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

3.9 out of 5 stars 37 customer reviews

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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: 4,141,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"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

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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Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In a steampunk world of magic and technology, Elle Chance is a feisty airship pilot who is determined not to let being a woman hold her back. But when Elle accepts a job transporting the enigmatic Mr Marsh, she finds herself caught up in a battle between the Warlocks and the Alchemists that will decide not only her own destiny, but the fate of the entire world.

I absolutely adore the steampunk aesthetic, and so when I saw the synopsis of this book, I thought it would be right up my street. And indeed, A Conspiracy of Alchemists gets off to a promising start, bringing us airships, vampires, literal absinthe fairies and magic and technology in equal measure.

Unfortunately, despite this early promise, the book really fails to deliver. This is the author's debut novel, and it definitely has that "first book" feel to it - instead of flowing naturally, the narrative has the feel of someone trying to adjust their style based on advice from a how to write guide, inserting excessive description for the sake of it, or inserting obvious plot devices. Certainly, by about halfway through, reading the book was beginning to feel like hard work.

It's not just a case of unpolished writing, however; the book also fails to live up to its potential when it comes to the plot. Instead of creating a complex and layered world, what we end up with are two fairly bland main characters - Elle, who proves to be far more useless and irritating than she first appeared, and Marsh, the obligatory handsome male lead. Whilst the Alchemists sit back in their chairs and scheme like useless parody villains, the story becomes more about the rather shallow romance between the two main characters than anything else.

Ultimately, A Conspiracy of Alchemists looked promising, but turned out to be a huge disappointment. Admittedly, the plot of the upcoming sequel does sound intriguing, but for me it may well be a case of once bitten, twice shy.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book follows Elle, a rebellious female dirigible pilot in male-dominated 1903, as she follows her destiny through a path of intrigue that leads her form Paris to Venice and then Constantinople (Istanbul).

I should start by saying this is my first `steampunk' novel, so in that sense I can't compare it to anything, but I used to read a lot of sci-fi and fantasy, so I can see many similarities.

In fact from other reviews I've read on steampunk / sci-fi websites, this book is something of a hybrid, and certainly I would describe it as something of a cross between Jules Verne, Harry Potter and Indiana Jones, with a bit of Twilight thrown in for good measure.

Not that I'm saying this book is written by a modern-day Jules Verne, but Schwartz does, to start with the positives, have a fairly good style which keeps up a good pace and weaves descriptive sights sounds and smells into the prose in a way that really helps to set the scene. She also throws in some interesting steampunk technology which gives the book a bit more interest.

On the downside the dialogue is a bit clichéd and the plot very much remains me of the adventure-film genre of aforementioned Indiana Jones, complete with a series of exotic camera-friendly locations. In fact the whole book reads like one of those novelised write-ups of a movie script, which makes me wonder if Ms Schwartz hasn't got one eye on a Hollywood deal for what apparently is a trilogy.

Another major disappointment is the heroine Elle who, although ostensibly a modern woman capable of standing up for herself, actually achieves very little on her own and needs almost constant assistance from the mysterious `Mr Marsh'.
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