This is a great first novel of a series and an even better first novel. Nick Baker has created a truly original world to base an increasingly faster paced adventure. With echoes of Philip Pulman, Kate Mosse and the style of Conan Doyle, the story threads alchemy, history, science and fantasy to involve the reader in a believable yet very different version of the late 20th century. This is achieved as much by a studied use of language and words as by any other means but from the start you are aware that things are different. The difference is Alchemy and the author presents a richly researched and cogent history and place for alchemy in his world. The story itself develops beautifully giving time to enjoy the writing and the wealth of research and explanation required to evolve a series of this length (this is only the first book). I was drawn in and the end of the book came as a shock and left me wanting more. Highly recommended for all lovers of a good fantasy and a good story. This book is for people with a love of good writing who want entertainment without the oversimplification of much modern fiction.