Westgate, the city moved by trade, and thieves. For fourteen years, the dreaded Night Masks have ruled the city from the shadows. Enter Alias, a familiar hero to fans of realms fiction, she of the enchanted arm. When Alias and Dragonbait return to Westgate, they become embroiled in the twisted plots of "the Faceless", the mysterious and enigmatic ruler of the Night Masks. With the help of the irrepressible Olive Ruskettle, as well as several new allies they delve head first into breaking up Faceless' dark reigns.
Long had the city of Westgate remained a relative mystery to the Realms reader. An odd fact when you see it lies just across the Lake of Dragons from Cormyr. I was thrilled with this look into the manipulative and trade driven society, especially the haughty merchant nobles. Unlike their Cormyte counterparts, these back biting greengrocers count every penny, and think more about the next shipment than the next ball. I also enjoyed the new faces, both the villains and the allies. I have heard people who claim this book is a failure because the story is not epic. Well if you are sick of realms shattering, god-killing epics this title is for you. I thought it was refreshing to see a title in which the villains were mere mortals capable of manipulation without a castle full of necromancers and priests to shove their will down the peasant's throat. A plot where manipulation and betrayal weighed more than the gold spent to buy a dead tarrasque. This was a fine tale, and worth the time and money to read.
However, I feel I must rate this a four star, rather than a five for one particular reason. As another reviewer stated, the portion of the tale that deals with Verovan's Treasure chamber could have used a touch more work, it felt a touch rushed, and endings are oft to feel that way, it's always the hardest part. As to whether it felt cliché, as that reviewer states, I would have to agree. Love conquers all is a relatively common theme, but that's because it's true for the most part; and while I felt the handling of that cliché was managed well, I would have liked to have seen it done differently. Nevertheless, I have to recommend this title, and the trilogy that introduces thee of the main heroes (Alias, Dragonbait, and Olive): The Finder's Stone trilogy. If you can find any of these four titles, snap them up quick.