Book Review : The Alchemists of Loom

Book Review : The Alchemists of LoomThe Alchemists of Loom by Elise Kova
Published by Keymaster Press on January 10th 2017
Pages: 395
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five-stars

Her vengeance. His vision.

Ari lost everything she once loved when the Five Guilds’ resistance fell to the Dragon King. Now, she uses her unparalleled gift for clockwork machinery in tandem with notoriously unscrupulous morals to contribute to a thriving underground organ market. There isn’t a place on Loom that is secure from the engineer turned thief, and her magical talents are sold to the highest bidder as long as the job defies their Dragon oppressors.

Cvareh would do anything to see his sister usurp the Dragon King and sit on the throne. His family’s house has endured the shame of being the lowest rung in the Dragons’ society for far too long. The Alchemist Guild, down on Loom, may just hold the key to putting his kin in power, if Cvareh can get to them before the Dragon King’s assassins.

When Ari stumbles upon a wounded Cvareh, she sees an opportunity to slaughter an enemy and make a profit off his corpse. But the Dragon sees an opportunity to navigate Loom with the best person to get him where he wants to go.

He offers her the one thing Ari can’t refuse: A wish of her greatest desire, if she brings him to the Alchemists of Loom.

I adored The Alchemists of Loom so much that I read it twice within a month. I love the original ideas, the world-building, the characters, the slow-burn romance–everything. I simply cannot rave about this steampunk fantasy novel enough and I am itching to pick up the next novel in the trilogy.

In the Alchemists of Loom, there are two races–the Fenthri and the Dragons. The Fenthri dwell below the realms of the dragons, Nova, and are gray-skinned, smaller, and weaker than their dragon counterparts. The dragons aren’t the typical dinosaurs with wings either, but are humanoid creatures with colorful skin, powerful strength, and the ability to regrow almost anything if their head and hearts are left intact. At first, I was really disconcerted about this, but I quickly learned that these humanoid dragons are just as powerful as their typical counterparts–each has deadly claws, strength two times that of the Fenthri, and magical powers that reside in their organs.

Weidling the magic that the Fenthri created through the combined effort of their Guilds, the dragons quickly descend on their new gliders to the world of Loom, took over and began governing it, killing any Fenthri that did not follow their new laws. They separate the Guilds–Rivets, Revolvers, Alchemists, Harvesters, and Ravens–into completely separate branches, making those born into their Guild, stay there regardless of preference and skill, and killing those that do not pass merit or try to escape their designated classification.

She knew Arianna had real memories of the time before the Dragons, when the Five Guilds were free and the world was run by the Vicar tribunal; when Fenthri didn’t have to be marked–when they were free to study and learn as they wanted. There was a terrifying lust for that time in Ari’s heart.”

Main character Arianna, known as the White Wraith, strives to fight against these dragons in any way possible. One of the few who remembers life before the dragons took over–and stubbornly, as well as illegally, unmarked as belonging to any guild–she takes part in the illegal trade of dragon organs, which allow Fenthri to become Chimera. Being a chimera herself, Arianna is able to wield her own magical powers–using magically enhanced daggers and a winch box to easily defeat her foes. When she stumbles upon an injured dragon, Cverah, the last person who expects her to help him is her. But with the offered promise of a boon, she agrees to help him reach the Alchemist Guild, the home of the last ill-fated resistance against the dragons.

It really didn’t matter to Ari what she had to do for the boon. A wish. There were so many things she could wish for. So many old wrongs she could right with the unquestioned help of a Dragon and his magic. It could be a chance for redemption–for vengeance. Or, at the very least, she could always wish for him to cut out his own heart and give it to her. Then she’d get the satisfaction of watching him do it.”

From the very beginning of the novel, the book is action-packed. But that doesn’t mean the author doesn’t spend plenty of time developing the world of Loom and the characters who reside in it. I love bitter, sarcastic, and powerful Arianna, who has a softness toward her young ex-Raven turned Revolver student, Florence, and a hatred for anything dragon.  It’s always interesting to me when a fantasy novel handels racism, albeit fictional, so adeptly. What’s more, I loved how the book expertly handled her growing, extremely reluctant admiration for Cverah. And I love how Cverah turns from his own prejudice against Fenthri– finding Arianna hideous and dirty as both a Fenthri and Chimera–to gradually see her as beautiful, interesting, and capable.

But he wanted to know about her. What had made Arianna into the woman she was.”

I love all the characters in the novel so much, that for once, I didn’t even mind the switching of Point-of-Views between characters, even when it was the villainous captain of the Dragon Riders, Leona. This switching of perspectives was incredibly well-done, allowing each character to come to life. I especially loved reading Florence’s perspective on the relationship of Arianna and Cverah. Watching their mutual respect grow from an outside perspective, while they too were experiencing it in theirs was quite thrilling and layered:

It had been slow coming, but in the weeks they’d spent together, Arianna and the Dragon seemed to have found a kind of mutual peace. After the floating prison and the Underground, that peace had blossomed into appreciation. Florence had watched it grow all along, two people determined to hate each other realizing just how much they could complement each other.”

The setting for the characters are similarly brilliant. The author spends just enough time building her steampunk world–explaining the magic, the time before the dragons, the guilds and their skills, the technology, the resistance, the black market, the Underground, the floating prisons, the different territories, and even the world of Nova. But she also leaves just enough of a mystery to make reading the next in the series a must.

Honestly, I cannot recommend The Alchemists of Loom enough. It has everything–action, romance, superb character development and world building, magic, and foreshadowing. I cannot wait to read the next book in the series.

five-stars
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Book Review : The Alchemists of Loom - Blogging with Dragons

Posted January 11, 2019 in Book Reviews, Fantasy, Favorite Books

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