Published by Pyr
April 2006, 350 pp
In The Destiny Mask, the second book of Martin Sketchley’s Structure series, the government of Structure is still trying to establish a political relationship with the Seriatt planet/race, even after the royal child-bearer, Vourniass Lycern died giving birth to Alexander DelGado’s twin at the end of The Affinity Trap. Almost two decades have passed since the climatic ending of The Affinity Trap, and Alexander Delgado’s twin sons have grown into young adults. Cascari was raised by Delgado and his revolutionary group fully aware of his heritage. Michael, abducted as a newborn child, grew up under the shadow of Structure leader William Myson, not knowing his true heritage. Since Michael is the son of both the leader of the Human government in the galaxy and the son of the Seriattic Royal Household, he has been groomed to be the next head of the Seriatt Royal Household.
While the previous book was balanced with action and character development, Sketchley focuses more on fast paced action in The Destiny Mask. The novel has the feel of a special effects-laden summer blockbuster, with car chases, an extended race/vehicle chase, and a many scenes involving the protagonists being chased, captured and escaping. These breakneck scenes are broken by occasional scenes where Delgado and Ashala, Girl from The Affinity Trap, banter about as they try to both figure out their plight, and their feelings.
Few middle books in trilogies are as full of action as Sketchley’s, he doesn’t give the reader much room to breathe. While he was able to throw the characters into the plot and action, he still has a chance to develop new characters and examine, albeit briefly, the landscape and politics of his future world. Though she is more developed and fleshed out in this volume, Ashala serves as little more than a foil for Delgado; a female sounding board with attitude. The twin sons and their disparate development provide food for thought in the nature vs. nurture argument, seemingly in favor of the nurture side. In between the chases and escapes, there is some time to consider the nature of government, revolution, and sticking with one’s beliefs, despite the odds.
On the whole, The Destiny Mask effectively continues the storyline Sketchley began so strongly in The Affinity Trap. Despite its more action-oriented pacing, I still felt this book was something of a holding place, less even read, not as engaging of a read compared to its predecessor. Essentially, The Destiny Mask was not quite as solid as The Affinity Trap. However, I think Sketchley has set a solid foundation for what looks to be a rousing conclusion, in The Liberty Gun.