The Hermetica Of Elysium

The Hermetica of Elysium - Annmarie Banks What I liked:- The subject matter - it is about a hermetical book for heavens’ sake!!! A very old book from Egypt, written in several languages, most probably an ancient text, coveted by many alchemists! How not to adore such a premise? It reminded me of The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco, one of my all time favourites! In fact I suppose the idea of an edible book was taken straight from that novel! Still I didn’t mind – not at all!- The narration was quick-paced and as lively as I like. The book managed to keep me interested till the very end.- Plenty of knights in their prime, one pretty girl and no insta-love! No insta-lust either! A love triangle? Absent again! Well done and, as you see, it can be done!- A kick-ass heroine who is not only of Arab descent but also, despite being a slave, doesn’t want to follow her mother’s fate and remain despondent all her life; she takes difficult decisions but never ones which would be too stupid for her to live. By the way usually in such books it is a Saracen master and a Christian slave; here we have an Arab girl, a Jewish master and a Scotsman…not bad!What I didn’t like:- In short small inconsistencies. They can ruin even the best premise for me. For example the main heroine, Nadira, once states that she wants to return home to Morocco and several pages later she says ‘to Marrakech’. I am not sure whether they were known by their contemporary names in the 15th century. Oh well, you know me…incurably anal…- It is not a flaw but it bugged me: Richard Longmoor was a kind of prominent scholar while his younger brother, Robert, couldn’t read an write at all…correct me if I am mistaken but if you were a Scottish laird who decided to spend some hard-earned coin on exclusive education, hiring a private tutor in the shape of a monk, you would make sure both of your precious sons got at least some basic schooling… I would understand if Robert knew ‘only’ Latin or ‘only’ Old French/Norman but the fact that he could barely sign his own name and couldn't read in any language left me perplexed…what did young Master Robin do when Richard had his lessons? Chased skirts? Shot crows? How come his father didn’t intervene?- I would wish for some three-dimensional baddies...Final verdict:Despite some quibbles I did enjoy this book and I would love to read the second part of this series. Alchemy gives me always a powerful tug and this book was based on some alchemical could I resist it?