BOOK REVIEW: The Merchant of Dreams (Nights Masque 2)

Merchant_of_DreamsAnne Lyle’s alternative Tudor fantasy continues in The Merchant of Dreams. This time Mal and his friends must journey to Venice, but what dangers await them there?




AUTHOR: Anne Lyle
PUBLISHER: Angry Robot
eBOOK: 424 Pages (Approx.)


Exiled from the court of Queen Elizabeth for accusing a powerful nobleman of treason, swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has been living in France with his young valet Coby Hendricks for the past year.

But Mal harbours a darker secret: he and his twin brother share a soul that once belonged to a skrayling, one of the mystical creatures from the New World.

When Mal’s dream about a skrayling shipwreck in the Mediterranean proves reality, it sets him on a path to the beautiful, treacherous city of Venice – and a conflict of loyalties that will place him and his friends in greater danger than ever.


Set one year after the events in The Alchemist of Souls, and in an alternative Tudor England when Queen Elizabeth I has married Robert Dudley, the Skyraylings are non-human creatures who have come from the New World to trade, but after much hostility against them, it looks like they are looking to make new alliances with Venice instead. Mal is ordered by Walsingham to travel to Venice and stop it no matter what.

All the characters from the first novel feature here, including Mal’s ex lover Ned.  They all play a part in a plot that is full of twists and turns, where you are never quite sure who is trustworthy or who is out for their own interests.

I’ll be honest, I have not read the previous book so I found this novel a little hard to get into to start with, as I wasn’t overly sure what was initially going on. However, Lyle explains things really well with comments made to previous incidents which filled in the gaps in my knowledge, and within a few chapters I found myself fully emerged in the story.

The plot, whilst different, did seem to drag for me in parts and I felt that the action really didn’t start for me until Mal and Ned got to Venice. The characters are well-formed if a little predictable at times. However, I really liked the alternative version of Tudor London, and it along with Venice are delineated very well, Venice especially with all the buildings beautifully described – you could almost be in a gondola going down one of the canals.

The good points totally win on this book for me, as I still enjoyed it and will be interested to see where Lyle takes us with the next book The Price of Lies, due out in November 2013.

An interesting Tudor fantasy; however, you may still want to read The Alchemist of Souls first to get the full benefit of this book.


Rating: 3.5/5
Reporter: darkphoenix1701

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