World politics, demons stalking the earth, the Fae and the Morrigan - what's not to love?! This is an action-packed book that kick-starts in today's world and then catapults into the future. A problem has been solved - a world problem - but is that the answer to mankind's problems or only the beginning? As the blurb states 'modern technology is proving useless, old magic from a bygone era' comes once again to the fore. Told in several parts, we get to know a variety of characters - my favourite amongst them being the illustrious Cookie, I defy any reader not to fall in love with him! We are also introduced to Iamo and Riga - the main characters of sequel, Shaman's Drum (which I've yet to devour) and boy, is Riga the kind of heroine I like - kick-ass in the extreme! The developing love between them is told sensitively and realistically - in fact, the whole story is handled in a very 'real' way, which really appealed to me, I don't like it when books get too 'fantastical'. A great book, and it's clear Ailsa Abraham knows her stuff, I learnt a lot about the old/new ways from reading this. Highly recommended.
‘Alchemy’ is the book written in response to requests for a prequel to her novel ‘Shaman’s Drum’, and having read the latter I was keen to read the backstory. I discovered more than backstory. Written from multiple viewpoints this well written novel covers a large span of history in the author’s modern world. I was caught immediately by Proffessor Sawhele Fielding and a huge moral dilemma. The world is corrupt and heading for crisis, and Sawhele is handed a solution, but one that will change the world and its resources forever. This novel sees the collapse of religion and fossil fuels, due to the actions of the Professor, setting the scene for a world without religion and conflict. Wherever you stand on religion, this book offers a fascinating view as the old faiths resurface as modern day religions recede. Magic returns and pagan beliefs rise as mother earth recovers, and a whole new culture emerges, but not without problems of its own… These problems, years after the Changes, will have to be faced by two opposites, a Black Shaman Assassin and a Priest of the Mother Goddess. Who said there’d be no conflict! I thoroughly enjoyed this author’s intelligent and passionate writing. Each chapter is written by a different character, but their viewpoints remain true, each with a strong and plausible voice. If you enjoy paganism and magic, passion and tension, strong leads and no nonsense characters, this is for you!
I had already read and enjoyed Shaman's Drum but, like a lot of readers, was left wanting more - the world that was created was fascinating but its origins were only hinted at. Having a scientific background I wanted to know more about how life could have changed so radically. It was believable that magic users might have become common-place but still bought take-aways but I wanted to know how. Similarly, as Shaman's Drum concentrated only on Riga and Iamo, the main characters, during their adventure, I wanted to know more about them. Again, their past history was hinted at but never fully explained.
I was, therefore, delighted when the prequel, Alchemy, was released. Here at last was all the information that we had been waiting for and there were no disappointments.
From the scientific discovery that made The Changes possible, which was credible, to the people who had helped form the personalities of the two main characters, all was explained. While Shaman's Drum concentrated on Iamo and Riga, Alchemy brings in many other interesting, amusing, detestable, sometimes comical and sometimes frightening dramatis personnae.
I found the formative years of both of them very moving and it explained very clearly how they had become the adults we met in Shaman's Drum. I do not think I need to say #spoileralert if I say that neither of them had an easy or conventional childhood.
Having met the new characters in Alchemy and immediately re-read Shaman's Drum, I cannot wait to see if there will be a third book in the series and if any of their friends return. I, for one, will be disappointed if they don't.
While Shaman's Drum is more fantasy and romance, Alchemy is firmly grounded in highly possible realities and will appeal more to the down to earth reader, although there are still plenty of magic-users and some fearsome demons in it.
When I added this book to my ‘must read’ list, I expected something written with an ethereal or spiritual slant and at first I thought I would be disappointed. What with the highly controversial and well written plot that begins with an amazing discovery that will change our world; not to mention all the politics that are inevitably involved, I found myself wondering where was the magic? So when the word ‘magic’ finally appeared in part two I relaxed. I loved all of the fascinating characters, each one so different and real. As a fledgling writer myself, I am constantly surprised by most of the books I read, and ‘Alchemy’ is one of the best stories I have read in quite a while. Totally different from most genres, it mixes themes in a way you wouldn’t expect. I mean, would you ever think of combining politics and religion with magic? But when you consider that alchemy is the ancient art of changing almost anything into something else, you can see the connection and it really works. I am looking forward to reading the next book in the series, ‘Shaman’s Drum’.
I read Shaman's Drum when it came out and really enjoyed it, but there was a slight feeling I couldn't quite put my finger on, like when you made a delicious curry and enjoy it but remember afterwards that you had a jar of mango chutney in the cupboard - it wasn't essential but would have completed it for you and it niggles a tiny bit.
Then I read Alchemy! it gripped me from the first page, and I found myself longing for the evenings so I could curl up and read some more. The book describes the discovery that will change the world forever - and it is and should be a good thing - but like any momentous discovery it has repercussions not thought of, and it is the potential for disaster that shapes the latter part of the novel and brings into it our two heroes, Iamo and Riga. Both have the complete background story which I think was for me the "mango chutney" of Shaman's Drum, not essential to the plot but (for me) essential for falling in love with them both and wanting so much more. Obviously now I am re-reading Shaman's Drum which is the second part in what I understand is to be a trilogy, and I am desperate to know what happens next. Thoroughly recommend reading this, but do set aside some quiet time as it's so annoying not being able to read it in one shot.
As with my review for Shaman’s Drum, I have to admit to a vested interest here as I am mentioned by Ailsa in her acknowledgements – even though, in reality, I did very little – and so my reading was again spiced with extra anticipation.
For everyone who could not get Riga and Iamo out of their minds after reading Shaman’s Drum, this new novel explains so much of the background and history that was hinted at, but not disclosed in that first novel. I particularly liked finding out the origin of Riga’s name, although I really feel I should have guessed beforehand! But Alchemy goes beyond just our two heroes and there are other characters who demand our attention. A beautiful professor and an expert in ancient religions (I must audition for that part!) who invent…well, read it for yourself and find out. But it is the source of everything that happens afterwards.
For those who have read Shaman’s Drum, you know what you’re getting here and won’t be disappointed. For those coming new to the tale, start here, read Shaman’s Drum, and keep your fingers crossed for another!
This prequel provides the background leading up to Shamans Drum and describes the world in which the Trilogy is set. Does this mean it is boring? No! It is a fascinating world which is recognisable and the reader can easily relate to.
It also details the lives of the characters who are involved, from their own and others perspectives. Does this mean that it is boring? No! The author has skillfully introduced the characters, from their own and others point of view, in some cases from their childhood by dispersing the information throughout the book. And what a cast of characters they are! From academics, novellists and ordinary people (all once born), through magic wielding pagans from a plethora of cults and beliefs, to mythical creatures ranging from elves to demons.
This is a prequel on a grand scale and so interesting I didn't want it to stop.
I read Shaman's Drum last year and thoroughly enjoyed it and would have loved to discover more about the main characters Riga and Iamo so I eagerly wanted to read this prequel!
I found Ailsa's writing style a joy to read. Alchemy is full of interesting characters and I enjoyed the way they intertwine. I particularly liked finding out about Riga's and Iamo's lives when they were young, it gave further insight "into" them. It really does provide an interesting background journey to Shaman's Drum.
Again, the author has created a world that it is easy to relate to. In all, an entertaining, enjoyable tale with romance, adventure, terror, and magic - an invaluable prequel!
Ailsa Abraham’s novel Alchemy starts with a premise that would be the perfect ending for many novels, in appearance promising an idyllic utopian future for all. With a mysterious thriller-like beginning, a discovery that for once falls in the right hands, and a deal too good for all governments to ignore, one wonders where the story will go from there. Fascinating and enlightened characters appear and then quickly get to work, and new characters, whose relationship to the previous ones is not always evident at first, make an entry. There is magic related to Pagan religious practice, and we follow two young children, a boy and a girl, as they discover their faith and are trained to reach the highest ranks. Do not worry if you’re not very versed in the different pagan practices and groups, as Adrian, a Professor in Ancient Religious Studies and once born (not magical) and his girlfriend, Helen, a thriller writer, serve as a point of contact and questioning guides into the ins and outs of the new world religious order. And if you thought everything seemed too nice to be true, there’s evil at work and dangerous alliances that put humanity at risk. A pair of unlikely hero and heroine will have to step forward and pay the price. If you think fights over fuel and religious wars are responsible for all that’s wrong in our world, read this book and you might think again. Alchemy is a novel that combines a plot interesting from an ethical and philosophical point of view, with a good story and fascinating characters that I hope will be further developed in other books in the series. And if you like a good romantic story of impossible love, Riga and Iamo are far more interesting than Romeo and Juliette. (And two of the most intriguing characters I’ve met in recent times). If you have an open mind and like to explore big questions whilst being transported to worlds both familiar and completely alien to ours, you should read this book. If you love adventures that go beyond the usual, don’t miss it. If you love beautifully written books with great characters, this one is for you too. In summary, if you have a bit of imagination and enjoy reading, give it a go. I am looking forward to reviewing Shaman’s Drum soon.
This isn’t my genre but I do like to read outside of it now and again. And I’m glad I did. Alchemy had me gripped from the start and, yes, I know it’s a cliché, but I couldn’t put it down. I liked the author’s style of writing and the way she wrote about the interesting characters.
If you want to read a book with terror, magic, adventure and romance then pick up this book. You will not be disappointed.