The Alchemist War

The Alchemist War

by John Seven
     
 

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Dawk and Hype find themselves in the middle of an alchemist mystery in 1600s Prague.

Overview

Dawk and Hype find themselves in the middle of an alchemist mystery in 1600s Prague.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
10/01/2013
Gr 4–8—One of the advantages of having parents who are temporal researchers for the Cosmos Institute in the 25th century is the chance to join them during field research. One of the disadvantages is having to explain nearly derailing Hannibal's march across the Alps due to a mouse, a herd of elephants, and a squeamish Carthaginian soldier. On probation after the rodent mishap, teenagers Dawk and Hype are sent with their parents to Prague in 1648 to research the footwear of Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III. They meet Richthausen, an alchemist who seems able to actually transform metal into gold. The siblings, along with their OpBot Fizzbin, suspect that he has come across technology from far in the future. Posing as the man's new apprentices, the teens find themselves embroiled in a dangerous mystery. The novel is light on character development but full of action and intriguing concepts and possibilities. The requisite technology of the 25th century is quickly explained in the early chapters, including the NeuroNet, which allows everyone access to all the world's compiled knowledge, and the Link, its social component. The short chapters may appeal to reluctant readers. This sci-fi foray is sure to be embraced by kids who once relished the time-traveling adventures in Mary Pope Osborne's "Magic Tree House" series (Random) or Jon Scieszka's "Time Warp Trio" (Penguin) and those who enjoy the "Infinity Ring" (Scholastic) series.—Amanda Raklovits, Champaign Public Library, IL
Publishers Weekly
Author Seven (A Rule Is to Break: A Child’s Guide to Anarchy) opens the Time-Tripping Faradays series with a fast-paced and entertaining novel that leaps from the Roman Empire to the 25th century before settling into 17th-century Prague. The action centers on siblings Dawk and Hype Faraday, who time-travel with their parents to research information that has fallen between the cracks of recorded history. In the Faradays’ future, citizens can access the world’s body of knowledge via neural implants, as well as communicate instantaneously via the Link that connects their minds. (And, yes, even in the future, the comments one tends to get via this brain-based social network can be inane: “Go get beheaded!” “Try on some wigs,” suggest Dawk’s “Link friends” after he arrives in 1648 Prague.) Although Seven’s explanations of 25th-century technology slow down the novel’s early chapters, readers should be drawn into the siblings’ comical misadventures as they investigate whether an alchemist is trying to pull a fast one over on the Holy Roman Emperor. A second book, The Dragon of Rome, follows in October. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 10–14. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Amy S. Hansen
Teenagers Dawk and Hype Faraday really get around. They move from the Alps to home and then back out to Prague, and more importantly, they change times. Part of the new series, "The Alchemist War," this first book sets up the time-travelling project. Dawk and Hype are the children of temporal researchers. Their parents' job is to help document every little piece of history, and the teens are along for the ride. When they're sent to Prague everything is supposed to be boring, because, well, because Dawk misbehaved on the last adventure and the management decided to ask the family to research footwear as a punishment. Of course it does not stay boring. If readers can stay with the book past the first three chapters, they're in for a fun ride. In this early bit, there's a bit of logjam of explanation—how time travel works, how the neural network functions, how the parents relate to their kids, etc. However, once all the explanation is over, the pace picks up. And as Dawk and Hype explore alchemy—the process of turning any metal into gold—readers may stay up late to finish. Reviewer: Amy S. Hansen
Kirkus Reviews
Two free-range 25th-century children get into and out of pickles while tagging along with their research-scientist parents to various past eras. In this series opener, a prank involving Hannibal's elephants and a mouse lands the Faradays in hot water with their employer, the Cosmos Institute. They are consequently sent for punishment to 1648 Prague to educate Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand III about fashions in footwear. Instantly bored for understandable reasons, teenage sibs Dawkins and Hypatia fall in with Jan Richthausen, an alchemist who actually can turn mercury into gold--using found technology more advanced than the Faradays' own. Somebody is meddling dangerously. In sharp contrast to most authors who try their hand at time-travel tales, Seven has plainly thought out consistent and (reasonably) plausible ways for his characters to interact with the past without causing paradoxes or catastrophic changes to the future. Though everyone in every era speaks the same colloquial English and the source of the futuristic devices and substances is never revealed in this setup episode, the author does propel Dawk, Hype and his other lively characters through a rousing multicentury chase that loops back around to close with tantalizing hints of adventures to come. A flying start for a series that puts in a strong bid for Magic Treehouse grads. (Science fiction. 10-12)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781434264381
Publisher:
Time-Tripping Faradays
Publication date:
07/28/2013
Pages:
158
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 7.50(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
NC830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

John Seven grew up in the 1970s, when science fiction movies and TV shows were cheap and fun. His favorites shows were The Starlost, Land of the Lost, and Return to the Planet of the Apes, and he loved time travel most of all. John collaborated with his wife, illustrator Jana Christy, on the comic book Very Vicky and a number of children’s books, including the multi-award-winning The Ocean Story, A Year With Friends, A Rule Is To Break: A Child’s Guide To Anarchy, and Happy Punks 1-2-3. John was born in Savannah, GA and currently lives in North Adams, MA with his wife and their twin sons, Harry and Hugo, where they all watch a lot of Doctor Who and Lost together.

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