send the demon away. Because the city of Southwood has nowhere to hide--and no time to run...

272 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published June 1, 1998

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About the author

Patricia Briggs

159 books27.8k followers
Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Patricia Briggs was born in Butte, Montana, to a children’s librarian who passed on to her kids a love of reading and books. Patricia grew up reading fairy tales and books about horses, and later developed an interest in folklore and history. When she decided to write a book of her own, a fantasy book seemed a natural choice. Patricia graduated from Montana State University with degrees in history and German and she worked for a while as a substitute teacher. Currently, she lives in Montana with her husband, children, and six horses and writes full time, much to the delight of her fans.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 280 reviews
Profile Image for Angela (Angel's Guilty Pleasures).
1,548 reviews865 followers
December 22, 2019
When Demons Walk is book three in the Sianim series by Patricia Briggs and Narrated by Jennifer James Bradshaw.

This novel reads as a stand-alone. You don’t have to read in order.

When Demons Walk is a captivating novel. The intrigue and mystery were magical.

Sham, was the daughter of the head of the king's guard and an apprentice magician before the magic hating Cybellians besieged the castle and killed her entire family along with many others. I very much enjoyed Sham as a character. I like how resilient and capable she is. I also loved how she pulled off her different identities and played the roles she needed to play in order to fool those around her and discover who the demon is.

Her life takes a turn after her mentor is killed and revenge on those that hurt him in the past is put on hold. Kerim, the warlord keeper of the castle needs her help. He doesn’t believe in magic and thinks that Sham is just a clever thief, but he’s open-minded and needs her help to find out who’s killing nobles in the castle.

The romance between Kerim and Sham is slow to bloom and is left unfinished at the end. Both are clearly falling for each other, but all we get is a kiss in the end. Briggs doesn’t focus on the romance. She’s more on the world building and having the romance be a slow burn. I feel like this might be the intended path, but since this is her earlier work and it never took off, then we won’t get the completion in this area.

There are a few threads left unfinished in the Sianim series. I’ve read the four books in the this series and I can say that the series isn’t complete, but still a very fun and enjoyable fantasy series to listen too.

Narration: Jennifer James Bradshaw did a fabulous job narrating. The audio was mesmerizing and well done. I was pulled in until the very end. I loved the mystery and learning about each character. I recommend the audio.

Rated: 4 stars

Profile Image for Crystal Starr Light.
1,350 reviews820 followers
July 22, 2016
Bullet Review:

Decent beginning with an ending that deserves a better book. In between is a glorified mess that is the hallmark of an early writer - a half-@$&ed "romance", a shoddy mystery, a wandering plot.

This "summer of love" is turning out to be a miserable bust.

Full Review:

Shamara "Sham" is a wizard apprentice thief who makes her living off tweaking the men who tortured her master, Maur. One day, she comes back to his cottage and he is being killed. He whispers the words "Chen Laut".

Fast forward two months or so (like seriously, because it happens between chapters) and suddenly the Reeve, Lord Kerim, needs help stemming the tide of blood from dead nobles. Enter Shamara, Kerim's Mistress sent to spy (offscreen) on the court.

I like need to NOT pick out my own books to read or something. I am ATROCIOUS at this whole "Summer of Love" thing. I started it to reignite my love of reading and I don't think I've rated anything higher than 2 stars.

Patricia Briggs became a favorite with "Moon Called" and "Steal the Dragon". I snapped up pretty much all of her available books when Borders was around, so sure I would love anything she did.

And then I read "Hob's Bargain".

But you know, that was an early book and I liked "Steal the Dragon" so SURELY I would ADORE "When Demons Walk"! So that's how the book ended upon Summer of Love.

For quite a while, I was heartily enjoying myself. Sham has Briggs' lead female way of talking - being snarky and somewhat naughty in a delightful way. She is fully competent in her skills and respected without having an argument about how she's just as skilled as "the boys".

But the flaws of early Briggs writing popped out more and more. The skipping of important scenes and instead filling in the information JUST BEFORE it becomes a key plot point. The weak romance between Kerim and Sham (when you hear that one "loves" the other, you wonder how because they never really have been shown to act that way towards each other). The "quirky" characters. How all the good guys laugh at Lady Shamara's shenanigans. (The number of times Kerim could barely contain laughter at one of her tricks made me want to spit vomit all over the place.)

When it comes down to it, the book's biggest flaw is its size. Rounding out at a mere 272 pages, we don't have near enough time for Sham to do ANYTHING remotely "investigate-y" and "spy-y". There were times she mentions at the end of a chapter how she will be snooping - and we never see it. We don't see the crucial scene where Sham learns a key element about another character. And at the end, we learn in a massive infodump a bunch of deus ex machina, retconning magic mumbo-jumbo. How a book can be too short and yet feel so long is beyond me.

The climatic showdown with the demon was fantastic once these jokers FINALLY "figured it out" (more like stumbled into it like running into a lamppost while walking). As the scene went on, I pondered over the characters' actions and the magics, I finally started to "get" what was going on. Even the ending, which does not end in a wedding (shock, but a pleasant one!), was a nice one.

I went into this with no other expectation than to have fun. At the end, I felt only so glad to be done, regardless of the beginning excitement and the acceptance of the conclusion. And that's kinda sad, especially since I knew this was a fluffy read.

I would be remiss to say I am not wary of Patricia Briggs, that I am kinda nervous about reading any of her other books, for fear they will be disappointments like "When Demons Walk" and "Hob's Bargain". Hell, I'm scared to reread any of the books I liked, for fear I won't like them anymore. This isn't to say I won't try again, but for this Summer of Love, I'll switch to a different author.

ETA: OMG I completely forgot something! There's also this "plot point" that Briggs has Sham notice MULTIPLE TIMES: how Sham's trunk ends up open or unlocked. Is this EVER explained? Was Sham a moron or was it a demon or was it someone else? We NEVER learn! It's a mystery even at the end, begging the question: why note it multiple times if you won't make use of it later?!
Profile Image for KatieV.
707 reviews385 followers
September 19, 2018
I really enjoyed this and it worked as a standalone, but I can't help but wonder if there wasn't more that was cut by the editor, or if Briggs intended to write a sequel at the time. If you've read my reviews of the rest of the series, you know I have similar feelings on the entire Sianim world. While this is technically book #3, book #4 is a sequel of book #1 and just barely related, so it doesn't answer any of my lingering questions.

The heroine, Sham (Shamera), was the daughter of the head of the king's guard and an apprentice magician before the magic hating Cybellians, followers of Altus, besieged the castle and killed her entire family along with many others. The king's mage and Sham's teacher is blinded and crippled by the order of the invaders. Sham's goal in life is to get revenge on those who convicted the mage of heresy and steal enough gold to get them out of the city where she'll buy a small place in the country. With the rest of the survivors, Sham has been pushed to the horrid White Chapel-esque section of town known as Purgatory. Instead of becoming a prostitute she disguised herself as a boy and took to thieving, a vocation her magical skill-set aided. All of her plans are set aside, however, when her old mentor is brutally slain by a demon.

Sham comes to the attention of Kerim, the warlord keeper of the castle. He came after the siege and slaughter and is not the monster she imagined him to be. He believes magic is mere superstition and Sham just a clever thief, but he's an open-minded likeable alpha (the type Briggs excels at writing). He's also in a wheelchair for much of the story, which was an interesting twist. The two of them, along with a few others, work to defeat the demon.

The question of Altus (spelling?) the god, so prominent in several of the Sianim books, is not resolved. Is he a good thing, a bad thing, a mixed bag? What happens with the Voice of Altus from book #2? While the religion was not a horrible one when practiced by someone with pure intentions - like most religions - some of the followers do horrible things in the name of it. The warrior hero in the book was a devotee until he saw a priest bless a bloody battlefield in Altus' name. Yet, the god himself plays a heroic role that left me and the heroine uncomfortable. It was really an interesting question that I'm afraid will never be answered. Maybe that is the point. His believers call him "the one god" which draws an obvious parallel to the big 3 major religions. Briggs, like the rest of humanity, would be unable to solve the questions and contradictions much of the world faces.

The romance was left in an unfinished state. Both were clearly in love, but a kiss is all we get in the end. Briggs doesn't typically focus on the romance. In the case of Mercy Thompson it is a slow burn that takes a few books to develop. I feel like that was the intended path here.

There are some threads left dangling and it is not on par with Briggs later works, still I enjoyed it and was able to overlook the flaws. A good storyteller can do that. I'm still fondly laughing over the convoluted plot at the heart of Moon Called -- yet, I'll probably re-read it again within the next few months and simply whistle past the bad guy's reasoning. Who cares when there are so many interesting characters and such fascinating world building?
Profile Image for Cheesecake.
2,681 reviews368 followers
April 3, 2022
Patricia Briggs can really set the stage!
Here you have a vanquished city by the Sea now ruled by warriors who come from a hot, dry climate.
The original people of Southwood revere magic, but the conquerors don't even believe it exists. If confronted by real magic they tend to perform witch hunts.
And so the people of Southwood live in an uneasy truce where magic hides and the memory of the violence when they lost to war is still too fresh.
But what can they do when a serial killer's ghastly prowess can only be explained as magic. In fact, it can only be a Demon.

I gave 5 stars because this is the first book I've read from the author's early works that really resonated with me. It's not without problems, but it was so rich in story and setting, that I didn't mind.... too much.

It's pretty hard to talk about this one without spoilers but I will try to keep from that as much as I can outside of spoiler tags.... So be warned it will be spoilery below;

Shamera was a child brought up in the castle before the war when her parents were killed and her only hope was the wizard she studied under. The wizard who was cruelly treated by the new regime and then becomes a victim of the Demon. She lived to bring grief to the men who were so cruel to her master. She keeps herself in check and only wreaks a very mild revenge on them.
After his murder, she is brought in as an undercover spy by the current reeve of the city, Kerim, to find the killer. Kerim doesn't really believe in magic, but he is open to it if he only had proof.
It was kinda ironic really, since his people are followers of Audric who is a 'God'. How can you believe in a God, but not magic?

Anyways, I'm afraid I guessed who the demon was early on, but it didn't deter from the story for me, except that I was disappointed that Sham was fooled so well. I thought PB did a pretty good job throwing out the red herrings and it kept the plot interesting.

I wish PB had spent more thought on the romance side. The romance in this one resonated more then the last 2 books, but it could have been explored so much more that I couldn't help but feel disappointed. I loved the way PB would weave the way Sham was scarred by the war in with her melding into the new court of the conquerors. But damn, I so wanted to hear a conversation about it between Sham and Kerim. So much between them remains unsaid that I found it a bit frustrating.
Kinda like Andre Norton's books. There's romance but it isn't spelled out and elucidated for the readers enjoyment.

Even the ending, while really nail biting in action was only vaguely satisfying romantically.
I liked that the Demon was evil but also had valid reasons for being so evil, and it doesn't come from hell... Gosh i love PB's subtle world building!

The ending was good in an old fashioned 'clean' way, but lacked a lot for romance lovers. Still you can read between the lines.

Safety is good. And I am including big spoilers here for the plot so beware...
Profile Image for Beanbag Love.
565 reviews246 followers
August 8, 2010
I can't say I was disappointed in this book, but I think it's much weaker than Briggs's later efforts.

The world is interesting (although this is the third in a trilogy, apparently, it's the only one I've read), but the story itself is uneven. Toward the end the explanation of the magic was complicated and, after reading one segment about three times I decided to trust it would all work out and moved on. That's not to say it's bad, perhaps just a bit technical and convoluted. It led to a very exciting climax so the confusion was forgivable.

The heroine, Shamera aka "Sham", is a thief who's also a wizard in hiding. The laws of the land do not tolerate magic, so she hides in the slums amongst the rabble who were likewise put out by the invaders who took over the land many years prior.

Kerim, the noble and controversial ruler aka "the Reeve", of the region enlists Sham's aid in identifying and ridding the castle and environs of a serial killer. He brings her in as a thief, not believing in magic, but he's about to get an education.

There are some seriously creepy parts to this story, moments of suspense and a mild romance. The romance was the most disappointing, although I realize Briggs is not a romance writer, it could have used more attention.

There were several moments where I wondered how Sham had stayed alive so long being so obtuse, but she still managed to be incredibly brave, as all Briggs heroines tend to be. She's extremely cheeky, which was amusing, also a Briggs trademark.

The Reeve reminded me of Adam from the Mercy Thompson series. Being reminded of Adam is a good thing. A very good thing.

But there were still unanswered questions. It ends with a quicky chapter that doesn't really give us much insight into what might happen in the future. I want to know how certain things work out, not the least of which is the romance.

Fans of Briggs's "Mercy Thompson" and "Alpha and Omega" series will probably enjoy reading this work from her backlist, but those just starting out might want to jump ahead to those current hits.
Profile Image for Susan.
1,582 reviews89 followers
January 22, 2019
read 7/5/1999

sometimes I pick up a book JUST because of who did the cover -- and this Luis Royo cover was no exception. I've now been enjoying Patricia Briggs since 1999

re-read 3/27/2015
Profile Image for Marsha.
2,970 reviews52 followers
December 10, 2009
One of the things I enjoy most about the writing style of Patricia Briggs is she takes average females and makes them heriones by their cunning, personality, empathy, self-discovery and shear determination. Briggs is a master at weaving an alternative reality and making you feel like you are there. Sham (Shamera)has entered a life of crime when her island was invaded and taken over by Cybellians. She formerly lived in the palace with her servant parents. However, they were killed and she now is an apprentice to a wizard and steals from the people who enslaved her master. They think she is a boy.

When the Reeve rescues Sham from an overzealous guard, she feels bound to accept his request to help him discover who is killing aristicrats in his kingdom. She enters the world of the kingdom by playing the role of his mistress. Together they discover the culprit while discovering they have more in common than they first believed.

While this is not Briggs at her best, it is a good read.
Profile Image for Marina Finlayson.
Author 23 books233 followers
June 18, 2018
Really enjoyed this fantasy from Patricia Briggs. I didn't know she wrote anything besides urban fantasy. It was a fun, demon-hunting, murder mystery cum romance, so a little bit of everything! Would love to read more with these characters, but sadly it seems to be a one-off.
Profile Image for Book Chomper.
133 reviews22 followers
June 13, 2020
Thief. Mage. Spy. Sham would have to be my favourite character after Mercy. There was just something smart, sexy and capable about her that I loved.
The romance was secondary but had a nice heat to it. The murder mystery plot was excellent with lots of red herrings. And the resolution was clever. My only complaint that there is no second book featuring Sham.
Profile Image for Louisa.
6,899 reviews31 followers
January 23, 2023
This was another amazing book, I loved what it added to the world, and I can't wait to finish out this series!
Profile Image for Seth Kenlon.
Author 8 books12 followers
December 17, 2014
Sham is a low-ranking mage, female but sometimes mistaken for a young male in part for her rogue-ish penchant for petty thievery. She returns to her master only to find that he has been slaughtered by who-knoweth-what. So it becomes Sham's job to find the killer, and this leads her to a wide variety of smaller tasks, resulting in a pretty good ending.

I quite liked this book. Could have been a little more graphic and I would not have minded, but as it is, it's suitable for any age. It's a good fantasy with many of your classic fantasy set-ups, with just a few turned on their heads. The leading man, for instance, is crippled for all but maybe the last few chapters. The leading character, obviously, is a female who is both a mage and a rogue, but for her investigation she has to play the part of a laey of the court for a while. There's a lot in here, very subtly, dealing with perception, image, and identity. But it's all subtle and you can make of it what you will (or ignore it).

The murder plot does sometimes wander a bit, but the characters are good enough to make you want to follow nevertheless.

I recommend this book.
Profile Image for Miki.
1,135 reviews
December 23, 2021
It's a good thing I did not read When Demons Walk before I discovered Briggs' Mercy Thompson. With due respect to Patricia Briggs, this is not her finest moment. If a Harlequin Romances had a Paranormal line, this book would be in it.

Consider: A spunky heroine, not classically beautiful but striking, meets a slightly older man in authority. She is a master of magic, he is steeped in reality. She goes undercover as his mistress, wears some stunning clothes, they have adventures together, she wears more stunning clothes, they vanquish the bad guy but she plays a leading role in said vanquishing, and they fall in love while she wears stunning clothes. End of story. Sound familiar??

It's not contemptible, but I'm very happy to say that Ms. Briggs got a WHOLE lot better! Unless they just happen to fall into my hands when I'm dying for something to read, I doubt if I'll read the others in the series.

Update, 2021: Nope, still bad, maybe even worse. This one goes as a trade-in.
Profile Image for Shaitarn.
497 reviews35 followers
May 10, 2022
3.5 stars.

Former sorcerer's apprentice Shamera has been working as a thief since her home country was conquered by Easterners twelve years ago. The Easterners don't believe in magic, but now with an apparently supernatural killer murdering the nobility, Lord Kerim, the Reeve of Southwood, needs her help. Posing as his mistress, Sham is smuggled into the castle and needs to use all her skills to find the killer, before she becomes another victim.

I first read this book years ago and enjoyed it. This time, I still enjoyed it, but thought it was okay rather than really good. This book is the third in a loosely-linked series that can be read as stand-alone novels (which I originally did). I can't fault the characterization and the plot is interesting and fast-moving. The magic was engrossing. Why I didn't give it more stars is because it was good rather than excellent. And I'd really like a map, showing the many countries of this series so we could have an idea of how it's laid out.

But these are minor gripes; if you enjoy fast-moving, fairly light fantasy, particularly with a strong dose of murder mystery and some humour thrown in, you may enjoy this book.
Profile Image for Graylark.
899 reviews42 followers
May 31, 2019
I loved both hero and heroine. They were both fun and laughed a lot with each other, and were satisfyingly clever and capable.

The story ended satisfyingly as far as the plot is concerned. Romance-wise, however, it was just left hanging with more of an assumed ending than a real one.
Profile Image for Jacey.
Author 26 books98 followers
March 10, 2012
This gives the impression of being a slight book (slighter than it actually is) from Patricia Briggs early work (1998). It's set in the Sianim universe though with no crossover characters from Steal the Dragon except for the Prophet of Altis (who's mentioned but doesn't appear on the page). It’s slight but it's absorbing, a crossover between fantasy, murder mystery and romance. Sham, sorceress and thief was exiled to Purgatory (the bad part of the bad part of town) when the hated Cybellians invaded Southwood and killed her family (minor nobles). When her mentor is killed, she accepts a job to tackle the demon responsible on behalf of Lord Kerim, the Cybellian Reeve of Southwood, now ensconced in the castle where her parents were slaughtered during Southwood’s last defensive action. Despite their differences Kerim is not at all what she expected and suddenly the fact that the demon is sucking the life and health out of him makes it a lot more personal.

Briggs misses some opportunities for angst and conflict. Sham seems to put the past behind her very quickly, once she gets inside the castle and gets a sniff at Kerim's testosterone, but that’s only a slight quibble. This fairly rolls along, making each page a pleasure to turn. It may be early Patricia Briggs, but she’s already got a sure touch.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
167 reviews
November 27, 2008
Shamera is a wizard, she has been a thief for the last 12 years protecting and caring for her Master the Wizard Maur, who was blinded and tortured 12 yrs ago when the kingdom was overrun. Her father and mother were murdered then also. Now she is just Sham the thief.

Kerim is Reeve of Southwood. He rules from the palace where Sham used to live. One night while he rides through Purgatory he sees Sham and speaks to her at the docks. By the time she gets home it is to find Maur in a battle for life with a demon, who is invisible. As Maur dies, Sham collapses and holds his body. The watch finds them and intends to torture and kill her.

Kerim intervenes and dispatches the Lord of Law and his lackeys. Later after more killings, some among the courtiers, Sham is persuaded by a friend to help Kerim find the killer. She has been searching on her own. The only problem is Kerim doesn't believe in magic or demons. I guess Sham will just have to convince him and somehow discover how to kill something that is unkillable.
Profile Image for Meep.
2,060 reviews201 followers
October 13, 2012
I love this book; it's not as polished as Brigg's later series (this is the third book in the verse though they all read as standalones) but it's light easy reading.

The story is Sham's. Sham is very self-assured and enjoys her dressing up and shocking people. I liked Kerim's enjoyment of her mischief, there's no great romance or sparks but more a warm playful appreciation of each other, I could see these two getting together amongst a lot of laughter. Their both strong independant people. It would have been nice to see more of them having got together but then what's shown is enough for what the book is.

There's some mystery and even a demon. The villian you could actually pity at the end, I prefer stories where there's a glimpse beyond the black/white of good/evil.

It's got a firm place on my comfort-read shelf. Deserves to be considered for it's own worth rather than compared to Brigg's later books.
Profile Image for K.
1,094 reviews12 followers
December 15, 2015
The 3rd book by Briggs set in this particular world, it's ok. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I hadn't read the 2nd book in the series. This book introduces a completely new set of characters, which would be ok, but it references large-scale events from the previous book...but doesn't really address what had happened from book 2 to book 3. Since book 2's plot pretty much revolved around this event (the gathering of information about an impending war & the identity of the enemy's army), it seemed really odd to have skipped completely to the end of the war, and fast forwarded several years beyond it. The fact that it was also about the typical street-wise girl getting the young prince didn't excite me. IF you're already a fan of Briggs & IF you don't really have much else to read, then pick this one up. It won't piss you off to have read it.
Profile Image for Lisa Denn.
507 reviews2 followers
January 2, 2016
Patrica Briggs' When Demons Walk was good but it lacked the 1,2,3 punch I experienced after reading Masques and Steal the Dragon.

When Demons Walk follows the adventures and missteps of the story's main characters Sham, a mage and thief, and Lord Kerim, the Reeve of Southwood. Hired by Kerim to pose as his mistress, Sham uses her knowledge of magic and skills as a thief to slip in and out of rooms in the Castle as well as the homes of Southwood's upper class to find information about the elusive demon running amuck in the Castle known as Chen Laut.

In my opinion if the author had put as much effort into developing her magic system as she did her characters the story would have been much more enjoyable. When compared with other books I have read When Demons Walk lacks the action and drama I've come to expect and love in this genre.
Profile Image for Estara.
799 reviews128 followers
October 23, 2010
Still on my comfort rereading trip this book holds up extremely well on a second reread. You have the mystery, lots of great characters, lovely descriptions of sexy wardrobe ^^, a nicely understated romance and a villain who is so alien that you can eventually feel sorry for it. Not to mention that at least the setting of Purgatory and the Shadow Tides come alive.

We get two more memorable women in this one, other than the heroine, which is better than usual for P. Briggs. Also this is very much the heroine's book, so another plus.
Profile Image for Anna.
5 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2013
I love you Paticia Briggs.


Everything in this book was awesome. In fact, it was so awesome that it was awesomer (not a real word, I know) than the other books in this series, which are also awesome. I tried to find a picture of what I imagine Sham looks like, but I couldn't find anything that would work, so have some happy minions instead.

3 reviews34 followers
February 16, 2014
So far of Patricia Briggs AU medieval fantasy books that I've read, I'd say this was her weakest. The characters didn't seem to go through much development which is normal for a medieval fantasy because they grow throughout the series, but as far as I can tell these characters aren't getting another book. The previous books in this world, the characters actually seemed to face tough choices that helped them grow instead of just going through the plot as they seemed to in this one. Personally, I am not as impressed with her medieval fantasy books as much as her urban fantasy.
Profile Image for Kat.
1,703 reviews103 followers
March 5, 2019
Basic plot: A revenge-seeking apprentice-mage-turned-thief hunts the demon that slew her former teacher.

If that sounds convoluted, there may be a reason for that. There's a lot of backstory to this tale. It's a page-turner, though not as good as Steal the Dragon.
Profile Image for Elena.
821 reviews86 followers
January 9, 2015
This was better than I remembered. A fun, uncomplicated sword and sorcery tale. The denouement felt a little abrupt, especially the romantic resolution, but other than that this was an enjoyable read.
Profile Image for Vicki.
376 reviews21 followers
April 24, 2011
I just love Patricia Briggs!
Profile Image for BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme.
6,668 reviews1,282 followers
January 29, 2011
I read this a while ago when I first started reading Ms. Briggs. I gave it a four star yet I can't remember the story. How is that possible? I think my ratings are harder now than before. :/
December 13, 2018
I didn't know that this was the third book in a series when I read it and even after I was finished I still didn't realise that it was part of a series. This keeps happening to me, why aren't they marked clearly? I didn't know it was a series until I looked up the book on Goodreads.
It doesn't really matter, it certainly doesn't read like it's part of a series. The main character Sham starts out as someone interesting and I wanted to know more about her but halfway through the book I started to lose interest. She is meant to be this strong independent person but she started to do stupid shit that irritated me really quickly. When she was offered a job by the Reeve and was taken to meet him she stole some small objects from the castle along the way. Not as she was leaving, but before she met the Reeve! This was completely unprofessional and childish behaviour that was uncalled for when Sham is supposed to have some moral integrity even though she is a thief. It went against the character and there wasn't a good reason for it.
The romance between Sham and the Reeve irritated me as well, the story would have worked better without it. Plus Sham was meant to be posing as his mistress so it felt tacky the whole pretending to be intimate with each other element that then forced them to develop actual feelings. Regardless of anything else that was happening. Once again Sham was lacking in professionalism and she was meant to be in mourning for her mentor who was the only family she'd had left which just made her seem desperately lonely. She never once questioned her emotional state and took it for granted that the Reeve would return her feelings, probably because she was so physically attractive. Sham's physical appearance is described in detail, she is capable of passing herself off as a boy but despite that she had large breasts and a womanly figure? What? Excuse me? This would have been more believable if she had used magic to disguise herself, but at no point is it mentioned that she used magic for this purpose.
The mystery unravels too quickly and too conveniently. Sham is assisted by newly introduced characters that are trusted far too easily and clues are handed to her so she never has to figure out things for herself. She spent so much time pretending to be a silly, brainless mistress that she actually became one. The ending was unsatisfying. One star for the pretty cover, cause that's what made me pick this book up and one star for the beginning of the book that showed so much promise. It's a shame it turned out to be such a disappointment.
Profile Image for Skye.
1,345 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2019
I forgot how much I love this book. I first read it about six years ago, and although I remembered that it was fun, I didn’t really remember anything else about it. Which kind of made this reread like discovering the story again for the very first time. And it was amazing. And beautiful. And really difficult to put down… I had to actually put a timer on to stop myself from over reading. Especially when I actually had study and things to do.

I love the premise of this storyline and the world in which this tale is based. It is a beautiful medieval city which is steeped in history and culture. There have been wars and pasts that have been won and lost beautiful you even open the first page of the story. This attention to detail and world creation is one of the things that I have always loved about Patricia Briggs. The fact that this is a standalone novel with this level of detail is somehow far more impressive and intriguing than many of her longer running series. After all, the same level of world building and history creation goes into this single story that has gone into the longer series. Or at least, that’s the way it feels to me.

I like the fact that there is a little romance in this story, but it isn’t the emphasis, rather there is a hint of people developing feelings for each other. And that’s it. it’s enough to help raise the stakes of the story. But not enough to overtake any of the storyline. Rather, it is a tale of battles and intrigue. A tale that makes you want to know just who the bad guy is… and when it’s finally figured out… how to get rid of it!
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