Mantle of Malice is the third book in the Tudor Enigma series, and, having read them all, I’d say it’s the best so far. In this alternative fantasy history, the main protagonist, Luke Ballard, has matured and grown in wisdom and experience. That’s not to say he no longer makes mistakes or has somehow overcome his personal flaws, but he has a greater personal history from which to make his judgments.
The writing is clean and tight and so well-seated in the period that the reader is never jerked out of the Tudor era. April Taylor obviously does her research thoroughly and has found the proper terms for artefacts, food, dress and all the other items that define a period. She immerses the reader in the history easily and subtly so that one is transported back in time from page one and remains there until the end of the book.
Her characters are all very real, their motivations, cares and loves all absolutely credible as they take the reader on this exiting journey of magic, romance and the ever-present battle of good against evil. For those seeking romance, there is love, betrayal, jealousy and joy in good measure here. For those in search of adventure, there is action, danger and deception aplenty.
This is a well-written story, full of incident, populated by people from all the social strata from king to beggar. It moves at a good pace, but allows the reader breathing space when necessary. The denouement builds cleverly and appropriately into a climax that is both inevitable and satisfying.
Mantle of malice is an engaging and enjoyable tale; a fascinating glimpse into a world that might have been, and a fantasy that is both credible and enjoyable. I thoroughly recommend this read.