The Alchemist of Souls (Night's Masque Series #1)

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Overview

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns ...

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The Alchemist of Souls: Night's Masque, Volume 1

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Overview

When Tudor explorers returned from the New World, they brought back a name out of half-forgotten Viking legend: skraylings. Red-sailed ships followed in the explorers’ wake, bringing Native American goods--and a skrayling ambassador--to London. But what do these seemingly magical beings really want in Elizabeth I’s capital?

Mal Catlyn, a down-at-heel swordsman, is seconded to the ambassador's bodyguard, but assassination attempts are the least of his problems. What he learns about the skraylings and their unholy powers could cost England her new ally--and Mal his soul.

e-book ISBN: 978-0-85766-215-6

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lyle’s impressive debut is set in an alternate Elizabethan England, where the sons of the widowed queen await the ambassador of the skraylings, a New World race whose mercantile alliance is vital to English interests. Unemployed swordsman Maliverny Catlyn, in need of cash to maintain his brother in a lunatic asylum, takes a gig as the ambassador’s bodyguard. Soon he and his tutor in the skrayling language, Coby Hendricks, an apprentice in an acting company and secretly a woman in disguise, are caught up in political intrigue. A lively cast of actors and their down-at-the-heel associates contrasts neatly with mysterious powers and goals of the inhuman skraylings as a theatrical competition in the ambassador’s honor offers opportunities for both actors and assassins. With an effective mix of espionage, backstage drama, and mystery, Lyle provides compelling drama in an intriguing setting. Agent: John Berlyne, the Zeno Agency. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
Nominee for the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer

"Impressive... With an effective mix of espionage, backstage drama, and mystery, Lyle provides compelling drama in an intriguing setting." - Publishers Weekly

"In her debut, The Alchemist of Souls, Anne Lyle creates an alternate Elizabethan England done right. A world where history meets fantasy in the streets, and where neither emerges unscathed. With a twisting plot, endearing characters, fast-paced action, and truly unique and alien "fey", Lyle steps up and gives notice to the genre. No wilting faerie queens and tortured knights here: this is how historical fantasy gets dirty. A great first installment in a promising new series." - Douglas Hulick, acclaimed author of Among Thieves

"Anne Lyle's Alchemist of Souls teems with intrigue and magic worthy of the Bard himself, all set against the backdrop of Elizabethan London. The attention to historical detail brings the time and place alive and peoples it with characters I could instantly empathize with. An outstanding debut!" - Lynn Flewelling

“In her terrific debut novel, Anne Lyle conjures up a magical Elizabethan England of seedy glamour, long shadows, pulsating romance and heart-stopping adventure. The Alchemist of Souls is the calling card of a great new talent in the fantasy field.” - Mark Chadbourn

“Anne Lyle’s fluid writing brilliantly evokes the heady and gritty atmosphere of her alternate Shakespearean London – from the day-to-day life of theatre troupes to the pomp of official ceremonies.” - Aliette de Bodard

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780857662149
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing, Limited
  • Publication date: 3/27/2012
  • Series: Night's Masque Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Pages: 528
  • Sales rank: 259,029
  • Product dimensions: 4.30 (w) x 6.70 (h) x 1.42 (d)

Meet the Author

Anne Lyle is a website developer and debut author from Nottinghamshire, England. She has an active website, attends UK conventions and is a dedicated Twitter user. The author lives in Cambridge, UK.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 16, 2012

    Overall Decent. Homophobs beware

    Please don't assume I'm bashing the book becasue of the homosexual refrences. It's not my style, if it's your's that's great. I'm only brinning it to everyone's attention.

    In The Alchemist of Souls the main character Mal is contacted by the government of England to be the protector of a relatively unknown race of people, the Skraylings. Mal doesn't realize it at first, but he has been thrust into a dangerous game of politics between the Queen's two secretarys and the Skraylings.

    The book starts off with an interesting concept of a down on his luck freelancing noble's son who has revoked his claim to nobility, Mal. The book begins to studder as the author, Anne Lyle, devots chapters sigularly to character development. While it's good to develop character parts of these chapters seem to simply be written in with no overall development of the story. When the book does finally pick up it develops well with a sense of betrayel and danger, however it ends to soon after that, while at the same time making the book seem like it went on entirely too long. Overall the book was a good solid first entry into a series that should prove extremely entertaining as it continues to develop. However this first book was simply decent.


    Now the part everyone wanted to know; the Homosexual stuff. Almost every main character in the book is a homosexual. The two main characters Mal, and Ned are homosexual lovers. Ned however likes to hit on other male characters and often attempts to touch their c*cks. He also flirts and kisses other characters, while making comments about Mal's size. Many of the other characters make comments about gaining favors by letting their male bosses touch their c*cks. The only character who isn't a homosexual is a cross dressing girl pretending to be a boy. There you have it. Again not bashing the book for the homosexuality but I am putting it out there for everyone to know about. I wasn't expecting it and if I had known before hand I probably wouldn't have bought the book.

    8 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 4, 2012

    To be honest I kind of stumbled over this book, mainly picked it

    To be honest I kind of stumbled over this book, mainly picked it up in the first place because i liked the cover… yes sometimes i am just a simple cover slut!
    I did like the summary as well. The book however was for a long time in my shelf unread. When I finally picked it up, I was astounded! Lyle created an alternate universe set in Elizabethan London added some shakespearean characters and a dash of fantasy. And all of it was done very well! I am so glad now that I liked the cover!! Sometimes being a cover slut pays off obviously ;)
    While the summary might give one the impression that this is an action packed fantasy. Well, it's not. It does however move in a pleasant past, lots of its action involve intrigue and deception, there are mysteries (that are partly solved) and even a bit of romance. It's a subtle book, where characters are defined more by their actions than by their expressing their feelings and the fantasy is so well incorporated in a pseudo historical England that one can believe in it.

    The plot in itself is cleverly woven and has a couple of twists. It's not unpredictable but it's thoroughly enjoyable. A somewhat classic daggers and cloak tale. It is not an especially fast-paced story, but it is an entrancing one; I just couldn't stop turning page.
    However, the romance, while it was sweet, it also was a bit clumsy and lacked a bit of chemistry. My biggest critic though is that I was left with a lot of questions- many to do with Mal's past- despite the fact that the book was ended quite neatly, no cliffhanger or such at the end.


    It took me a while to be able to connect to characters, which in my opinion is due to the third person narrator. The POV does also swap between different characters, so getting to know them take a little longer. But saying that, even though it is written in the third person, the three narrators have each their distinct voices- which in my opinion shows how good Lyle is in her craft!
    But by the end of the book I was thoroughly invested in the characters. In fact I really like them.
    Lyle does approach the characters rather with a subtle hand. So as reasons for their actions unfold, we get to know them and by the end of the book many questions raised about them fall into place. They are well rounded characters and felt rather realistic. Lyle gave them each the world view a person of their status and time probably would have had. Each of them has their own views on politics and religion but none of them are judged.. simply told. I think in fact these are the reason they felt so very real.
    Admittedly they are very shakespearean type characters. But in my opinion that was a plus point.
    I really enjoyed Mal's practical stoicism, Coby's practical romanticism, and even Ned's doubtful integrity made him more complex and real.
    Mal the handsome rough with a golden heart who is the catalyst to get the others entangled in a web of espionage and intrigue. He is haunted by things that happened in his past and is probably his own worst critic. There are aspects of his past that are still not reveal by the end of this book and I hope that Lyle will reveal them in the next….
    Coby the orphan girl that make her living as a tire man, posing as a boy, is brave and loyal. An immigrant to England she is acutely aware of its politics. She is also aware that her guise, while giving her freedom and a way to survive, also might be a possible barrier for any possible future. Her insecurities and worries were so one of the things I really like about Lyles writing. She manages to convey Coby's feelings in manner that make Coby extremely real. I could totally relate to Coby, I think most women will. Since many of her issues are totally universal for many girls in their late teens, Lyle just packaged it into parallel tudor times
    Ned, was my least favorite character for most of the book. I never trusted him, felt he was just a spoilt wimp half to the time… and then suddenly he came through and redeemed himself. And its like I suddenly got what happened before and why he did it all. And forgave him.. yeah you read right. I forgave him. Because that's how invested I got into them!

    The world building. WELL! Let me tell you, its probably the best part of the book! It's brilliant. Lyle did not only create an entire parallel Elizabethian England.. she created an entire new species, the skrylings (a term taken from the norse sagas), complete with their own cultures, histories and believes. And its done absolutely flawlessly! Absolutely brilliant.
    The historical part of the novel is just as amazing, it is so well crafted that it makes everything else seem completely real. Lyle brought the Tudor times back to life in every minute detail. She is obviously well acquainted with that time of history. Did I mention its brilliant?

    The prose is definitely another favorite part of this book for me. Its simply beautiful. Lyle is fabulous at it. I enjoyed each sentence and am hoping that Lyle will produce many many more books

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 20, 2012

    A brilliant debut novel

    In a breathtaking Elizabethan England that never was, magic, conspiracy, swordsmen, playwrights and actors collide as an ambassador for the vaguely elvish skraylings is asked to select a winner from several plays written in honor of his arrival.

    Maliverny Catlyn, swordsman with an unnerving past connection to the skraylings, is chosen to be the ambassador's guard---and finds his old friendships with London actors a sudden source of danger, intrigue, and near-death experiences as he stands between serving the Queen, protecting the ambassador, and trying to uncover the truth about various factions out to kill his charge. Or him. Or his twin brother.

    The characters are all richly drawn, the history---including Lyle's use of real history and her revisions for this alternate universe---is wonderfully presented, the worldbuilding is incredible, London is simply amazing and feels touchably real, and the story is FUN. Fun to read, fun to puzzle out, fun to fall in love with.

    This is the first book of a series, but Lyle's done a wonderful job of both making it stand on its own, and of adding a teaser at the end that has me waiting eagerly for the next book.

    And here I need to add a quick disclaimer: Anne Lyle is a student of several of my writing course, but I did not see or assist with any of her work while the book was in progress, nor did I receive a review request or free book from either her or her publisher. I bought my copy, read the book, and was thrilled by how wonderful it was.

    I read a lot, across genres, and in many areas of fiction and nonfiction This is the best fantasy novel I've read in the last few years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 22, 2013

    I won & read this book over the summer, and loved it a lot.

    I won & read this book over the summer, and loved it a lot. I noticed it on a shelf in a local bookstore today, and realised I never reviewed it. Anne Lyle's 'The Alchemist of Souls' is a rich alternate history set in Tudor London. These strange creatures, skraylings, live in an encampment in London somewhat separated from the rest of the population. Many people are afraid of them, and sometimes they are hunted. Through an unfortunate series of circumstances, Mal becomes bodyguard to the skrayling ambassador. Also involved is Coby, a girl disguising herself as a boy so she can work with a theatre troupe, and becomes tangled with Mal when he asks her to teach him about the skrayling customs she's familiar with.
    This is a proper fantasy novel with the stories of a variety of characters intersecting and tangling with each other. I really enjoyed reading about the various threads coming together. I also like how Ms Lyle incorporated the Catholic vs Protestant conflict into the story alongside the politics with the skraylings. There were so many interesting bits that it's hard to describe the story much more without giving away bits that are much more fun to find out by yourself. It got me back into reading epic fantasy, which I'd had a bit of a break from, and I loved the intricacies of the plot and the world building. There were one or two scenes that I had to scan over because they were a little icky, a little too graphic for me, but I don't think they were unnecessary - they were important to get across the strong emotions of the characters who witnessed/experienced those things.
    An intricate story of political intrigue in an alternate Tudor London, Anne Lyle's "The Alchemist Of Souls" is an engaging fantasy novel. I give it 8 stars. [Review also posted by me at my review blog, The Book Bundle.]

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2013

    Worth thevre Worth the read!

    It sort of staggers into itself, occasionally. Overall, though, it's a good book for settling down and losing yourself for an hour or so at a time.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 24, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted September 11, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing 1 – 8 of 9 Customer Reviews

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