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The Alchemist's Touch: A Book of Underrealm (The Academy Journals) (Volume 1)
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover,"" illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Pre-order today
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***Although this book is subtitled as the Academy Journals, it is still a part of the Nightblade series in the Uderrealm series. I don't know if the storyline is going to go far left and into its own story and that's why the author decided to add another subtitle but I can tell you that it is definitely a part of the Nightblade series. They totally coincide with timelines, places, events, referenced characters, the same family groupings-- just some of the others within that family that we haven't met yet. At this point, at least, the Academy Journals seems to be developing more characters affiliated with the Nightblade series: insight into the lives of some of the most notorious family names from the the Nightblade sreies, perspective and intrigue into the last battle in the Nightblade series, and of course what life is like as a student at the Academy for wizards where most wizards within the realm have attended. The book can be read as a stand alone but if you're an adult or high school age, I'd suggest reading the Nightblade series 1-4 first.
The book centers around Ebon, the last surviving son to Shay, the Head of the feared and hated Drayden family. We get to follow his day to day life, becoming a part of his fears, struggles, joy and happiness. You can't help but become invested in this character. The poor kid's been through a lot! There are two other primary characters after Ebon: Therren and Kamel, Ebon's friends at the Academy. We only get to know them a little in this book but I'm hoping there's more details to come in the next installment (TBR May 31, 2016).
The writer does a nice job of laying out the storyline for us with good character development. The only issues I had were minor and could very well just be my issue, but those stemmed around an issue with the style of dialect. I found it hard sometimes to know if there was an error or if that was their actual wording. These were all minor yet a constant throughout the series, but you do kind of get a feel for it. The story is a good one and I'm excited for the next.
Age group: this book could be read by a younger group than the Nightblade series--(adult) because it has less violence (although there is still human bodily violence) and less battle blood and gore. So that said, I'd say probably high school age through adult. (But that's a call between adult and child). The younger crowd may also struggle with the style of dialect too. I think Adults will enjoy this the most if they've read the previous Nightblade books of 1-4. I do not know if this author plans for the Academy Journals series to be written so that a younger audience could read it as well as adults; I just don't know. As of right now, it's good for adults, which is what I care about (lol) and I guess we'll see where it goes. If it doesn't veer from the Njghtblade storyline, nor is it geared toward the younger group, I think the author would have been better off to have kept the books subtitled as the Underrealm series and simply place them in sequential order; of course, documenting the timeline at the beginning of this particular book in order to keep the occurrences straight. It certainly would be less confusing. But, until we see how things progress, it's all just wasted speculation. Besides, lol...it's the authors prerogative. ;):)
Book cover: if you sunk in the cheeks on this boy, he would look a lot like the character that's suppose to be Xain on the bundle book for the Nightblade series or his son, which he's not. I'd imagine it's hard to draw faces though. It would be nice if they could make them look a bit more different. I don't think the problem is this cover though, rather it's Xain's depiction on the other cover. But since it is a series, I felt it needed a mention.
Series: next book #2 in the Academy Journal series of the Underrealm series TBR May 31, 2016. And the author States on his blog that he's currently writing the third book in this same series. I hope he gets back to the original series with Loren, the Nighblade and all her friends soon, though. :(
In most cases that I can recall, the pinnacle of the series was somewhere in the middle, and rarely at the end of the series.
Sadly, many authors never seem to recover their story and you end up with a disappointing downhill until the end, if you even finish (I'm looking at you 'Path of Daggers' and 'Feast for Crows').
I have referred to this when talking to others as the plate of spaghetti problem. What seems to happen is that authors hit that sweet spot with their story, but then they are left with a plate of noodles of story lines and they cannot seem to un-cook the noodles to straighten the story out.
Robinson hit his high with Shadeborn, by far the most exciting page-turner in the series, and one I was sad to see end.
Rather than get stuck in the spaghetti mess, Robinson tries something completely different and builds a parallel story with just enough little tidbits of tie-in for the existing fans, but so completely different that it stands on its own.
This book actually caught me off guard as I was expecting a let down, and even though magic clearly exists in this world, it was not very well explained (I'm looking at you, here 'Gardens of the Moon' and 'The Blade Itself') and sadly that often takes some enjoyment out of it for me.
With Alchemist's Touch, however, Robinson has his chance to fully explore and explain his magic system, while simultaneously introducing new characters without diverting from his original story. Just telling it from a slightly different perspective.
In the end, what could very well have been a major gamble for him and his story pays off immensely, keeping the story out of the spaghetti plate mess, and even extending more interest in the series.
While I continue to be eager to see what fate is in store for the initial cast of characters, I actually find myself even more interested in what happens when both casts end up intersecting.
Until that point, I am going to be reading to see what happens and looking forward to that time.
The book is about Ebon, much like Loren; he has a difficult father and is underestimated by others. He dreams of going to the Academy to learn the craft of magic, but things are not what then seem. Ebon starts to undercover that could change his life and those around him in a big way.
If you have read Shadeborn you shall find events that happened in that book are happening in this book and you see how certain events are seen from a different perspective. Also there is a huge surprise at the very end that will make you want to pick up the next book and start reading