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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 10 September 2003
Within the first ten minutes of opening this fantastic book's cover I was hooked! Every moment had me interested and Mary Hoffmans portrayal of the strangely familar town of 'Bellezza' is truly wonderful!
We first meet Lucien (one of the main characters) in his bed at home. He has cancer and, as a relatively modern issue, this shows us the stark contrast between his own world and that of sixteenth century 'Talia.'
Lucien is transported, whilst sleeping, to this beautiful and tangible world where he meets a native, by the name of Arianna.
I will say nothing more of the plot, but I would recommend anyone who loves adventure and fantasy to delve into this magical and intriguing world which Mary Hoffman has created!
It contains a terrific blend of intrigue, murder, romance and, of course, magic!
You won't want to stop reading!
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on 19 November 2002
I really enjoy reading any type of fantasy, so when I saw this book at half price in a boookshop I thought I'd try it. I wasn't sure if it would be particularly good at first; I wasn't sure if the story line would appeaal to me.(I generally like books such as Tamora Pierce's and Robin McKinley's 'The Hero and the Crown-war books set in the past). However I found myself really getting into this story even though half of it is set in modern day Britain.
The book is about a teenage boy who is dying of cancer. When his father gives him a notepad to write things down on (some days he hasn't got the energy to speak) he finds himself travelling to Bellezza, while he is unconscious, a city very similar to Venice, whose ruler is a Duchessa rather than a Doge. There he meets a girl called Arianna who is determined to get the law changed so that girls can be gondoliers. Besides becoming very good friends with her, his name is changed to Luciano, and he also finds out that he is a Stravagante-a person who can travel between worlds-and is a very powerful magician. I won't say any more or I will ruin the story but there is a murder plot involved...
I did not give this book five stars because I don't think the character development is as good as it could be, and also, the storyline could have been slightly better, although it was very good. There was also not enough said about the relationship between Luciano and Arianna. However, if there are sequels, this may be sorted out. I would certainly recommend reading this book anyway-it is definitely worth your while.
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on 27 August 2009
City of Masks is the first in Mary Hoffman's thrilling stravaganza series. Lucien, a boy suffering from cancer gets a strange note-book. This notebook takes him back in time to the City of Masks, (Venice) in Talia (Italy). Lucien is soon wrapped up in the city's thrall of magic, madness, mysteries, death and excitment with friendship that will last lifetimes.

This is a very enjoyable book, which leads on to a fantastic series, so if you are wondering what to read-this will keep and get you hooked, time and time again. I would recommend this for any between 8 (at the very youngest, and definitely an 'advanced' reader) and 18yrs old, boys and girls both. I would say that this is moreso a young adult book, but would be okay for younger readers.

Mary Hoffman has a lovely touch, making the fantasy real-a lovely book to escape to, that I would recommend to all my friends, and wouldn't be embarrassed to explain to my parents.

A must read. Brilliant.
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on 20 January 2003
Lucien lives in London and has been restricted to his bed by a life threatening illness.
One day, when clutching a notebook given to him by his Dad, he falls asleep and is transported to a Venice-like city, 500 years ago. The countries and places are similar to those in 16th Century England with some differences in culture, history, technology and religion.
He discovers that he is a Stravagante - someone who can "teleport" from our world to theirs and vice-versa.
How will he cope in a strange country? How will he know how to get back to London, and when faced by death from risky escapades in an unknown world, how will he get back to his real home in London?
Belleza, the name for the alternate Venice, is full of treachery, murder and romance - and that's just the politics...
Mary Hoffman sculpts Belezza with the care and quality of a master craftsman down to each detail of ceremony and tradition. A thrilling read with unexpected twists throughout the book. This masterpiece rivals even Lord of the Rings in imagination and creation.
This book will thrill the current generation and many more to come.
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on 3 February 2016
Loved this when I was young teenager, brought them all cheap through the marketplace to reread and pass on to younger family members. My one problem is that despite saying that they were good/very good the five books in the series that I ordered where not up to that standard. However, considering I got them all (bar the last one) for £12 I can't really complain.
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on 20 May 2009
You remember how Lyra's Oxford in Northern Lights was like our Oxford, but a little different? And how Will slipped from the modern world and met her in her world? Well, City of Masks will remind you of that, and is in its own way just as effective and enjoyable as Philip Pullman's books. Lucien steps from his difficult everyday life in north London into Bellezza in the 16th century, a city that is very like Venice, but subtly different. He meets a beautiful girl, and finds himself caught up in a dangerous web of political intrigue. It's a gripping and romantic adventure story, ideal reading for young teenage girls.
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on 3 July 2006
This book entrances you with the mysterious first page. It was hard to put it down. I loved the way that the story was told, making it seem as if you were looking at the city. The characters are well thought about and so lifelike. Mary Hoffman leaves you waiting till the very end to see if the characters survive. There wasn't a dull moment at all. It was gripping, extraordinary and totally thrilling, if you love adventure and a tiny bit of tampered with history you have to read this book!!!!!!
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on 9 September 2003
I was completely enthralled by this book. If like me you love historical fantasty then this is the ideal book for you. The setting of 16th century Italy (Talia) is beautifully described and there is a feeling of suspence right from the word go. This book is a joy, a wonderful book that both me and my younger cousin(6) enjoyed. It is a pleasure to read, and all I can say is bring on the next one
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on 19 January 2005
I Think 'STRAVAGANZA City Of Masks' by Mary Hoffman is a brilliant adventure of a book. It was so spell binding it convinced me to by it's sequel, City Of Stars. I am only on the 6th chapter of City Of Stars but it is already impossible to put down. By searching the web I have found out there is another book in the STRAVAGANZA series which I am going to keep an eye out for.
City Of Masks is a wonderfull book that will keep you hanging on for more. I mean, what would you feel like being ill in bed one
minute, then the next an adventurus world of masksthat you have never seen or been to before? That is the situatition Lucien Mulholland found himself in.
How could he have got there?
Where is he?
Why is he there?
And most importantly : How will he get back home?
Join Lucien in his adventures to understand this strange, new and magical place.
GO on, read it!!!
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on 11 March 2009
Excellent book - Mary Hoffman is a great author. I am 10 years old and I think I was the perfect age for this book.
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