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The Alchemist's Box: Merchant Blades Book I (Volume 1) Paperback – April 9, 2016
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The Amazon Book Review
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About the Author
Alex Avrio is an author of fantasy short stories, novellas, and novels. Her previous dark fantasy novella, the Dreaming Demon, can be found for sale on Amazon. She was born in Nottingham, UK, to Greek parents. She has lived both in Greece and England where she returned to study for an MBA in the University of Kent. She has also a PhD in E-business Strategy Management from the University of Kent. She has been writing stories from an early age, and after concluding the PhD she decided that it was the time to try in all earnest to become a professional writer. Alexandra currently lives with her husband and their two cats in Newcastle upon Tyne, a place so far up north that if you go any further you’re south again. She would love to share with you her love of fantasy and adventures. She also has a book, bingo and dessert habit to fuel, so please help by buying the books. To find out more about Alex Avrio, and to keep up to date on her latest work please visit www.alexavrio.com. She would love to hear from you, and can be reached by E.mail: email@example.com Facebook: facebook.com/alexavrio Twitter: @alexavrio
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Top customer reviews
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Alex and I met in an online writers’ workshop and I provided notes on an early version of this story. It was good then, so good that I bought the paperback the moment I learned it was published! I’m glad I gave it a reread. As I write this review, I’m thinking of who I can trust enough to lend the book to that will actually give it back.
I succumbed to a nasty bug that my family passed around like a four layer bean dip and spent about thirty six hours under a blanket. My only escape was Avrio’s world and the Merchant Blades. I read a couple hundred pages on my road to recovery. It brought me back to those stay home from school sick days of my youth, where I would burn through novels and hope I never felt better. Please don’t go licking toilet seats to emulate my experience, Dear Reader, the adventure is every bit as good when you are well.
Avrio’s chapter lengths allow the modern busy-body a sense of accomplishment even if there is only ten minutes for a read. I enjoy the pace so much, that I adopted it in my own novels, starting with A Paleolithic Fable. We the readers are pulled in so many different directions with social media, the dreaded television, over-working, over-studying, and actual contact with other human beings and those distractions take away from our precious novel time. Short, episodic chapters like those in The Alchemist’s Box are the perfect solution to modern society’s attention deficit.
Despite their 1800s feel, the Merchant Blades takes a modern stance on female involvement in the military. I love it! My sister is an Iraq war veteran and one tough cookie. Regina’s struggle with sexism in the story very much mirrors the struggles modern females in the real world encounter when they choose traditionally male occupations. Regina doesn’t have it easy, but she’s got grit and a female side. That level of character development is appreciated and necessary. I think Rhonda Rousey would make a great Regina Fitzwaters in Merchant Blades movies!
Here is a quote to illustrate Avrio’s take on gender discrimination:
“I’m fed up with men in charge not knowing what they’re talking about.” Onoria turned towards Regina. “Aren’t you?”
“I don’t like people in charge that don’t know what they’re doing, male or female,” Regina said.
I think Avrio struck a fine balance between adventure and supernatural fantasy in the Merchant Blades series and I’ll be the first to buy future installments in this series.
There is a complete study in world building there. You can really feel the comforts, pleasures, and sinister places where the story takes the leaders and their team of mercenaries. The author's creative abilities go beyond the telling of a good story. Everything is expanded like the difference in watching television and physically traveling along right in the scenes.
I am eager to read more of the adventures of Regina and Jaeger. There is sure to be more fascination for me. I loved this novel and recommend it with enthusiasm.
Her characters are easily likable and have depth. Regina is a strong, assertive heroine, in a man’s world, she has proven herself and has reaped the benefits of her military prowess. As the leader of the Merchant Blades, she is a tough, experienced leader respected by her team. Jaeger, her second in command, is her complete opposite. He is an officer from the opposing side, when war split their land into two battling factions. Although a leader, he is a complex individual, bearing much of the brutish nature that is representative of his world. He is guarded about his past and carries secrets that weigh him down emotionally. Throughout the story, a bond between the two develops, one that is both manipulated and preyed upon by a dark entity and results in a consequence that neither can run from.
The historical aspects of this story were very well done and added to the overall atmosphere, the theme, and the development of the main characters. Intertwined with the fantasy elements, The Alchemist’s Box is a creative, satisfying read that enthralls the reader with its rich settings, deeply developed, characters, and quest-driven plot. Within these fantasy cultures, Avrio highlights some modern world views, sexism, gender roles, female empowerment mixing them with myth, legend, and a bit of horror.
The pace of the book is steady, keeping the reader engaged and with short chapters, the book is easy to read and if needed, put down momentarily. The last third of the book is where the action, anticipation, and dark fantasy elements are heightened, taking the characters into the pyramid, a dark horrifying place where Avrio really expands the imagination with her creative horror characters and settings.
The Alchemist’s Box is an enticing dark historical fantasy, that is sure to engage readers who enjoy military themed books, with fantasy elements and a touch of horror. Avrio does not disappoint and I look forward to reading more of her adventure series.
Most recent customer reviews
The Alchemist’s Box is a great read, full of short, snappy chapters and great chemistry between the two main characters.Read more