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A Conspiracy of Alchemists

A Conspiracy of Alchemists

Book rating: 04 Hardback Chronicles of Light and Shadow

By (author) Liesel Schwarz

List price $25.00

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  • Publisher: Del Rey Books
  • Format: Hardback | 338 pages
  • Dimensions: 157mm x 241mm x 36mm | 499g
  • Publication date: 5 March 2013
  • ISBN 10: 0345545079
  • ISBN 13: 9780345545077
  • Sales rank: 830,494

Product description

"LEAVE IT TO CHANCE." Eleanor "Elle" Chance, that is--the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold. In a Golden Age where spark reactors power the airways, and creatures of Light and Shadow walk openly among us, a deadly game of Alchemists and Warlocks has begun. When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse. Praise for "A Conspiracy of Alchemists" " " "Oh my Steampunk God! . . . If you like steampunk you definitely have to give this jewel a try. It would be a sin not to, really."--Butterfly-o-Meter Books "A wonderful sense of fun on every page . . . Visit [your] nearest bibliographic emporium and seek this rather magnificent tome out."--The Eloquent Page "I truly enjoyed this novel and strongly suggest it to Steampunk fans. I'm convinced "A Conspiracy of Alch"emists will rock your world!"--Tynga's Reviews "Pure fun to read."--Karissa's Reading Review

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Author information

Liesel Schwarz, a lifelong fan of nineteenth-century Gothic literature, is a hopeless romantic who loves Victorians, steampunk, fairies, fantasy monsters, the fin de siecle, and knowing the correct way to drink absinthe. She also likes medieval things, pirates, zombies, space operas, and all subjects in between.

Customer reviews

By Maja (The Nocturnal Library) 28 Feb 2013 4

A Conspiracy of Alchemists is a surprisingly fun debut, a wonderful blend of steampunk, urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It's perfect for fans of Meljean Brook's Iron Seas series. The worldbuilding may be slightly inferior in comparison, but that's only because Meljean Brook is the untouchable queen of the genre. Leisel Schwartz did not disappoint with her fabulously imaginative world full of alchemists, Nightwalkers, absint fairies and warlocks. The steampunk elements were great (gyrocopters!) and the plot was highly entertaining, if a tiny bit predictable.

The romance, however, fell a bit flat. You know when you watch So You Think You Can Dance and a couple dances with technical precision, but the judges say there's not enough chemistry between them? That's exactly how this was: Elle and Marsh made all the right moves, but there wasn't any spark there. I never felt the rush of expectation when they were left alone, and even though theirs wasn't an instalove, it still wasn't believable enough for me.

Elle was a great heroine, one I could easily admire. She refused to be limited by her gender and preferred flying airships to husband-hunting. The secondary characters were fabulously developed and I can't wait to see more of them in the second installment, The Clockwork Heart. A Conspiracy of Alchemists has a very clean ending and it could easily have been a standalone, but I was very excited when the second book was announced.

I can't promise you'll remember all the details a month after you finish this book, but I can promise you'll have a great time reading it.

By Janita Van Dyk 28 Jan 2013 4

Three words: Steampunk, Alchemy, Magic.

That was all I needed to read when I requested this book from NetGalley. Feuding, power-hungry Alchemists and secret Warlock orders abound in this intense steampunk thriller. Plot twists (some obvious, some a little sneakier), some steamy romance (pardon the pun), and flying dirigibles takes advantage of the booming Industrial age. Underneath the scientific and technological innovations of the time lies the shrinking Shadow realm, pressed back as more and more of the world is brought out into the "light" with science and industry.

Elle is a pilot, the daughter of a scientist, and a forward-thinking woman who doesn't give much thought to the Shadow world. Things change when she runs into an old friend, Patrice, and his guest, Mr. Marsh, who ask her to fly a package to Great Britain. A simple delivery turns into a fight for life and death against the power-hungry Alchemists, sky pirates, and desperate foes. Through all these obstacles, Elle is a likeable heroine: she maintains a rational edge, stays true to her convictions, and her witty dialogue sets the tone of the book.

It takes a little longer in the book to get to know Marsh, but it's worth the agonizing process of becoming familiar with him, as Elle uncovers the secrets and personalities surrounding her new "friend"...okay romantically-inclined partner. However, the age difference between them is a little daunting: Marsh is slow-aging immortal, Elle is seventeen? Only a couple hundred years difference between the two. I'm not a fan of huge age gaps, even if the guy looks like Robert Pattinson. I don't know why, but it's slightly creepy to me. That aside, their romance was perfect: they didn't fall in love at first sight, but developed as kinda-friends first, at least friends that were intensely attracted towards one another...It felt believable, relaxed at some parts, super steamy intense at others.

There was some things that I struggled with as the book went on. It was set up nicely from the start, and I thought the world building was pretty much complete, but Liesel Schwarz would occasionally throw in new details and explanations that probably belonged near the beginning of the book, not three quarters of the way through. It kind of came across like she was developing the world and the story as she was writing it, so while the plot was clear, the mechanisms were not.

Liesel Schwarz took a lot of great influence from Greek mythologies and added a whole new layer of meaning in this book, but again, it felt like something was lacking in that the magical element of the story wasn't developed early enough. The first half of the book was so focussed on the technological parts that it felt like the magic was just bypassed until it became convenient to throw something in there related to it. I didn't understand it enough, and when it really started to be detrimental to the plot it was too difficult to understand the rules of the Shadow world.

I really liked the connections Liesel Shwartz built between the Warlocks, Shadow creatures, monks, scientists, and Alchemists, but I wasn't sure exactly where some of the groups stood in terms of Light vs Shadow, especially the Alchemists. Maybe she mentioned it in the book and I forgot, but I'm still not sure if they fit in the Shadow category, in the Light, or somewhere inbetween? If you've read this, let me know!

My last thoughts: The setting was great (but not steampunk enough), the characters were awesome, and the plot was intense and well-paced. However, not enough of the magical elements were set up from the get-go to make me feel as familiar with them as Elle or Marsh probably did. Great climactic ending that sets your teeth on edge, even if the magical elements are a little confusing. If you're a fan of steampunk, historical fiction, and fantasy, read this!

Review quote

"Oh my Steampunk God! . . . If you like steampunk you definitely have to give this jewel a try. It would be a sin not to, really."--Butterfly-o-Meter Books "A wonderful sense of fun on every page . . . Visit [your] nearest bibliographic emporium and seek this rather magnificent tome out."--The Eloquent Page "I truly enjoyed this novel and strongly suggest it to Steampunk fans. I'm convinced "A Conspiracy of Alch"emists will rock your world!"--Tynga's Reviews "Pure fun to read."--Karissa's Reading Review