THE ALCHEMIST by Donna BoydBallantine, January 2002
At the dawn of history, the House of Ra is already ancient, training students in true science, magic, and every art. Three students stand head and shoulders above the others--Akan, Han, and Nefar--the woman both men love. Together they can work magic more powerful than any known, yet their use of magic is not unlimited and subject to great risk for themselves and those around them. The three agree to use their powers to build a paradise on earth, yet delivering on their promises is more difficult than their power would make it appear.
Author Donna Boyd has created an intriguing fantasy that spans all of recorded history. The three alchemists transform history, yet always reach for more than they can safely achieve. Unfortunately, THE ALCHEMIST is weakened by the narrative device that Boyd has chosen--a retrospective first person narrative that somehow distances the reader from the characters. Although THE ALCHEMIST is a tale of overpowering emotions, great good and evil, sibling rivalry that extends through the centuries, and even contains an intriguing twist at the end, the story-telling is strangely flat.
THE ALCHEMIST is an interesting book, certainly worth the read. It is also instructive for writers to see both how to create a compelling plot and setting, and how this fine concept can be brought up short of full fruition.
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