Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Book Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

Title: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
Author: Liesel Schwarz
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication date: August 2013
Genre: Steampunk/Fantasy
Source: Bought

Description: 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.

My thoughts: I love this sort of fantasy novel: a slightly historical setting, lots of steampunk creations, and a female lead who knows what she wants from life and won't let the fact that she's a woman stop her. The book begins with Elle in Paris, meeting a contact who gives her a mysterious package to take back to England. Unfortunately, she's attacked before she can leave Paris, and this kicks off a journey where she and the enigmatic Mr Marsh are chased to her Cambridge home, then across Europe, to Constantinople.

The chase added a sense of urgency to the book, which I think might have lacked a little otherwise. Although there is a deadline driving the bad guys, our good guys are just trying to keep one step ahead of the danger. In a lot of places, then, Elle is forced into action because of outside factors, rather than her own drive. The events of A Conspiracy of Alchemists affect her a lot, however, so I'm optimistic that she'll be different in the rest of the trilogy.

The descriptions of the settings and scenery around our main characters are very well done. Liesel Schwarz brings Paris, Venice and Constantinople to life. I hope book two has as much traveling for Elle, because I'd really like to see what else Ms Schwarz can conjure up for the reader.

Overall, this was a great book. The plot carried me along, I feared for the characters' safety, despaired over some of their decisions, and cheered at their successes. I love the world Liesel Schwarz has created, and I found it a lot of fun to read this book as well. It's not written to be funny, as Gail Carriger's books are, but there is a certain sarcasm to some of the interactions which made it very entertaining. I really enjoyed the book, and I'm looking forward to the sequel when I can get a copy. I'm giving this one 7/10.


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