Elizabethan spy Mal Catlyn has everything he ever wanted—his twin brother Sandy restored to health, his family estate reclaimed and a son to inherit it—but his work isn’t over yet. The guisers’ leader, Jathekkil, has reincarnated as the young Prince Henry Tudor, giving Mal a chance to eliminate his enemies whilst they are at their weakest.
With Sandy’s help Mal learns to harness his own magic in the fight against the renegade skraylings, but it may be too late to save England. Schemes set in motion decades ago are at last coming to fruition, and the barrier between the dreamlands and the waking world is wearing thin…
The Prince of Lies is the concluding book of Anne Lyle’s Night’s Masque trilogy. Merchant of Dreams left us with an almost picturesque ending, Mal and Coby married, headed off to start a new life with Kit, their adopted infant son who is also host to Kiiren. As you can imagine, it wouldn’t be much of a book if things stayed that happy and settled, so they don’t. Not even close.
Once again, I find Anne Lyle’s prose to be an enjoyable read. Her stories are not the action packed, read as fast as you can style, but rather, sit back take in the setting and time period and enjoy. It’s a book where the story flows rather races. In this book, the guisers have set their sights on the throne and are getting disturbingly close. Enter Mal, who must unravel their plan and find a way to put a stop to it.
The book covers a large time frame, rightfully skipping over years where nothing relevant happens. We find Coby has a much more back seat and domestic role in this. I always really enjoy Coby’s character, so it was strange seeing her adjust to the life of a lady. She definitely had a chance to show some of the Coby we are used to and served a critical role, but I couldn’t help but wish for more of what we had from her in previous books. Perhaps that is unfair since this is a different story and to the author’s credit, I am glad to see she didn’t force Coby into a more visible role when the story didn’t call for it. So I guess what I should say is that while I missed Coby, I prefer to see her in small doses than to have her shoe horned into more of the story than would make sense.
We do get the PoV of Kit at times in this book, but I have to admit he is a character that I feel I don’t know as well at end of the book as I would have thought I would. My main attachment to him comes from knowing Coby and Mal’s attachment to him. I care by proxy more than anything else. I can’t point to anything that is missing. I like Kit, I just didn’t feel quite as connected to him as I would have expected.
But I don’t want to sound like I am complaining. I enjoyed the story which featured favorite characters from the first two books (Mal, Coby, Ned, Gabriel and Sandy) as well as murder, mystery and, of course, political intrigue. You have to love a book that is enjoyable to read and has all those elements, The ending of the book was handled very well. It wrapped up the trilogy cleanly, but definitely left open doors to allow Lyle to revisit the world again if she chooses. Whether her next book is set in this world or something else entirely, Anne Lyle remains on my list of authors I want to read.
Many thanks to Angry Robot and NetGalley for the ARC in return for my honest review.