The third book in the Night’s Masque trilogy.
Publication year: 2013
Page count: 538
Publisher: Angry Robot
The book starts two years after the end of the previous book, The Merchant of Dreams, and some things have changed for our intrepid heroes. After the events in Venice, Mal was knighted, his employer Walsingham died, and Mal is now working for Blaise Grey, the current duke of Suffolk who took over the spying business. Unfortunately, Grey and Mal loath each other, so their relationship is quite strained and Mal doesn’t trust Grey. Still, they have to work together to ferret out the plot against the throne. The villains are guisers, skraylings who have been reborn into human bodies. They can use dream magic to further their aims.
On personal side, things are going well: Sandy is much better, Mal and Coby are married and they adopted a Venetian boy as their heir. Ned and Gabriel live together and Ned has a printing press going while Gabriel is working with Shakespeare for large productions.
But things start to soon go downhill: Mal has decided to use his enemies, the violent and ruthless Huntsmen, and make them work for him. However, they exceed their orders. Soon, Ned and Gabriel are arrested and Grey orders Mal to kill them because they know too much. Instead, Mal breaks them out of prison and makes Grey more sour than ever. This makes his work harder.
This isn’t as episodic as the previous book but it has been divided into two parts and two years go by between them. The second part also has a significant new POV character. The book has several POV characters, but Mal is the one we spend the most time with so he’s more clearly the main character this time. Coby’s role is diminished a lot.
The first part is set mostly in the Crown Prince Robert and his wife Julianne’s court. Also their young sons and Robert’s brother Prince Arthur are significant characters. The guisers are doing their best to manipulate every one and our heroes don’t know who to trust.
The book has a lot of twists I didn’t see coming which was a good thing. The character have (mostly) good relationships with each other which sustains them against the distrust. Indeed, I though they’re better friends than in the second book. I also loved the fact that Mal and Coby love their adopted kid unconditionally. On the other hand, the story also has a lot of unhappiness for them and the second part had lots of stuff I didn’t really care for.
The Prince of Lies is a satisfying conclusion to the series although the ending is open for further adventures and there are some long-term problems which aren’t solved.