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Masters of Deception
JC Kang, author

For a millennium, Dragonstones atop the world’s pyramids have prevented the Orc Gods from returning and re-enslaving mankind. Now, a brewing war between a vibrant port’s squabbling council of lords and resurgent crime families puts one pyramid at risk.

Only Cassius Larusso can assemble a team to end the impending threat. A descendant of the Diviner who first banished the Orc Gods, he might be convinced to act— as long as it fills his coffers with gold, his stomach with delicious food, and his bed with a different type of delicacy. Unfortunately, his choice of companions is limited to the poor souls who come seeking his sometimes fraudulent divinations:

A half-elf spy tracking an assassin.
A sorceress searching a traitor.
A paladin pursuing his forbidden love.

If he can coax them into putting aside their own agendas and taking up his own, Cassius might be able to stave off a war, secure his city, and write his own destiny. If not, what begins as a back-alley battle may bring about the downfall of mankind.

 

Reviews
Political intrigue and subterfuge rule the day in Kang’s layered fantasy, which opens a new arc in his established Dragon Songs Saga universe and unites four unlikely heroes against mafiosi and a looming orc invasion. Cassius is a diviner in the city of Tokahia, and is also the sworn protector of the pyramid that keeps the orc gods from reclaiming the lands. Brehane is a mystic who is trying to restore her clan’s honor; she accepts an order to find a missing illusionist in hopes that fulfilling this task will help her reclaim her family’s rightful place. Sameer is a paladin searching for his lost love in the brothels of Tokahia. Jie, a half-elf ninja and spy, arrives in Tokahia’s port on a mission to root out a clan traitor. Kang quickly draws the four together and links their missions amid betrayal, political machinations, and outright deceit. Though elves and orcs will be familiar to readers of Western fantasy novels, the worldbuilding is effectively infused with Asian elements. The book’s ending feels even more inconclusive than one might expect from a series launch book; impatient readers should wait for the series to be completed before digging in. This conflict-driven tale of politics and underhandedness will appeal to a wide range of fantasy fans. (BookLife)

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