Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
It was all very confusing. Eleanor's head swam as Lord Greychester, the man she had known as Marsh but she now preferred to call Hugh, explained how the Warlocks and the Nightwalkers were engaged in a battle with the Alchemists for the control of Pythia the Cybele who could defeat the Alchemists and their own Nightwalker allies, who are like our Nightwalker allies but so much eviller, and that it was now her destiny to become the Cybele, or Pythia, which was the Oracle. All she wanted to do was fly dirigibles. It was all very confusing.
Elle, as she was sometimes known, felt a strange lurch in the pit of her stomach, which was either physical attraction, hunger, indigestion or the start of the metamorphosis from Ella into Pythia or Cybele. If only she could concentrate on what Marsh was saying, but what with her head swimming, her stomach churning, the voices in her head whispering, a stowaway fairy chattering away and Marsh's muscles rippling in a physique that was remarkably well preserved in a man of 210 years old, she found herself reduced to repeating that this was the early 20th century and a woman could do anything a man could do - with the possible exception, she told herself, of taking a woman in his powerful arms and crushing his sandalwood-scented lips against hers in a breath-taking kiss because this isn't going to one of those novels thank you very much, although why she kept thinking of Marsh doing that to her was quite beyond her. It was all very confusing.
Elle was having such strange thoughts since meeting Lord Greychester, and she was confused as to why everyone talked in such a mock-mystical manner and yet threw in curious phrases that she was certain would not come into fashion for at least another eighty years. It all seemed very dodgy. She would have been even more confused if she had heard the Grand Master of the Order of Warlocks, whose conversation normally sounded like someone intoning the inscription on Knight Templar's sarcophagus, describe her father's possible death as "collateral damage" as though he had suddenly morphed into a junior public relations executive (whatever one of those might be). Fortunately Marsh was even ruder to the Grand Master than he was to Eleanor, though the Grand Master didn't respond to insults by lecturing him on early feminist theory or staring at his rippling physique. Hugh found it all very confusing.
And as for her poor, kidnapped father, she had almost forgotten about him. A terrible realisation hit her: the mystifying adventure that had suddenly taken over her life was subtitled The Chronicles Of Light and Shadow. Chronicles. Plural. She faced the horrifying realisation that nothing would be properly resolved by the end of the book and that she would simply be plunged into yet another adventure. She might not see her dear, dear father again till perhaps Book Four, while she was unlikely to settle down with Hugh's rippling physique until Steampunk went out of fashion again (though at least she could use her new-found powers to defeat this ungentlemanly reviewer from revealing that much of the plot). If only she could prevent eminence grise Liesel Schwarz from investing the story with the requisite humour and careful plotting, she might prevent such a sequel. It seemed unlikely.
Something lurched inside her. It might have been fear because it didn't seem to be hunger or indigestion, although she was a bit hazy about internal organs and they all seemed to lurching at one time or another, even when she wasn't peeking at Marsh's rippling physique. It was all very confusing.
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