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The Merchant of Dreams by Anne Lyle
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The Merchant of Dreams (2012)

by Anne Lyle

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This is the second book in the Night's Masque series. After reading through the first book quickly and loving it, I couldn't have been more excited to pick up this book. This book was enjoyable, though not nearly as enjoyable as the first one, and it took me significantly longer to read it.

This book is set in Venice, and Lyle's descriptions of the city and the atmosphere were wonderful. She truly has a talent for setting the scene. In TMoD, Mal and Ned go to Venice with Sir Walter Raleigh to spy on the skraylings for Walsingham. The skraylings are creating an alliance with Venice, and England wants to know all of the particulars. Following behind Mal and Ned are Coby, Parrish, and Sandy/Erishen who are trying to get to Venice in time to warn Mal of a skrayling who is hunting him down.

This story explains a lot more of the skrayling magic and how they walk through dreams and guise as humans. It further expands on the hell-houndesque dream creatures whose name is escaping me, and there is a wonderfully tense, exciting scene where the main characters battle with these creatures.

As for my complaints on the book, one of the main ones is how confusing the skrayling mythology is at times, but it is not *so* confusing that it is uncomprehensible, it just takes a few re-reads and flipping back to earlier parts of the book to fully understand what it going on. At least, that was the case for me. Another complaint was the romance novel tone that the book took on in a few sections, "quivering members" and all. Thankfully, these were short.

My last complaint was the treatment of my favorite character Ned by the author. Obviously Ned is there for comedic relief, however Lyle has Ned lusting for Mal *constantly* even though he is in a relationship with Parrish. I feel that she thought Ned's longings were funny? But nearly every single time Ned had a scene, he had to long for Mal and want to jump his bones, and this grew tiresome, and I was saddened that Ned was reduced to a one-joke (?) character.

Overall though, my complaints did not detract enough from the book to make me dislike it. I truly did enjoy it, and Lyle is not only great at providing a convincing backdrop, she is also wonderful at creating suspense and humor. I am looking forward to the last book in this trilogy. The setup that Lyle has created has me itching to know what on earth can happen next. I am really hoping we get to go to the New World and see the skraylings in their home environment. ( )
  Borrows-N-Wants | Feb 6, 2016 |
The Merchant of Dreams starts out with a scene that could have come from one of the best thriller movies - all haunting atmosphere and trepidation - and digs its hooks in deep. Set a year or two after the events of The Alchemist of Souls, this second book in the Night’s Masque series is a worthy successor to it. At over 500 pages, I still managed to finish the book roughly three days after I started it.

Court intrigue and battles abound as Mal Catlyn and his page - the cross-dressing (by necessity) Coby come upon a chance rumor that the Skraylings from the new world are interested in an alliance with the Venetian Republic. Sent there by the dying Sir Francis Walsingham, Mal takes ship with Ned Faulkner on The Falcon, captained by no less a seafarer than Sir Walter Raleigh himself.

Mal’s twin Sandy becomes a real character in this book, with Erishen taking the lead in injecting a personality into the man he possesses. Nearly as forceful as Mal, Sandy leads Coby astray from her orders to watch out for him and through a series of misadventures they - with the actor Gabriel Parrish - make their own way to Venice to meet up with Mal and Ned.

Venice, with its canals and twisted streets, is as convoluted as the English Court, and more surprises abound, not the least coming from the Skraylings themselves. Mal learns how to do some of the things that his brother, having more of the soul of Erishen than he, can do from a hidden Guiser. This training leads both to disaster and deliverance for Mal and his friends.

Anne Lyle neatly ties up a few open threads from the first book, and the ending was perfect. I suspect many fans of the Night’s Masque series will cheer at the resolution, and I particularly enjoyed the reminding touch of Coby’s dab hand with mechanicals. It also sets up the concluding volume of the series, which I, for one, am looking forward to. ( )
1 vote anneb10 | Dec 24, 2012 |
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Mal leant over the ship's rail, scanning the shore for any sign of a wreck.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0857662783, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:20:57 -0400)

In this sequel to The Alchemist of Souls, a group of renegades cause a rift among the Skraylings.

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