Setting alone isn’t enough … MERCHANT OF DREAMS by Anne Lyle

It’s probably not surprising that MERCHANT OF DREAMS has many of the same strengths and weaknesses as THE ALCHEMIST OF SOULS. Once again, the setting is the Night’s Masque series’ greatest strength — this time taking us to Venice, a beautiful yet treacherous city with interesting customs and dangerous players. Anne Lyle has created a unique setting with plenty of opportunity for intrigue and excitement.

Unfortunately, however, I’ve always been more interested in characters and their development, and that’s where I haven’t been able to really dive into this series. Mal Catlyn was something of a cipher in the opening book, and while there’s a bit more development here, he comes across as fairly bland, with his primary traits being his loyalty to country and his willingness to have sex with just about anything — men, women, non-humans, whatever.

Ned Faulkner is fairly well developed in this book, but is crafted to be a fairly shallow character who only thinks about having sex with Mal or Gabriel. Gabriel himself is actually shown to be fairly useful, but I’m fairly neutral on all the core characters except for Coby. Combine that with a plot about defending England’s trade interests, and I’m disappointed to admit that I probably won’t read the third and final book in this series.

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