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

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Overview

For Nostradamus, the future is forever in motion. But for his young apprentice, Alfeo Zeno, the present is a bore-until a friend of the prince dies after Nostradamus casts him an ominous horoscope.

Some say the mystic poisoned the victim to enhance his own reputation-and Nostradamus charges Alfeo with clearing his name. Now Alfeo must unravel a web of magic and murder if he is to have a future of his own.

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

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Overview

For Nostradamus, the future is forever in motion. But for his young apprentice, Alfeo Zeno, the present is a bore-until a friend of the prince dies after Nostradamus casts him an ominous horoscope.

Some say the mystic poisoned the victim to enhance his own reputation-and Nostradamus charges Alfeo with clearing his name. Now Alfeo must unravel a web of magic and murder if he is to have a future of his own.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Blending elements of historical fiction, alternate reality, and amateur-sleuth mystery, Dave Duncan's latest fantasy revolves around an obscure historical figure, Filippo Nostradamus -- the alleged nephew of legendary prognosticator Michel de Nostredame (The Prophecies, The Almanacs, et al.). In the decadent Renaissance-era city of Venice, the ornery old Nostradamus is implicated in a murder after an elderly procurator is poisoned during a private party Nostradamus attended. As he recently predicted the victim's demise, rumors abound about Nostradamus' involvement -- perhaps the renowned alchemist and clairvoyant killed the nobleman to heighten his own reputation. With the help of his trusted apprentice Alfeo Zeno, Nostradamus must somehow prove his innocence before the all-powerful Council of Ten bring him in for questioning -- an inquisition that will undoubtedly include torture and certain death…

Fans of Duncan's previous fantasy works (The Jaguar Knights, Impossible Odds, et al.) should thoroughly enjoy this historical whodunit, the first installment of a projected series featuring Nostradamus and Zeno. Although categorized as a fantasy, The Alchemist's Apprentice is more properly a conventional historical mystery with minor fantastical elements. Nostradamus and Zeno are reminiscent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson -- except that the Venetian duo utilize prophecies, astrological horoscopes, Tarot card readings, and the occasional demon summoning, as well as Holmesian deduction, to solve complicated cases. Paul Goat Allen
Publishers Weekly
Duncan (Children of Chaos) mingles arch fantasy and a whodunit plot in this alternate vision of old Venice, the launch of a new series featuring alchemist and astrologer Maestro Nostradamus and his nobly born apprentice, Alfeo Zeno, who narrates with panache. Nostradamus foresees the murder of Procurator Bertucci Orseolo, who's poisoned right beneath his nose during a dinner party. When suspicion falls on Nostradamus, Alfeo must solve the mystery-with a bit of help from his adored chameleon-like courtesan, Violetta-to prove his master's innocence. Nostradamus and Alfeo's adventures provide more amusement than chills in this charming farce, which comments lightly on class prejudice, political chicanery and occult tomfoolery. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Young swordsman Alfeo Zeno spends his time serving as both protector of and apprentice to Maestro Nostradamus, the famed alchemist, seer, and physician. When his master runs afoul of Venice's ruling Council of Ten, however, Zeno's task becomes more complicated—to clear Nostradamus's name of the charge of murder. Duncan's (Paragon Lost) latest novel launches a new series set in an alternate Venice and filled with the author's customary touches of humor, light satire, and fast-paced action. The author of the "King's Blade" series shows his mastery of both storytelling and character building in a tale that belongs in most libraries.


—Jackie Cassada
Kirkus Reviews
Murder mystery, apparently the first of a series, set in an alternate-world Renaissance Venice, from the excellent Duncan (Children of Chaos, 2006, etc.). In this world, magic works and demons are real-though not, of course, discussed in polite society; astrologer-physician Maestro Filippo Nostradamus uses his clairvoyance to derive riddles describing complex problems and hinting at their solution. His apprentice, the noble Alfeo Zeno, connoisseur of art and manuscripts, is dismayed to be summoned by the doge, Pietro Moro. At a private party, it seems, nobles-including, secretly, the doge himself, and also the Maestro-gathered to examine and possibly bid on a collection of ancient manuscripts. The noble Bertucci Orseolo died after attending. It's possible he was murdered, and the doge requires Alfeo and his master to investigate-very confidentially. The Maestro knows that Orseolo was poisoned with digitalis. But who would want Orseolo dead, and why? Was the doge the intended victim, conceivably targeted by Turkish assassins? Since the Maestro can barely walk, Alfeo must do most of the sleuthing; meanwhile, he will enjoy the attentions of his lover, the celebrated courtesan Violetta of the ferocious intellect and multiple personalities, avoid scrutiny by the official police, who tend to torture first and ask questions later, and endure a demon-inspired temptation to steal a priceless copy of a lost play by Euripides. Not as outrageously original as some of this author's best, but brimming with wit and low-key charms; neither aficionados nor newcomers will be disappointed.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780441015757
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/26/2008
  • Series: Venice Trilogy Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 4.28 (w) x 6.84 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Dave Duncan has lived all his adult life in Western Canada, having 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.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 9 of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 2, 2008

    Enjoyable Read

    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.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    lighthearted historical occult mystery

    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

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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