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A Conspiracy of Alchemists: Book One in The Chronicles of Light and Shadow Kindle Edition

3.5 out of 5 stars 75 customer reviews

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Length: 434 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Editorial Reviews


"Inventive, lush and full of heart, The Chronicles of Light and Shadow are books to be devoured. Schwarz is a force to be reckoned with" George Mann "The soon-to-be high-priestess of British steampunk" The Independent "a distinctive read, made so much better by Schwarz's undoubted skill as a writer and story teller, creating a world of richly layered environments ... I'm not really sure what else you could ask from a novel: believable characters, an engrossing plot, written by a capable author ... highly enjoyable" sci-fi-online "The world itself is beautifully realised, and mixes a few well-loved steampunk staples (you can't escape airships, for example) with some unique ideas that really bring it to life ... genuine brilliance"

About the Author

Liesel Schwarz writes fiction. A life-long fan of 19th Century Gothic literature, she is a hopeless romantic and loves Victorians, steampunk, fairies, fantasy monsters, the Fin de siecle and the correct way to drink absinthe. Liesel is currently busy with her doctorate in English and Creative Writing at Brunel University. She is definitely a cat person. To find out more, visit or follow Liesel on twitter: @Liesel_S

Product Details

  • File Size: 3441 KB
  • Print Length: 434 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (March 5, 2013)
  • Publication Date: March 5, 2013
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008TSC83C
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,644 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really wanted to like this book, since I gravitate towards books with female protagonists and historical details. Unfortunately, there was not a lot to like here.

The female protagonist, Elle Chance, was one dimensional and acted more like a spoiled teenager than an adult. When given directions she protested and complained or lashed out rather than asking for more information. I appreciate a character who is not a doormat, but is "Why?" really too much to ask before assuming that someone is trying to order you around for no reason? So much unnecessary melodrama...

The setting, being somewhere in between historical and fantasy, was interesting but not particularly well developed. Fleshing out these types of things would have contributed to world building. Instead of a fully realized world, this book felt like a tossed salad of tropes and things that the author thought would interest readers, with no true connectivity between them. The scenes which involved travel to various European locations didn't have any sense of being in those places or any connection to the locations. Generally if the setting changes a lot in a book, either the travel or the different places serve almost as characters within the story; contributing tension, atmosphere, romantic mood, or something. The settings here contributed so little the whole book might as well have been set in the same city.

Considering all of that, it isn't surprising that the male protagonist and the secondary characters were just as unsatisfying. Also, the plot's primary focus felt forced and sort of silly. Perhaps if the characters were well actualized, or the atmosphere of the locations was felt in the writing, or if the world was fully realized then the lame plot wouldn't matter so much. Unfortunately, with nothing to support it, the plot lacked excitement.

On the whole I was extremely disappointed with this book, and will not be continuing with the series.
Comment 16 of 19 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
Eleanor "Elle" Chance is far from your typical turn-of-the-century miss, foregoing traditional female pastimes such as teas, dances, and gossip for a career piloting her beloved dirigible, the Water Lily. But being a pilot is a risky and expensive enterprise, and in order to help fund her independent efforts Elle agrees to an under-the-table commission -- transporting a box from Paris to England. The seemingly innocuous cargo proves to be more than Elle bargained for, as she is attacked by an alchemist and barely escapes Paris with her ship intact. Forced into an uneasy alliance with the dashing Mr. Marsh (a.k.a. the Viscount Greychester, a.k.a. a powerful warlock), Elle finds herself thrust into a fight between the forces of Light and Shadow, a fight that threatens to disrupt the delicate balance of the world forever. Forced into a brewing war not of her own choosing, Elle uncovers dark secrets in her past, secrets that force her to reevaluate the world as she knows it and her place within it, promising to change the trajectory of her life forever -- if she survives.

With steampunk stories fast becoming a new favorite genre, I jumped at the opportunity to read Schwarz's debut. I loved her world-building -- she has all of the traditional steampunk elements, from dirigibles to clockwork inventions -- but where she separates her vision of early twentieth-century Europe from the rest is in her delineation between the elements of Shadow and Light. The Light represents Elle's familiar world -- her father's work as an inventor of spark-powered flying machines, a world of scientific, rational thought and technological advancement.
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1 Comment 8 of 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
This is a decent book. It's easy to pick up and read; I had no problem following the story. The pacing can be slow but there are enough points of tension and action to liven it up. Liesel Schwarz does a great job with detail. Keeping with the title, Schwarz mixes Fantasy with the Steampunk back drop very well. While reading, you will never forget the setting; the days when steam technology and airships were the future with magic, fairies and even bloodshed incorporated in the tale. The novel tends to get a bit repetitive and predictable at times so keep that in mind.

You don't have to be a Steampunk or Fantasy fan to enjoy this; as I have stated it's easy to pick up and read. If Steampunk and Fantasy are your cup of tea, give it a try. You might enjoy it.

Easy to read
Likeable characters
Recommended for Steampunk and Fantasy fans or those curious

Slow Paced
Somewhat Repetitive Plot
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Format: Hardcover
From my blog:
Disclaimer: Received from the publisher via netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

This was a fun, well-paced steampunk fantasy romance! I thought it was a strong start to a new series that I will be snatching as soon as available. It starts off with intrigue and action and keeps it up throughout the book. I loved the absinthe fairies and the inner monologue of Adele as she travels with Elle on her adventure.

I've always liked Wonder Woman and the archetype of strong, self-efficient feminine leads without them acting as if they have something to prove. Elle Chance is this kind of character. She is self-sufficent and able to stand on her own, but doesn't have that self-aggrandizement that can be so annoying. She questions Marsh and his motives from the beginning, which was smart in my book as why ever would you trust someone with your life and the life of a loved one based on his word alone?

Marsh, as her counterpart, is likeable with the tiniest hint of "hurt in the past" that makes you want Elle to fix him. Dashing, gentlemanly, and never condescending.

I enjoyed the turns of mythology in regards to oracles, the fantasy of magic with warlocks, and the steampunk ships, creations, mechanicals, and alchemists. The ending was satisfying even though it left you with heart palpitations and wanting the next book RIGHT NOW.

A Conspiracy of Alchemists publishes on March 4, 2013. So get it now and join me in the "wait, when is the SEQUEL?!"
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