Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.
The Alchemist of Souls: Night's Masque, Volume 1 Mass Market Paperback – March 27, 2012
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
"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
About the Author
More About the Author
It appears, however, that although you can take the girl out of Sherwood Forest, you can't take Sherwood Forest out of the girl. She now spends practically every waking hour writing - or at least planning - fantasy fiction about dashing swordsmen and scheming spies, set in imaginary pasts or parallel worlds.
Her particular obsession is Elizabethan England, so it helps that she now lives in a city full of medieval and Tudor buildings where the cattle browse on the common land much as they did in Shakespeare's London. She prides herself on being able to ride a horse, sew a sampler and cut a quill pen but hasn't the least idea how to drive one of those new-fangled automobile thingies.
Paradoxically she is a big fan of 21st century technology, being a Mac geek and full-time web developer. Well, it's the nearest thing you can get to magic in our own universe...
Top Customer Reviews
Lyle's protagonist is Mal Catlyn, a down on his luck swordsman with a checkered past and an unfortunate family connection to Catholicism. The skraylings, a new race from the New World, have been allied with England for a generation, but an ambassador had yet to treat with the Queen. With word of the first skrayling delegation, Mal is hand picked, rather unexpectedly, to serve as bodyguard during the controversial visit. Assassination attempts are the least of his concern as layers of espionage and political jockeying begin to pull him in unexpected directions.
Along with the intrigue, Lyle sets the stage with a tournament of stage performances in honor of the ambassador's visit. Put on by the three most esteemed theater troops in London, the tournament becomes a set piece for the larger story. The theater sections are told mostly through the eyes of Coby, a young woman hiding behind men's clothing, and connects to Mal's thread through his friend Ned, a scribe with a penchant for theater men. Between the three of them they'll be asked to prevent a conspiracy at the core of the monarchy.Read more ›
1. The ending was a let down. It left me a bit confused.
2. The reader only gets to superficially know the characters. I wanted to like the main character, but I ended up not really caring about him or the rest of them. And looking back at how Mal is described or portrayed, doesn't really jive with some of his actions and age. Like why did a loyal and militarily-obedient Mal run away from the law at the beginning, and ditch his friend?
3. The novel has a lot of words but could use more substance. I ended up skimming through a lot of the book. I feel like a lot of avenues didn't really get explored, like Mal's relationships with the ambassador or love interest. It didn't live up to the potential.
4. The plot wasn't all that original for me. The concept reminded me a lot of CJ Cherryh's Foreigner books. CJ Cherryh has A LOT more words to sift through, but also more depth and substance.
Anne Lyle shows very good to great ability, but would benefit from a stronger, unbiased editor. Despite being a milieu novel, there is a surprising lack of character development and pace. Perhaps a stronger hand at the editing wheel would elevate Anne's significant gift for writing to a higher tier.
The book does a great job of setting the environment and making it really feel like sixteenth century London. I loved how the book feels very original in its concepts. It is hard to do historical fantasy like this, but to take it and make it your own is an accomplishment. The book does start off very slow, but eventually picks up the pace for an climatic ending. The lack of the excitement at the beginning really hurts the book. The story is very character driven, and as the story progressed, I found myself more emotionally tied to these characters. With a deep understanding of history and a perfect blend of magic, this series is off to a great start.
*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I would give this book a solid 2.5 stars if I could. For me it was pretty much exactly "middle of the road" fair, given all the parts that made it suck and all the parts that made... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Adrienne A. Porter
Good characters some twists with the plot. Liked the period it is written for.Published 6 months ago by Warreen
My favorite part of this book was the fact that it was set in an alternate version of Elizabethan England. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Emily Randolph-Epstein
This novel has everything: heroes, villains, spies, the glory and tawdryness of Elizabethan theater, sword fights and an alien people come to London to further diplomatic... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Jessamy Zagel Trisler
The story itself is quite intriguing. I love the mystery, danger and mysticism with the pages. I was not as big on some of the homosexual leanings of the characters, or rather the... Read morePublished 14 months ago by KCarlson
Really loved how well she slipped in the new race. Main characters are very likable. I'd like to read the next book in the series.Published 19 months ago by JoAnn Roa