The Alchemist's Apprentice (Venice Trilogy Series #1)

The Alchemist's Apprentice (Venice Trilogy Series #1)

by Dave Duncan

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Overview

To the legendary clairvoyant Maestro Nostradamus, the future is forever in motion. But for young swordsman Alfeo Zeno, his apprentice and protector, the present is hard enough to contend with. His days are spent poring over astrology charts and making calculations, his nights learning arcane magic or transcribing Nostradamus’s nebulous prophecies. Until one night, when the Council of Ten arrives to take the seer into custody.

It seems that high-ranking friend of the prince died under mysterious circumstances after Nostradamus cast his horoscope, warning of danger-and rumors are swirling that the mystic poisoned the victim to enhance his own reputation. Alfeo is stunned when his master refuses to flee. Instead, Nostradamus charges Alfeo with the task of clearing his name. Now, Alfeo must unravel a web of magic and murder if he is to have any future of his own.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781101208700
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 02/26/2008
Series: Venice Trilogy Series , #1
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 486,423
File size: 345 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Originally from Scotland, Dave Duncan has lived all his adult life in western Canada. He enjoyed a long career as a petroleum geologist before taking up writing. Since discovering that imaginary worlds are more satisfying than the real one, he has published more than 30 novels, mostly in the fantasy genre, but also in young adult, science fiction, and historical. Dave now lives in Victoria, British Columbia.

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Alchemist's Apprentice (Venice Trilogy Series #1) 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You'll like this one if you are into 'who done it' with a few twists and turns. I thought it a fun read. You also get a tour of Venice way back when and probably hasn't changed all that much from today...This book is worth the time you spend reading it.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In Venice while the torrential down pours rivals that of Noah¿s, clairvoyant alchemist and astrologer Maestro Nostradamus sends his noble apprentice Alfeo Zeno out in the rain to pick up immediately needed items. By the time the soaked to the bone marrow Alfeo returns to Ca¿ Barbolano he finds darkness awaits him. He knows that means Nostradamus must have foretold something, which he finds in the poor scribble of the clairvoyant. Alfeo scribes the rarely quite lucid quatrain. Nostradamus has predicted the poisonous homicide of Procurator Bertucci Orseolo, who dies at a dinner party. Republic official Raffaino Sciara, Chief Secretary to the Council of Ten, insists that in order for his prophesy to come true, Nostradamus killed the Procurator. Alfeo thinks the officious model for the Grim Reaper, Sciara, is using the seer to further his ambition. Refusing to flee the city, Nostradamus assigns his apprentice to uncover the truth. Alfeo, accompanied by his courtesan Violetta, investigates the murder of Orseolo. --- THE ALCHEMIST¿S APPRENTICE is a fun lighthearted historical occult mystery that brings to life the latter half of sixteenth century Venice through mostly the pseudo scientist practitioners and the political leaders of the era. Interestingly in spite of Nostradamus¿ presence, Alfeo is the ascending star as the whodunit supersedes the fantasy and social-governmental elements. Fans will enjoy Dave Duncan¿s fine amateur sleuth fantasy tale. --- Harriet Klausner
DWWilkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I find I have a great many books in my library by Dave Duncan. The title was the first thing that caught my eye, and the cover followed. Finally I saw that it was by Duncan. I must have just glanced at the marketing blurb for it was only after I started reading did I realize that we had a Renaissance who-dun-it.Our hero is the apprentice of Nostradamus who is not nearly as fascinating as the Serene Republic where our story takes place. My library has only a small handful of books with Venice as a background, but all are charming in their way for the city is rich in cultural material seemingly at all periods of its existence. The mystery is solid and has its share of red-herrings and coincidence. But as I mentioned it is far more interesting to follow all the layers that is Venice and this is just but the beginning to that.This may be a story that gets read only once, for it is not full of depth for a series, though more books are being released. Where Duncan takes us with the likable hero will be important. It is definitely work reading if you like the Renaissance and should like to know more about Venice.
Runte on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A Review of Dave Duncan¿s The Alchemist¿s Apprenticeby Robert Runté (2007 Release)Tempted though I was to start this review by anointing The Alchemist¿s Apprentice my favorite fantasy novel yet, I don¿t think I can actually do that. For one thing, there are about 35 other Duncan fantasy novels with claim to that title. Duncan keeps getting better and better, yet I still have a soft spot for many of his classic fantasies, so it is difficult to definitively argue that The Alchemist¿s Apprentice is his best fantasy novel ever. For another, I¿m not convinced this is a fantasy novel, though it is clearly being marketed as such and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by Duncan¿s regular fantasy readership. But swashbuckling action aside, this is really an historical mystery, a who-done-it set in the Medici¿s Venice. True, there is one brief scene in which our hero consults a demon, but even here the description of the necromancy is entirely consistent with contemporary Renaissance accounts (such as that in Benvenuto Cellini¿s autobiography) so feels more like `historical depiction¿ than `fantasy¿. And then there is the whole Nostradamus angle. Frankly, if this had been by anyone else, I don¿t think I could have gotten past the backcover blurb. A novel about Nostradamus working to solve a murder in which he himself is implicated? New Age nonsense meets National Inquiry headlines? But fortunately, Duncan¿s wry humour prevails and the book isn¿t really about that Nostradamus ¿ not Michel Nostradamus -- but his great nephew Felipe. Duncan is thus free to characterize Nostradamus as a cranky, manipulative old fraud without having to worry about offending against true believers or historical accuracy. And it is kind of fun to speculate how Nostradamus would have fared as a detective navigating through the convoluted political and commercial conspiracies of Medici Venice.The story unfolds, however, as a first person narrative by Nostradamus¿ dashing apprentice, Alfeo Zeno. Zeno is no mere chronicler of his Maestro¿s genius, but a fast-talking, quick-witted, lovable young rogue in his own right. Zeno deftly avoids the machinations of various spies, commercial agents, and the Medici¿s police, while advancing his own affair with the most desirable courtesan in the city. In the best who-done-it tradition, everyone is a suspect, and Zeno has to weave his way through contradictory evidence, red herrings, and sudden insights to collect the evidence his Maestro has asked for, never quite knowing what the Maestro is after. I confess that Duncan also kept me guessing until the last, and kept me frantically turning pages long after I should have been abed. (I strongly advise setting the book aside until one has sufficient time to read it in one go, because once begun, it is impossible to put down.)Filled with Machiavellian plotting, heart-stopping action, and convincing historical detail that makes Medici¿s Venice come alive, Alchemist¿s Apprentice is Duncan at his rollicking best.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, it's not an era or a situation I much enjoy - and I _hate_ smartass know-it-all detectives. Yet I read it and enjoyed it pretty well. Duncan is a good author. I'm glad I read it - this one was more interesting than the sequel - but I doubt I'll seek out any more. Venetian politics, apparently (reasonably) accurately portrayed, of the late 1600s, are way too twisty for me. And in this book, all the magic _could_ have been false - the protagonists didn't think so, but they could have been deluding themselves. Interesting, but not absorbing for me. If you're interested in that era, grab these, you'll love them! Very solid, real characters with good motivations and reasons (sometimes stupid ones, just like the real world) for their actions. The mystery is mildly interesting, and I was totally whipsawed - believed each of the explanations offered until the next one came along...did I mention I hate smartaleck detectives?
MarkCWallace on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The apprentice is a conniving and trickster whose loyalty and basic decency makes him an engaging and sympathetic character. Even the minor characters are well motivated and sympathetic. Venice is a wonderful setting, - a mixture of the familiar and the bizarre and Duncan paints it better than most. Sometimes the story veers into the supernatural without a strong reason, but that can be forgiven.; the supernatural adversaries are cunning and never to be underestimated.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Great setting.Decent mystery.Decent characters.
nasagirl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Written from the viewpoint of Nostrodamus' apprentice, this story is rich with historical details of Venice and its culture during the time period. Several original characters who might warrant their own stories. Political intrigue, alchemy, sorcery are all here. Nice job!
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