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A Conspiracy of Alchemists (Chronicles of Light and Shadow) Mass Market Paperback – 30 Jul 2013


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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 421 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey Books (30 July 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345548264
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345548269
  • Product Dimensions: 10.6 x 2.8 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,689,791 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Inventive, lush and full of heart, The Chronicles of Light and Shadow are books to be devoured. Schwarz is a force to be reckoned with" (George Mann)

"The soon-to-be high-priestess of British steampunk" (The Independent)

"a distinctive read, made so much better by Schwarz’s undoubted skill as a writer and story teller, creating a world of richly layered environments ... I’m not really sure what else you could ask from a novel: believable characters, an engrossing plot, written by a capable author ... highly enjoyable" (sci-fi-online)

"The world itself is beautifully realised, and mixes a few well-loved steampunk staples (you can’t escape airships, for example) with some unique ideas that really bring it to life ... genuine brilliance" (GeekPlanetOnline.com) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A thrilling, genre-breaking alternate reality Steampunk adventure. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Pablo Cheesecake (The Eloquent Page) TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
When dirigible pilot Elle Chance accepts an unusual cargo in Paris she finds herself in the middle of the deadly war between the Alchemists and the Warlocks.

The Alchemists will stop at nothing to acquire the coveted carmot stone and its key, and Elle must do everything in her power to thwart their diabolical plans.

Embarking on a perilous cross-continental adventure with the mysterious Mr Marsh, Elle is forced to question everything she ever knew about herself to fulfil her destiny and prevent a magical apocalypse...

The first thought that struck me when I finished reading A Conspiracy of Alchemists is that there is a wonderful sense of fun on every page. Liesel Schwarz is certainly skilled when it comes to putting the reader right in the midst of the frenetic, fast placed world she has created. Though things rattle along at breakneck speed, the good news is that for the most part, the character development doesn't suffer because of this (more on that a bit later).

There are reverential nods to many classic adventure stories and I've been trying to figure out the best way to describe this succinctly. The best comparison I can come up with is - imagine a mash up of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with Moonlighting, and just a dash Bulldog Drummond wrapped up in a crispy steampunk-flavoured shell.

The heart of this novel is the relationship between Elle Chance and the enigmatic, and unexpected, new man in her life Mr Hugh Marsh. Schwarz is obviously having a ball when she wrote their interactions, Chance and Marsh do have some marvellous verbal sparring. The constant back and forth between the two is what made the characters for me. Even the descriptions of the pair are wonderfully evocative.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book Gannet TOP 500 REVIEWERTOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Jan. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
When Elle Chance arrives in Paris to do a job for an old friend, things don't turn out quite as she expects. A locked box of vital importance, a diamond bracelet that won't come off, an absinthe fairy who won't come out of the bracelet and the mysterious Mr Marsh are just the start. Elle isn't sure what she's got herself into, but when people start shooting holes in her airship she knows she doesn't like it.

Elle might be a rational young woman raised in the scientific Light, but the magical Shadow has taken note of her and now things are about to get interesting.

This debut novel is a great steampunk romp. The year is 1903, Paris hums with opium, absinthe and fairies, and Elle flies a dirigible. So far, so steampunk. The atmospheric details are great as the action shifts to Oxford, Venice and Istanbul, and the war between the dodgy alchemists and ruling Council of Warlocks fits beautifully in this setting.

Elle's a clever heroine, forthright and independent. I love how she reacts to Marsh's big revelations and how she (quite rightly) won't have any of it. True, there were times towards the end where I felt she was being unnecessarily obtuse, but it was consistent with her character.

Marsh was a nice mystery, with his slow reveal of identities. He's also charming and noble, with a long history and plenty of hints at a sad past. I liked how his outlook slowly changed as he started to see things from Elle's point of view. And he was never boring.

There are a scattering of other interesting characters too, but this is mostly Elle and Marsh's tale. The setting is rich, the detail is beautifully balanced by the magical elements, and the ending is interesting. After becoming immersed in this world so quickly it was a bit of a wrench to leave it, so I'll be interested to see where part two goes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jennifer on 25 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover
A memorable and refreshing book that earns Schwarz the well-deserved moniker of `Empress of Steampunk'. It also delivers across several genres: romance, action, detective, and a dash of comedy.

As someone who loves to guess what's going to happen several hundred pages before it does, this book hooked me on several levels within the first 15 minutes of reading.
What's in the box that Elle is supposed to be transporting?
Why has she been encouraged to put the bracelet on, and more interestingly, why won't it come off?
What does Mr Marsh really want?
What is the secret no one will tell her about her mother?
There are enough layers in this book to require a rope of farmers' onions to reveal them all.

As I get older and life gets more crowded, it usually takes a couple of weeks to finish a novel. This book made me want to ignore all life's demands and sit and read it at a single sitting, simply because it was so engrossing.

Our journey across Paris, London, Vienna, Venice and Constantinople was visually breathtaking, and would translate brilliantly onto the screen. Liesel Schwarz has managed to combine the romance of The Jewel of the Nile and the action of The Transporter, with the civility and enchantment of War of the Worlds and Sherlock Holmes.

I impatiently await the second book in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By R. F. Stevens HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 4 Feb. 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I liked this Vine offering and look forward to the next few books from Liesel Schwartz. It is not really Science Fiction, much more closely Fantasy blended with Victorian Steam-punk, almost perhaps as if Philip Pullman was allied with Alan Moore, but with a fresh new twist.

The brief Amazon blurb is surprisingly accurate, and as I hate spoilers it would be a shame to enlarge on it. The quality of Schwartz's writing is generally very good, and my proof copy had very few errors, boding well for the final release. The settings, environment, and main characters are all well depicted, with excellent 'pictures on the insides of my eyelids', and I found myself enjoying being carried along with the pace of the story, even though I usually prefer the hard-science kinds of escapist fiction.

Stepping back from it, it is obviously part of a series and feels decidedly incomplete as a standalone novel, and too many threads are left dangling, which is why for me it has lost a star. I suspect it will be better being re-read as a part of a greater whole when more of the series have been published.
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