Cover Image: The Veiled Masters

The Veiled Masters

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Member Reviews

The first thing to get out of the way is the Twilight Imperium aspect. Apparently, this entertaining series of space opera adventure books is a spin-off from a popular board game, Twilight Imperium. I mention this in case some fans of the game are prompted to pick up the books. However, if you are a reader who generally avoids reading books connected to TV series, films and games (like me!) you can ignore this nugget of information. If I hadn’t told you the origin of the novel, there’s nothing in the storytelling, characterisation or worldbuilding that would give it away.

One of the aspects that I really like is that although this book is set within the same world as The Necropolis Empire, it is essentially a standalone, even though there are characters from previous adventures that pop up, giving us further insights into their motivations and vulnerabilities. This time, the conspiracy our plucky black-ops heroine is scrambling to head off is truly horrific. Space opera is difficult to write well, as the storyline is often pan-galactic in scope and requires frequent changes of scene and character in order to fully explore all aspects and consequences of the narrative arc. Pratt’s upbeat, energetic style skilfully avoids all the pitfalls, instead giving us intriguing, layered characters, despite the necessary scene changes; and a clear plotline that emerges from the twisty conspiring which held me from the beginning.

I very much like that fact that Pratt’s characters are morally ambiguous. Our protagonists are often self-serving and a bit dodgy. While the ultimate antagonists are not necessarily evil monsters – even though the fate they have in mind is a terrible one for millions of unsuspecting sentient beings. One of the big attractions of Pratt’s writing is that while he is often dealing with dark deeds, the tone of his books tends not to get overly grim, as there are some nice touches of humour throughout to leaven the enormity of the threat. I understand that this is the last of his Twilight Imperium novels – which I very much regret. As ever, tucking into this adventure was a blast and I look forward to reading more from this skilful, entertaining author. While I obtained an arc of The Veiled Masters from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.
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The Veiled Masters is the final installment in Tim Pratt’s wonderful Twilight Imperium trilogy.  With elements of a space opera combined with intrigue, espionage, the occasional laugh and a whole galaxy this series has been one of my favourites. While you do not necessary need to read the other two titles in this series to understand this final installment if you love Sci-Fi and any of the things I just mentioned you really should do! Also if you love Twilight Imperium but I thought that would be obvious. Pratt really brings the worlds of the game to life and I defy anyone not to enjoy these!
First of all lets address why I am slightly biased to this being my favourite in the series one of the main characters caught up in the shifting balance of power is a Hacan, a humanoid lion-like alien race which happens to be one of my favourite in the game. On top of this the novel is full of tension from the start. Unseen forces are destablising the whole galaxy. Controlling or replacing those who can help them again power. With it being almost impossible to know who you can trust or who is just a puppet on a string the tension and suspense does not let up.
On top of this tight plot we have a series of memorable and enjoyable characters some of which thankfully break up the tension and worry of this galaxy wide conspiracy with much needed sarcasm or tongue-in-cheek moments. I have to say I think all characters left an impression. Pratt’s writing is brilliantly smooth and he manages to bring something to each character that makes them get stuck in your head (in the best possible sense).
I am sad this series is over but I am incredibly happy we got to read and experience it. I also adored the ending which does leave the door open for us to return to the worlds of Twilight Imperium in the future!
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The Veiled Masters is the third book in Tim Pratt's trilogy of stand alone tie-in books with the space opera board game "Twilight Imperium".  I've still never played - and had honestly never even heard of - Twilight Imperium, but I've enjoyed Pratt's other space opera work, and did enjoy both of his prior Twilight Imperium tie-in novels, especially the first one, The Fractured Void (see my review here).  That first book featured a bunch of really fun characters and humorous situations, particularly with its two antagonists - a fun loving secret agent from one faction and a serious but sarcastic security officer from another who got entangled (both platonically and romantically) - and the second book was also enjoyable, even if it lacked a lot of the humor.  So I was happy to get a copy of the third book for breezy enjoyable fun.  

And boy did I get that here, with a book that's probably my favorite of the trilogy.  And while this book remains stand alone, it's also in large part a reunion of the main characters from book 1, particularly those antagonists, who return in glorious fashion.  The result is a space opera novel that's a ton of fun - especially if you've read The Fractured Void and know the returning characters (although such foreknowledge isn't necessary) - and is exactly what I wanted.  

--------------------------------------------------Plot Summary--------------------------------------------------------
Terrak is technically a Hacan trade ambassador - but really in name only.  He's a being that loves his pleasures, enjoys socializing with others, and making money in various deals and holding power or playing political games isn't really his thing.  But when he decides to look into an associate of his - another ambassador - who is acting strangely, he finds himself attacked and then framed for that ambassador's murder....and then rescued by human secret agent Amina Azad.  

Azad, employed by an unknown faction, informs him that he's stumbled upon a deadly conspiracy, one with designs on manipulating all the factions in the galaxy....factions that usually squabble but instead are suddenly merging into two grand alliances.  Together Terrak and Azad go on the run for answers, pursued by forces from every faction working well as the conspiracy behind it all.  

To survive, and to possibly save the day - something Terrak never really cared for - they'll have to work together, and with others, to reveal the conspiracy and stop it before it gets what it wants....but can they manage to do that when they have no way of knowing whom to trust in the entire galaxy?  
The Veiled Masters features Terrak as its first person protagonist, but like other books in this series, frequently switches to third person point of view chapters focusing upon one of several other characters: Azad, Felix, and Severyne.  Azad is the most prominent as she's always alongside Terrak from the beginning, but Terrak remains the main character, and he's a fun new character to center this story: he's sociable, good hearted - unlike some of the other protagonists, he has a conscience - while being a bit self-centered in trying to cater to his tastes....without actually being narcissistic.  He also has some really fun hidden depths in him, in how he's managed to forge connections through socializing and illicit backdoor trade de

He's a bit out of sorts for much of the book as he has to deal with Azad's fun-loving nutty secret agent act, but he's a very nice addition to Pratt's cast of characters as the story here deals with a fun typical space opera conspiracy: a bunch of peoples in various factions being mind controlled by a mysterious entity, with the book keeping you guessing about who might be leaking intelligence to the enemy (although it's fairly guessable).  The various things and people Terrak and Azad have to deal with are nicely done and the prose moves at a very enjoyable pace as they unravel the conspiracy, travel to numerous planets and locations, and save the galaxy....however unwittingly.  So the main plot here and main character work well enough to make this an enjoyable space opera novel, which shows off the Twilight Imperium world for readers who are coming in cold here.

But really what made me love this book so much was the return of The Fractured Void's major characters - Felix, Azad, and Severyne: well mainly the latter two, as Felix plays kind of a straightlaced ship captain this time instead of greedy pirate.  But Azad's hilariously upbeat fun-loving secret agent act remains tremendously fun (and funny) and Severyne's cynical serious take (albeit now a bit lightened up by her past two books' worth of experiences) remains excellent as she speaks her mind and adapts to the new circumstances.  And the way the two clearly still share feelings for each other is just so much fun - I would absolutely read a book that was just a Rom-Com space opera plot between the two of them, and I enjoyed every moment of their chapters here, which end with a really delightful moment.  

So yeah, there's really not much more to say here - there's nothing serious in this book, and it's space opera fun that's not too long and without much impact, but it's executed oh so well and is just so much fun, that well....sometimes you need that, and it's exactly what I want when I do.
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Wow this was so much fun! Delightful and memorable characters take on a sinister and menacing conspiracy but with so much humor and action that really kept me on my toes. 

I went into this a little concerned because I had not realized it was part of a series nor do I have any experience with the game it's based on, but I thought it worked really well as a standalone. There are mentions of times that these characters have interacted before, which I assume would have taken place in the earlier books but it certainly didn't hinder my enjoyment.

I thought the mystery was really interesting and loved the conspiracy/who can you trust feel of the story and really loved some of the characters, Amina Azad in particular was the best.

I think the only thing holding this back from being a full 5 stars for me is the ending. After all that work building up tension, I thought the conflict resolved just a little too quickly for my preferences. That being said, I had a great time reading this and look forward to going back into this series/world and to future works by Tim Pratt.
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𝗧𝗵𝗲 𝗩𝗲𝗶𝗹𝗲𝗱 𝗠𝗮𝘁𝘀𝗲𝗿𝘀 𝟰/𝟱⭐️

So good! Tim Pratt is an amazing story teller, and this book sucked me in! 

The balance of power is shifting, with bold new alliances, unknown invaders, and the rumored return of the galaxy’s ancient masters. When black-ops spy Amina Azad saves a Hacan ambassador from assassination, she draws him into her investigation of a vast conspiracy: unseen forces are destabilizing the whole galaxy, at the worst possible time. Pursued by agents from dozens of other factions, they can only make progress by allying with their apparent enemies. But even they might be compromised – duped into action by a secret puppet-master. How can they trust an alliance when they can’t trust themselves?

The world building was amazing, and it was very easy to follow! I was worried in the beginning that I would be hopelessly lost. However, even though a lot of places and characters are introduced, it wasn’t hard for me to keep everything straight. This book is definitely beginner (sci-fi) friendly and I would highly recommend! 

The only hiccup I had with it, and this could definitely be a sci-fi genre issue rather than a book one, is that the names are hard to read and don’t roll of the tongue. Also, there were so many new characters being introduced it seemed a tad much at times. 

Other than that this book was very entertaining! I was really routing for them to succeed and I was so entranced by the conspiracy! I didn’t know who to trust! If you are a fan of sci-fi books I would definitely recommend!
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A delightful adventuresome space opera! As the third book in Tim Pratt's Twilight Imperium series it was nice to reencounter major characters and settings from the earlier books. The danger and risks this time were more serious than ever and the story quite entertaining. There was no shortage of spaceships, wormholes, interesting technology, aliens, espionage, shady diplomats, and a satisfyingly set of story arcs.

Many thanks to Tim Pratt and Aconyte books for kindly providing an advanced electronic review copy of this wonderful story.
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This book has a really menacing conspiracy and still lets the three series’ protagonists swagger and amuse. This felt like a concluding volume but I hope there is more to come. If not, delightful capstone volume.

Overall a good book
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Thanks, Netgalley and Publisher for the opportunity to read and review! 
Very intriguing sci-fi space novel! It's part of a series, which I still have to check the other installments, but the conspiracy plot and mystery in this one keeps you on edge from beginning to end. I loved it!
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This was the book I was waiting for. Tim Pratt is a great writer, smooth and elegant. His earlier books in this series were, for me, a bit too casual and tongue-in-cheek.  But this book has a really menacing conspiracy and still lets the three series’ protagonists swagger and amuse.  This felt like a concluding volume but I hope there is more to come. If not, delightful capstone volume.
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