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The Alchemists' Council

(The Alchemists' Council #1)

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  251 ratings  ·  70 reviews
The first in a phenomenal new fantasy trilogy, where the power of words can change the fate of all dimensions

As a new Initiate with the Alchemists’ Council, Jaden is trained to maintain the elemental balance of the world, while fending off interference by the malevolent Rebel Branch. Bees are disappearing from the pages of the ancient manuscripts in Council dimension a
Paperback, 448 pages
Published May 10th 2016 by ECW Press
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Average rating 3.52  · 
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May 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-faves, fantasy
What to say? The Alchemists' Council is unlike any book I've ever read. It's strange and complicated and incredibly odd, but lovely.

First, to describe the premise a bit more in detail: Imagine that all life and existence stems from a powerful stone thing called the Lapis. In another dimension, the Alchemists' Council interprets this Lapis and thus affects the real world via the manuscripts they create. Those manuscripts and the words on them (written in ink created from the Lapis) can control th
Jessica Cavalli
May 23, 2016 rated it really liked it

MAGIC SYSTEM: I picked up this book on the intrigue of a potentially unique alchemical system; it satisfied, if not surpassed my expectations. Some books make empty promises of vivid a magic system, but this was not the case in The Alchemists' Council. The magic system that was the council was rich and complex with myriad rituals, traditions and world building. There was a fluidity between the different aspects that allowed the alchemical system to make sense. I liked how the
Sandy Morrison
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to get an advance copy of this book and very much enjoyed it. Cynthea Masson has created a wonderful fantasy world. The book is intelligent, well written and the story raises some interesting ethical arguements about free will. She has created a community of characters that engaged me and made me care about what was going to happen next...and kept me guessing as to who was on what side. I look forward to finding out what happens in the next installment. I am hooked. Well worth the re ...more
Mar 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I received an advance reading copy of this book.

What Masson has done here is extraordinary. She has created a fully-realized world (technically, three dimensions, but who's to quibble?) and then peopled it with characters who have hidden motives, ambitions, and agendas - wheels within wheels, so to speak.

The book takes its time in building a complex world and the result is one that reflects Masson's own training as a academic. Words and manuscripts are of paramount importance in this novel which
Annette Woolf
Jan 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was able to receive an advanced reading copy of this book and absolutely loved it! I did find the first couple of chapters to be somewhat slow going (for me), but am so glad I hung in there. The story quickly turned into a can't-put-it-down reading frenzy and more than redeemed itself of my initial perception. I loved following Jaden through her trials and discoveries, and I loved discovering her world through her eyes. The magic and the mystery that continues throughout the book are completel ...more
Ravenna McColgan
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is expert story telling, hands down. I was so thoroughly entertained by every aspect, and I never met a character that didn't engage me or seemed out of place. I am in awe of how well the complexities of the stories were so seamlessly woven in to the story. If you enjoy being pulled into adventures that play with time, dimension, and meaning via delightful, intriguing characters and rich imagery, this - I cannot stress enough - is your book.
Bryce Raffle
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Alchemists' Council, by Cynthea Masson

Let me begin by saying that The Alchemists' Council is the bee's knees (more on why that's a pun later). I'll be honest; I was asked to read and review The Alchemists' Council, by my aunt, who is a friend and former colleague of the author. I do not know the author personally, but I was provided with an Advance Reading Copy. That said, I intend to review this book as honestly as possible.

The Alchemists' Council is an imaginative, intelligent fantasy nove
Alysa H.
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was ok
I received an ARC of this book from the publisher at the request of the author, due to personal acquaintance. This does not impact my opinion of the book.

This is a book with Big Ideas and some pretty smart details that I really appreciated, but overall I found the writing style quite dry and wordy, and not to my taste. It took me a long time to finish, and I feel a bit like I've just read 400+ pages of exposition.

There are a lot of characters, including multiple POV characters -- not only Jaden
Mark Bloomer
Jun 12, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Fair warning, I read this book because I got the second book in the series (The Flaw in the Stone) for free for a fair and unbiased review. Also, I am very stingy with my stars for rating. I believe there should be very few 5 star books in your life.
I found the whole workings of the Alchemist's Council to be very hard to follow. But maybe that was on purpose, as their workings are supposed to be very complex. But it did lead to a state of confusion for me while I read the book. Having said that,
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I'm a bit biased as Cynthea was one of my professors at VIU. Nevertheless, I must give credit where it's due, and Cynthea has definitely written one of the most original fantasy works I've read in awhile.
The world and magic is really well done, and the use of alchemy is refreshing rather than overused. It took me a few chapters to understand the hierarchy within the council, and there were many characters to learn quite quickly, but Cynthea made each of them memorable.
Cynthea will be giving a p
Tracy Urq
Dec 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, canadiana
This is an elegant novel. I don't usually read Fantasy, but was fortunate enough to be sent an advance reader copy. This was a treat - poetic and rich, without being heavy handed. The language and imagery are colourful, compelling and unique. The story is dense and full of magic - it follows Jaden, an initiate into an other-worldly council of alchemists, a place full of secrets and hidden allegiances. What happens in that dimension influences our world. A story of ancient manuscripts, wise scrib ...more
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An intelligent and intriguing fantasy/mystery. The ideas in this book haunted me; my mind kept returning to them when I wasn’t reading, turning them over and looking at them from different angles, and wondering where the author would take them. And the writing is simply exquisite!
S.H. Marr
What did I just read?
Lindsay Church
Sep 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
For full disclosure, I am a former student of Masson, and I have chosen to look at this series as part of (the main focus, really) my MA and PhD research.

That said, this is a wonderful, intelligent, and all-around-lovely novel. It was also a lot of fun to read. There is a ton of well done diversity (and bees!). There is academia (isn't academia in novels always more fun when it's fantasy, too??).

It's not a simple world, Masson's world building and plot is complicated and requires close attentio
Dec 19, 2021 rated it liked it
I enjoyed this, but its clearly a cerebral fantasy novel. Canadian author though, didn't see that coming. Listening to the book I was both intrigued and bored. I still look forward to the other 2 books in the series (all 3 books are free with an audible subscription) ...more
Aug 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I knew when I reached the end of this book I’d be sad… sad that I would have to wait for the next installment!

The book totally pulled me into a world that I’m unaccustomed to. The Alchemists’ Council is my first novel dealing with alchemy. Personal life factoid : I studied bio-chemistry in university. So the whole alchemy part turned my reality upside down. This is not your “turn lead into gold” type book, far from it. It is not all about alchemy, just as it is rich with magical and fantastic th
Cheryl Morrison
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a book and realized a few chapters in that you can guess the ending? This is not that book. The Alchemists' Council not only introduces you to an entire new 'world' to enjoy but keeps you guessing each chapter along the way.
The first few chapters were very heavy and dense with new information as the author introduces you to the history and structure of the dimension in which the story takes place. But it is definitely worth it. I compared it to being dropped in country where
Tamy Burnett
Dec 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book—and am I glad I did! This is a captivating story where questions of free will and destiny play out against the backdrop of a fully-imagined, lyrically-described fantasy world. We follow Jaden, new initiate to the Alchemists’ Council, as she learns about political intrigue and contemplates rebellion against the ostensibly good works of the established order.

This is far more than the age-old tale of rebellion versus status quo, though. Legends of a
Aug 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in two days, I just could not put it down! The book is beautifully written and Jaden as the main character is someone I could really associate with. A strong female character, yet, not one who is stereotypically a hardcore fighter (which I hate!) Jaden felt real.

I really liked the slow development of feelings towards Arjan, however sometimes I felt as if he was more of a blank wall and would have liked to see more of an emotional response (however, there was beautiful moment whe
Dec 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I got an Advance readers copy.

Wow! It's been a while since I read such a good book. I cant wait for the next book to come out. I loved this book which came to me as a surprise because it was a bit slow paced in the beginning. I am glad I stuck with it because the story was new and different.
The story centers around the main character Jaden however, not all focus is on her you do get the perspective from other characters in the story which made it much more interesting.
Jaden is a new initiate i
Rod Masson
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this book and am eagerly awaiting the sequel! Masson has crafted an eloquently vivid and memorable world. One that is beautifully detailed and filled with fascinating and complex characters. A fresh, original fantasy that intertwines mysteries from our current reality such as disappearing bees with tantalizing affect.

The first few chapters lay down the neccesarily detailed history and begin building this incredible world in the reader's mind. With the ground work laid, the re
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The smell of libraries and old manuscripts permeates this novel. I enjoyed this intriguing fantasy, the first in a trilogy. The complexities of the Alchemists’ Council are challenging at first, but as you move through the novel, the reasons for that complexity become clear. Jaden is an appealing protagonist. The scene in Quindao really hooked me, and the twists and turns made for a fascinating ending. I really did not see all of them coming.

As a serious examination of the role of free will, it r
Jason Henry
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I grabbed this book almost at random from the store because I liked what the title seemed to imply (politics and a richly developed magic system) and I was not disappointed! I was so impressed with the author's mix of existing alchemical lore and her own creations to craft the world of Council Dimension, and she portrayed everything so convincingly that I was shocked not to find a Wikipedia page for "Novillian Scribe" or "Azoth Magen" I also loved how the cosmology of the book magnified the effe ...more
Nelson Gray
Aug 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I began to read The Alchemist’s Council slowly, one brimming chapter at a time, taking delight in the marvelous and complex world that the author brings to life and enjoying the subtle intrigues of the characters’ relationships and dilemmas. Just past the mid-point, though, as the deepening mysteries of the novel began to unfold, I started turning pages more quickly until I was racing to the conclusion. I agree with the reviewer who described the writing as exquisite, and there is some clever ge ...more
Anita Young
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I loved this story! It was so skilfully written, the words just melted into my imagination. As a few other reviewers have commented, I also found the writing to be dense but that was part of the delight of the book. Masson created a rich and sumptuous world, one that naturally transmuted into a visual world my mind's eye. I can't wait for the sequels! ...more
Chelsea Carne
Nov 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Alchemists' Council is a superbly-crafted universe with rich characters, well-developed themes and crisp storytelling. This is a story about magic, science, loyalty, sensuality, philosophy, logic, reason, ethics, morals....I could go on and on. This story is well-written, intriguing, and incredibly detailed, with a level of imagination I've rarely seen elsewhere in fantasy lit. Well done! ...more
Thomas Parker
Jun 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Finished in a little over a month. This is a definite page-turner that blends mystery and fantasy. the first 20 pages were a bit hard to get into but after that- full speed ahead. It leaves it open for a sequel, as the cover suggests it's the first in a trilogy, but if she never wrote another it is still good enough to stand on it's own. ...more
Sheila Davidson
Dec 07, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was lucky to get an Advance Reader Copy of this book - I absolutely loved it and couldn't put it down once I started! The characters were engaging and kept your interest all the way through to the end - and beyond! Can't wait for the next installment. ...more
John Majerle
Sep 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Its hard to find a book in the fantasy genre that isn't just a rework of someone else's book. This one is different. And what has been happening to all the bees lately...? ...more
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Written by an someone with an English/Alchemy background was certainly evident throughout this book. Some of the writing and overall attention to detail made me think of the All Souls Trilogy. (If you're a fan of that series, I'd give this one a go, as well!)

The biggest downside I found was that it was a little difficult to read at times, as there were so many terms and concepts to remember. The author must have anticipated that, as there was an entire section at the beginning of the book that d
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Cynthea Masson is a professor in the English department at Vancouver Island University. After completing a Ph.D. in English with a focus on medieval mysticism, she undertook a postdoctoral fellowship involving work with medieval alchemical manuscripts at the British Library. In addition to articles on mysticism and alchemy, many of her publications over the past decade have been in the area of tel ...more

Other books in the series

The Alchemists' Council (3 books)
  • The Flaw in the Stone (The Alchemists' Council #2)
  • The Amber Garden (The Alchemists' Council #3)

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