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The Alchemist‘s Apprentice


When a senior Venetian nobleman dies suddenly, people whisper that his death was predicted by Maestro Nostradamus, and the famous clairvoyant must have poisoned him to fulfil his own prophecy. The doge himself warns the Maestro to flee the city, but the old man determines instead to solve the murder--by magic and the efforts of his apprentice, Alfeo Zeno. Young Alfeo is accustomed to doing the legwork and he can call on the help of Violetta Vitale, the most sought-after courtesan in Venice, but can even Alfeo take on demons, assassins, and even the dreaded Council of Ten, all at the same time?  


" Murder mystery, apparently the first of a series, set in an alternate-world Renaissance Venice, from the excellent Duncan... brimming with wit and low-key charms; neither aficionados nor newcomers will be disappointed. " - Kirkus Reviews Starred review

" Duncan... 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 and Alfeo's adventures provide more amusement than chills in this charming farce, which comments lightly on class prejudice, political chicanery and occult tomfoolery. " - Publishers Weekly

" Filled with the author's customary touches of humor, light satire, and fast-paced action. The author shows his mastery of both storytelling and character-building... " - Library Journal

" Duncan's wit shows a distinctive intelligence, a clear-eyed vision that's both irreverent and astute. " - Locus

" This is rock 'em, sock 'em Renaissance skullduggery of the most compelling variety. Monsters, swords and murder make things tough for our young tough, but he's a pip, this one. A pip for the readers, whose minds will ratchet back into slack-jawed, droolworthy enjoyment while mysteries unfold, some solvable, some not so amenable to solution. " - Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column

" In some ways, the book is a classic mystery.... In other ways, the book is very much a fantasy novel.... As almost always with Duncan, this book is fun. Alfeo does not take himself too seriously, even while earnestly trying to solve the mystery. There's humor and adventure, mystery and magic, all rolled up in one package. " - Gumshoe

" In this charming, fast-paced romp, Duncan delivers an exciting and enjoyable tale that features a likable hero whose adventures will entertain even the most jaded of fantasy readers. " - Romantic Times

" The occult is a grace note in this cynical whodunit, juicy with period detail. B+ " - Entertainment Weekly

" ...a tense and compelling, yet light and enjoyable, romp through a fascinating alternative 16th-century Venice with a wide array of interesting and colorful characters. " -

" As Alfeo moves across the city, from Jewish ghetto to the houses of some of the greatest nobles, Duncan offers glimpses of all the ways of life in this bustling and wonderfully corrupt and congenial city, at a time when torture and every kind of intrigue were de rigeur. The Alchemist's Apprentice shows another side of Dave Duncan's talent to entertain his readers. It's a subtle mystery as well as a highly diverting entertainment. " - Edmonton Journal

" Duncan's many fans will be delighted. A very entertaining read. " - SF Site

Sample Chapter

I cannot post a sample for this book. Before it even sold to Ace, I provided a long extract (the first two chapters) to for its "Shorts" program, where it can be downloaded for 49¢:

Charging for letting you see advertising is a sleazy trick practiced by movie theaters, but in this case I would infringe my agreement with Amazon if I posted the same material elsewhere. As compensation for the fee, the extract provides about 10% of the text, so it gives you not only a good look at the story, but better value in words/¢ than the entire book will.