The stunning and beautifully crafted conclusion to The Alchemists’ Council series
In Book Three of The Alchemists’ Council trilogy, eternal conflicts between the Council and Rebel Branch escalate. Secrets about time-travel manipulation are revealed, uncomfortable truths about alchemical children are discovered, and Council dimension itself begins to disintegrate. Amidst this fallout, the Amber Garden dissolves, conjoined pairs suffer torturous separation, alchemists die in the process, and Cedar is banished to the outside world where she endures a living death within her conjoined partner.
Efforts of both alchemists and rebels to resolve the dissolution of Council and Flaw dimensions prove futile. People of the outside world experience ever-increasing political turmoil and the risk of environmental collapse. Mercifully, the alchemists have woven a thread of hope into an alchemically inscribed book, which they release into the outside world with the purpose of attracting new Initiates to Council. At first, Initiate Virginia appears to be a disrespectful interloper with whom Jaden loathes to work. However, their combined scribal efforts prove astoundingly powerful — so much so that they are sent through time to inscribe critical messages into ancient manuscripts. Events associated with one such manuscript lead Cedar to propose a solution to the dimensional fallout: all remaining alchemists must permanently vacate Council dimension.
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 television studies. She is a co-editor of the academic book Reading Joss Whedon (Syracuse University Press, 2014); her fiction includes The Elijah Tree (Rebel Satori, 2009). She lives in British Columbia.
To begin, I would like to thank Cynthea and ARC for the advance reading copy, I am humbled to have the opportunity to experience it before its official release. It's not always easy to sum up such a complex book in a compelling and rich series. The story moves at a smooth pace, gliding from one event to the next in a way that made it difficult to put down; I certainly had a few late nights sitting in bed, nose in my book and my accompanying cup of tea going cold from neglect. For anyone who has read this far into the trilogy, they will know that Cynthea's books are better appreciated when a bit more concentration is applied to the reading. The story is very detailed, and one can easily tell that there is a great deal of knowledge tucked into every page. That being said, my understanding of medieval alchemy is likely no greater than anyone else's and I thoroughly enjoyed the books without needing any background information. For those more alchemically-inclined, they will love the hidden secrets and references hidden in the text. My personal interests lie more in botany and general plant-nerdiness. Cynthea's creative use of tree names slips in some secrets many might not notice, but when referenced I admit I was a little giddy with the knowledge that I was being let it on little secrets here and there. Despite ending on a bit of a cliffhanger, I felt very satisfied with the way the book came to an end. It wasn't too abrupt, and the story felt complete while still leaving a feeling of anticipation for what will happen next. Thank you again for the advanced reading copy, and for forging a refreshing and unique world with a solid and intriguing story.
What. A. Ride! It's times like this that I'm grateful I didn't come to this series until it was complete (although... is it?). I don't know what I would have done if I had to wait in between books (besides the obvious wait patiently🙄).
In response to reviews that make it sound too complex: I mean, yes, I got a little lost here and there but that only built my anticipation and satiated my desire to be dropped into other complex worlds (that may or may not exist irl...? I find myself pondering this now). Isn't that why we come to books? To read, to escape, to learn, to be entertained? Surely the author would lead me to the answers I seek? Here, Masson did not disappoint 💥. 💥💥.
It pains me to think that a person could pass up this reading opportunity based on thinking it's too much , it's not like you have to attempt to learn Dothraki.
If you like multi-dimensional amusement parks with twists and turns you didn't know were coming and if you like delighting your imagination while enriching - or putting into question - your perspective on free will, the curious fine balance of humanity, and the actual possibility of alchemy..., this is the read you are looking for.
It's an exciting ride! And sure, okay, you should probably be 🕴 this tall to purchase a ticket. It's not like the Alchemist Council wants you to read it anyways... in fact, as the story goes, they forbid it.
First of all, my thanks to the author of this excellent trilogy, Cynthea, for including me in the lucky few who received an ARC - though I feel I didn't deserve it as it took me longer to read the final book than the timeframe between getting the ARC and the actual final book coming out! (I am a slow reader). In any case, thus book provides a satisfying end (?) to the story of the Alchemists' Council and the Rebels, going into detail about past events that effect the present and future of the characters. The intricate winding plot and interactions of the characters is sure to suck you in, especially if you are a fan of medieval alchemy and historical fiction! A must read for those of you who love a good expansive world-building saga.
I was lucky to have received an advanced copy of The Amber Garden, the third and final novel in The Alchemist’s Council trilogy.
It is intricately plotted, taking the reader from events in the distant past of the Council (some of which we have seen before) and giving us more detail about the suspect motivations of the ancient Magen, to the beginning of the fourth rebellion and, finally, moving the plot slightly into the future. Many of the previous characters make appearances: Jaden, Cedar, Genevre, Arjan, Dracaen, and Fraxinus among others. I did have to go back to the earlier novels at times to refresh my memory.
It’s a story of ambition, of betrayals and counter betrayals with many unreliable narrators. There are scenes set in many of the same places as before in the outside (our) world: Qingdao, Santa Fe, Waterloo, even Vancouver Island.
There are passages of great beauty, namely the dissolution of the Amber Garden., and Jaden’s memories as she heals, I won’t say from what.
I loved the sly humour between the conjoined Arjan and Draecan and later between Jaden and Virginia.
It’s about the fight between free will and alchemical control and about the future of our planet. It is also about no matter whether our intentions are good or ill, we cannot predict what will happen years from now. It explores tradition versus rebellion.
One section made me think of locked in syndrome and was truly horrifying.
I won’t give away the ending but it surprised me. The novel is a satisfying ending to all the threads that began with the disappearance of the bees. I strongly recommend it.
This was an interesting "end" to the trilogy that left both questions answered and new ones to contemplate. In books 1 and 2, there is a lot of action between the three dimensions, and the most pressing question is where you choose to align yourself within those dimensions. In this one, survival relies on alignments with people rather than dimensions. This book explores a lot of the past that wasn't fully touched upon in the last two novels. Cynthea jumps between timelines and places without ever losing the heart of the plot. We spend some time reflecting with many of the characters on the past, relationships, and choices they have made. This has been an extremely delightful series to read. The attention to detail and the Easter eggs Cynthea scatters throughout her novels are what I expect from a fantasy series that wants your full attention and wants you to work to make those connections. This series will also provide a high reread value to reflect on what was missed or forgotten. Cynthea has such a vast collection of information on medieval literature and alchemy, and this has been such a delightful way of learning more about it in the most fantastical way. There is no other fantasy series like this, and it has certainly joined the ranks of original fantasy works worth reading.
*I would like to thank ECW for the generous advance reading copy *I would also like to thank Cynthea Masson for making sure I was on the list for receiving the second and third ARC of these books. I value your friendship and your books
I think the biggest/only con is that I found the story as a whole quite convoluted at times. Adding the extra layer of seeing the story through different characters eyes helped to bring it all together, though. (The first few chapters, I wondered why we were hearing the story from the beginning again, just through someone else's viewpoint. Then it all made sense!) But the story overall is very well thought out and there are so many little bits of foreshadowing dropped throughout the 3 books, that tie everything up so nicely at the end.
I still feel like the characters are a little flat, mostly because there are so many of them, but at the same time, I felt myself rooting for certain ones and hoping others didn't make it. Even though they're in a different universe, I still felt they were relatable.
The series itself is so unique, yet familiar. Being from BC myself, I liked that some of the "Outer World" locations were familiar to me! I also enjoyed how she's attributed some of our "Outer World" problems to the discord in the Alchemists Dimension. I did feel that some areas of the book could have used a little more description, so I could feel like I was a part of the story instead of watching it from outside.
Overall, I quite enjoyed this third installment. I very much enjoy this Universe she has created and the uniqueness of the story itself.
In this the third installment of the Alchemists' Council story we learn what followed from the uncertain truce between the Council and the Rebel Branch. As one might expect, they experience numerous unintended consequences even from the most noble of good intentions. Just when you think centuries of distrust and conflict are being finally being resolved one by one threads begin to unravel between the dimensions and timelines. Where will it all lead? I guess we'll have to wait until book 4 to find out!
Do yourself a favor and REREAD books one and two before diving into this one!
The first third brings us from the distant past up to the present from Ravenea's point of view. I spent most of this section trying very hard to remember what had happened in the first two books to place her actions I'm context. If I had read them more recently I would have enjoyed this section more. By the second half things were making more sense and I was able to enjoy the action and the alchemy. Looking forward to seeing how everything turns out in book 4!
I am trying to expand my horizons and try out new genres - this one is completely new to me and a bit outside of my comfort zone - it doesn't help that this is part 3, and the conclusion, of a series. I struggled at the beginning, and I still don't completely understand what is going on - the characters' names and genders are a complete mystery to me, as is the way the jump through time and places. But, in saying that, I am enjoying the author's phrasing and words she uses - I was tempted at various times to highlight certain words that appealed to me (except it has been drilled into me never to write in a book). I am in fact enjoying it. thanks to ECW for a free copy to read!
Thank you to ECW Press for sending me an ARC of this book. The Alchemists Council Book 3, The Amber Garden..... These books our about medieval alchemy and time travel manipulation. Before reading book 3 . You should read books 1 and 2 because it made it difficult for me to read as a single book, simply because it is a complicated subject matter. Nicely produced book with good size print and an attractive cover. These3 books took her 6 yrs to write altogether...
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Although I really enjoyed the series and this book, this was my least favourite of the three books. I felt like it was both rushed at times and straggled at times. I also found that the time travel (which was talked about forever in the second book as being one of the most difficult things ever) just seemed to be possible all the time all of a sudden. Finally, trying to keep the timelines and relationships straight became somewhat disjointed. I think it was good but seemed to fall apart.
Loved the third book in this trilogy. As it had been some time since reading the last book, it took a little bit of time to remember who everyone was but soon got into it. It's a really well-written book with many intricate story lines that all come together. Well worth the read but you should read the first two books first.
As a whole, the series is between a 4-4.5 for me. Unfortunately, the epilogue left a really bad taste in my mouth on this one. I'm still giving it a 4 because overall it was pretty good... But it is hard to do so.
My suggestion for readers... If you like how the end wraps up, don't read the epilogue.
Even if I liked the storytelling and the world building I was overwhelmed by the high number of characters and found hard to connect to the story. Not my cup of tea. Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.