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The Prince of Lies(Night's Masque, #3)
Swordsman-turned-spy Mal Catlyn has vowed to expel the
guisers — power-hungry skraylings reborn as humans—from England. However
his first problem is to find out who they are. The only guiser whose
identity he knows for certain is Prince Henry, Queen Elizabeth’s
youngest grandson, and although the skrayling soul Jathekkil who
inhabits the young prince’s body is Mal’s oldest enemy, still he balks
at treason and child murder. Enlisting the aid of his old friend and
fellow spy Ned Faulkner, Mal eventually identifies his first adult
guiser: none other than Thomas Walsingham, distant cousin of the former
spymaster and himself a part-time spy. Mal and his allies kidnap
Walsingham from his home, making it look like the work of anti-skrayling
fanatics, and take him in secret to the Tower of London.
Unfortunately the information they get out of Walsingham is useless, and worse still the guisers discover Mal’s plot and take their revenge. Ned and his lover Gabriel are arrested on trumped-up charges of sedition, and Mal’s family home in Derbyshire is burnt to the ground — nearly killing his wife Coby, their adopted son Kit and Mal’s brother Sandy.
Undaunted, Mal rescues his friends from prison and puts them on a boat to France. Thinking that his family will be safer close to court where he can keep an eye on them, he secures his wife a position as lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Wales. However the dull routine of court is soon interrupted by the arrival of an Italian castrato, Bartolomeo, whom Mal recognises as his former lover Olivia, a Venetian guiser. Exiled from her beloved republic, Olivia seems to be throwing her lot in with the English guisers — but will a being of her experience and power be content to serve a stripling like Jathekkil?
Rivalry amongst the guisers comes to a head when Queen Elizabeth dies and her son Robert is shot by an assassin during his coronation procession. With both of Robert’s heirs still children, it is left to his brother Prince Arthur to attempt to take the reins of power, even though this draws comparisons with the hated Richard III. Meanwhile Mal and his allies discover that the guisers’ plans may be more ambitious than they ever suspected: the creation of a whole army of guisers with which to take control of the country. And one of their newest recruits is Mal’s own son.