Anne Lyle: Alchemist of Souls

Brian G Turner

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Anyone here readnig Anne Lyle's "The Alchemist of Souls"?

I know there's a review on the front end of chronicles by Stephen Palmer:
http://www.sffchronicles.co.uk/2012/05/29/review-alchemist-of-souls-by-anne-lyle/

but I'm currently reading this and greatly enjoying it.

While it's been slow to develop so far, that's not a problem because the world of Elizabethan England - albeit with a fantasy twist (Elizabeth I married, is a widow, and has grown sons) - has been recreated extremely vividly.

As the review points out there's no fat - there's no sense of ambling through the daisies with peripheral characters for the sake of it - and the attention to detail is stunning.

When we walk through London, it feels very real - we turn left, we turn right, the houses are different in every district.

And the backdrop involves the threatre of the time, with Shakespeare's actors and Christopher Marlowe very much a part of the tapestry. As someone with an interest in theatre, I really get the references, but even more so, enjoy them.

The whole experience suggests infinite care and research has gone into making this book, but more than that, she doesn't even labour on it.

I've just read a piece on the lead character riding out with a group from London to meet with Queen Elizabeth herself, and the writing remains tight and extremely effective. And retains an appropriate level of tension. It's only seven pages, including dialogue, but it's highimpact.

I haven't finished the book yet, so I'll need read anything below prefaced "Spoilers!" if they're posted before I've read it.

The main reason for this post is:

1. I'm really enjoying how well written this piece is;
2. Is anyone else reading this as well?
 

Jo Zebedee

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Yes, I got it out of the library and thoroughly enjoyed it. I found it a little hard to suspend disbelief around the Skaylings given the historical accuracy within the detail, but was happy to go along with it. I thought Mal was a very good character, I enjoyed the theatre scenes, and would reccommend it to anyone.
 

Shingetsu

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I actually came across this book not to long ago while searching for Douglas Hulick's new book and saw he has a quote for The Alchemist of Souls. It sounded real interesting and I thought I should read it soon. Perhaps even sooner now.
 

Stephen Palmer

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I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing where she takes this next. Much potential, I feel, especially the skraelings themselves.
 

Jen526

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Heh. :) I just finished reading the Kindle sample, and yeah, it definitely went into my "to buy" pile.

Glad to know it continues well.
 

Grunkins

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It's biding its time in my TBR stacks right now. Looks very promising.
 

Brian G Turner

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Just read the theatre scene - very dramatic! (you'll know what I mean when you've read it!) Am going to have to finish the book in one go now. :)
 

Brian G Turner

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A good satifying ending, too, with plenty open for sequels.

What was especially nice about this story is that it was hard to predict how anything would devlop, let alone turn out. Was certainly surprised by some of the revelations, though on reflection the foreshadowing was there.
 

Mouse

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I've nearly finished this. Two chapters and the epilogue to go!

What I don't get though, is how are Mal and Sandy that skrayling fella when weren't they there when he died? Or am I misinterpreting something. I thought dead skraylings had to be reborn in unborn babies. So, they're Erishen (Erishin - can't remember), but yet they were physically there when he was killed. Confused.

Absolutely love Ned. Love Ned and Gabe. Can't flaming stand Coby.
 

Brian G Turner

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I think it's that the dying Skrayling finds the nearest unborn babes to be born into and selects one - and that Erishen panicked to jump into the first one, without realising it was a twin, and thus became spread between both.
 

Mouse

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Yeah I get that. What I mean is, Mal and Sandy weren't unborn babies, were they. They were there when Erishen was killed with their other brother too. Unless I've read it wrong.
 

Brian G Turner

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I got confused on that at first, but AFAIK it's two separate events. Seemed clearer in the second book. Unless I read it wrong. :)
 

Ursa major

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I think those are Erishen's memories of his (body's) death. Mal and Sandy didn't experience them directly. (I think the confusion arises because the meories are portrayed so vividly that we believe Mal must have been there.)


I really enjoyed the book, as I said here, and the sequel is sitting on my Kindle, waiting to be read. :)



(By the way, am I the only person who thinks that the Skrayling ambassador, Kiiren, may be female?)
 

Juliana

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Ursa, I understood him to be male, but read the sequel and see what you think after that, as there are new characters/ situations which help understand the skraylings better!

I read them one straight after the other, so they have blurred together a bit in my memory, but am pretty sure that its the second book that brings more detail about skrayling society.
 

Brian G Turner

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Ah right. Hopefully it'll make sense in book two then. I finished AoS last night.
So far as I understand it, Erishen's death was when Mal and Sandy were still developing babies, and both men have flashbacks of the death memory.

However, later on, Mal and Sandy are forced along with the hunters on another attack on a Skrayling, and it's this that Mal feels great shame about around Kiiren, even though he played no active part.

As for Kiiren's gender - something I really liked about the book was how sensitively issues of sexuality were dealt with, and that relationships remained the key focus and not the grunting and sweating part. :)
 

Mouse

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However, later on, Mal and Sandy are forced along with the hunters on another attack on a Skrayling, and it's this that Mal feels great shame about around Kiiren, even though he played no active part.
Yes, that's what I was talking about! Right, makes sense now. I thought that was Erishen. I did wonder if it was a different skrayling.
 
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