Series: Alchemists and Elementals 01
Author: Cassie Sweet
Genre: High Fantasy, Fantasy
Length: Novel (264pgs)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (2nd December 2013)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥4 ½ Hearts
Blurb: Theodyne Thespacian is a thief. Caught and imprisoned, he’s done his time and vowed never to return to the life of pulse-racing excitement and easy money. But when one of his former associates tells him about the Eye of Truth—an artifact that will open worlds of untold wealth—it seems like the perfect crime. However, for Theodyne, with the brand of a thief on his face, to be caught again means death. So instead, he goes to the Villa of Nicodemus Valencia, the Master Alchemist who owns the artifact… and applies for a job.
Nicodemus descends directly from the founder of the Gold School, and of all those in that bloodline, he possesses the strongest gift for alchemy. His formulas have made him wealthy. Though they’ve failed to give him the one thing, he’s longed for most—love. When Theodyne appears at his Villa, he recognizes potential for alchemy and offers him apprenticeship. But then an ancient foe purged from the lands long ago reappears and threatens the Gold School, the Eye of Truth, and all the Dominical city-states. Nicodemus and Theodyne must now band together in courage to battle evil and can only hope they will not lose all they’ve come to hold dear.
Review: Theodyne finds himself in desperate straits when he is released from prison, his sister has moved, his belongings long gone and his stash of buried goodies seem to have been discovered. Swearing to stick to the straight and narrow Theo seeks honest work but being branded a thief makes his options limited. When a former associate tries to tempt Theo with stories of untold riches by gaining the Eye of Truth, Theo ends up at the owner’s villa seeking gainful employment. Nicodemus isn’t looking for a new employee when Theodyne comes knocking on his door, but he notices the man has a potential for alchemy and takes him on as his apprentice. When Nicodemus is called to the Gold School, which his family founded, he takes Theodyne with him and they discover an ancient foe is gathering and determined to discover the secrets of the Gold School while seeking power in the Dominical city-states. Theo and Nico must work together to battle the evil that plagues the alchemists and can only hope that they lose that which means the most to them.
Oh, what a treat this book was to read, a wonderful fantasy story with great characters and a brilliant plot. Theodyne lived the high-life before getting caught red-handed stealing. Now he has learned his lesson well. And although destitute, he does not intend to return to his old way of life. Taking an apprenticeship looks to be his best option and the man offering it to him looks even better. Nico is stunned when he first sees Theo but the man’s power calls to him first. Their attraction is felt from the first but they keep their feelings to themselves, the relationship that develops between them is a slow burning one, they have much more important things to worry about as Theo begins his studies and Nico mentors him.
I loved this story that is heavy on the plot and lighter on the relationship, I found that the writing of the story was brilliant and dragged me in to a world where change is happening and dark forces are working in the background. The characters are interesting and come to life leading us on an adventure that never bores. The story is quite simple. Theodyne has served his punishment, but will be forever marked. His experiences in prison have added to his knowledge, which he puts to good use. Being given a chance he does not intend to squander, he strives to do his best but refuses to be put down by anyone. When he joins up with Nico, he learns a lot about himself, he lays his loyalty at Nico’s feet, and when danger comes, he will fight besides Nico every step of the way. Nico takes on his apprentice just because, and he finds quickly that Theo is honest and can be trusted and come to rely on the man as they try to discover how far the evil has spread.
We follow Theo and Nico as they work to discover just what is going on at the Gold School, finding that there might be traitors in their midst, dark magic being used and that the corruption might just be deeper than they suspected. We also see how their relationship is built on trust and friendship, Theo has had a powerful lover in the past and finds it hard to put himself in that position again, but giving that trust makes their relationship beautiful and lasting. We see a lot of secondary characters who each have an important part in the story, because without even one of them the story wouldn’t work quite as well, their supporting roles make this story great and doesn’t bog it down or hold it back. There’s just enough action and it never gets over the top, we see Theo improving with his studies at a good pace and the explanation for the elementals means that we don’t get lost when it plays a larger part in the story.
I recommend this to those who love fantasy and high fantasy, a steady relationship being built, trust being earned, devious goings on, great characters, a brilliant storyline, and an ending that leaves you wondering what will happen next.