Review: The Prince of Lies – Anne Lyle

  • Title: The Prince of Lies
  • Author: Anne Lyle
  • Genre: Historical Fantasy
  • Why: Had to finish the series, and it was a Christmas present.
  • Rating: 4 Stars

Description: 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…

Review: This is the conclusion of this historical fantasy trilogy, and I must say that it didn’t end up where I was expecting it to go (although if you’d asked me where I was expecting it to go, I probably wouldn’t have been able to tell you).

I’m finding it quite hard to think of what to say about this book. Not because it was particularly good or bad – that tends to make a review rather easy – nor even because it was mediocre, because it’s actually pretty good. This whole series has been a solid four stars for me, but I just can’t find a lot to say about it.

Plot-wise this book concentrates on the danger posed by the so-called guisers: humans with skrayling souls whose political machinations threaten the stability of the British empire. The morality of dealing with these guisers is muddled, since our hero Mal Catlyn is himself a guiser of sorts – he and his brother Sandy share the soul of the skrayling Erishen. Their main enemy is Jathekkil, the skrayling who inhabits young prince Henry, second son of prince Robert, who is the heir to the throne. Secondary but no less dangerous is Ilianwe, an ancient skrayling they met in Venice and who has now transferred her operations to the English court.

The writing is solid, the characters well-fleshed out. The book is engaging, never leaving you bored. The ending I found rather bittersweet and melancholy. Most ‘classic’ fantasy leaves you on a high – nasty things might have happened, but all’s well that ends well and the bad guy has been defeated. This book didn’t have much of that, and certainly left me wondering how the main characters will fare in future, because I can’t imagine their future being easy. It was also a bit open-ended, in that the author left herself room enough to come back to this a few decades into the future and take up where she left off.

This has been an unusual series from a promising new author, and I look forward to seeing what Anne Lyle will come up with in future.

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