I asked my publisher what the release schedule was for Masquerade and he said he hadn’t arranged an editor for it yet. I had to remind him that my wife and I were doing the final edits again as we had done that with The Wildcat’s Burden and produced an acceptable manuscript. He’d agreed and had the final since August, but had forgotten. A good thing Google has room to keep all my correspondance or I’d never know what I had done.
So…sometime in the Spring is the release date. I don’t know how I will start the buzz with that vague target. I guess the thing to do is assume it will appear in April until it doesn’t. He will probably get back to me sometime about the cover and I can remind him that I sent him an iStock picture that he agreed would be a good foundation for a cover. I might have a better idea for release date after that.
Masquerade is my Iskander series version of the old ‘Man in the iron mask’ trope, except Gisel soon learns who he is, but the where he is proves more difficult. I do have a real iron mask in the story, which is more that the original man had—the sources say the mask was of fabric and the iron merely poetic exaggeration. The suggested identity of the original has been anyone from the manservant of an important French nobleman of the 17th century to the real Louis XIVth, but they are all guesses. Gisel knows who her quarry is but has to prove it before the rescue can begin.
The cast in the story includes old hands like the Crown Prince of Lingdon and his uncle the Duke of Marsden; the villainous Zagdorf (of course); Hannan Badry the oceanographer and Gisel’s friend up until the breakup of the relationship with Henrik Matah (so sometime a bit testy as Gisel’s superior officer); Sergeant Crockley, Gisel’s faithful side-kick; Marc Chronon still trying to become Gisel’s lover; and a few other standbys. New characters portrayed include Countess Felicie d’Bormonde, the missing man’s sister; a fisherman called Reeny; Henrik Matah’s new girlfriend, Katya, the daughter of Count Bergrund, the Iskander steelworks landlord; the cause of the whole problem, Chancellor Marin, who hopes to have the Empire save his neck; and the brave Dowager Duchess of Burgundene who takes her time to decide if Gisel is trustworthy.
Masquerade is a bit different than the other Iskander stories in that the young Gisel is in this over her head, and spends much time and energy trying to keep allies in order. The lesson she learns best is that dynastic quarrels can turn around to bite you.