The Five Elements ~ Scott Marlowe

  • Title:  The Five Elements
  • Author: Scott Marlowe
  • Series: The Alchemancer #1
  • Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult
  • Format: eBook
  • Source: Own Copy
  • Reviewed by: Sonja
  • Rating: 4 out of 5

Description:  Aaron—scholar, alchemist, and sorcerer’s apprentice—wants nothing more than to study his tomes, perform his experiments, and spend time with his closest friend, Shanna. Substitute the occasional romp about the city for the books and plenty of games of crutchit for the smelly alchemicals, and Shanna is just fine with that, too.

Their routines—and their lives—are thrown into chaos when an elemental attack is launched against their home. Aaron thinks Shanna killed, while Aaron himself is forced to flee for his life. For Shanna, who survives that fateful night, the greatest adventure of her life is about to begin. Only the worst of nightmares awaits Aaron: pursued by dwarves, hell hounds, and a demon who will not stop until he is dead, the only thing keeping him alive is his own resourcefulness and an eslar mercenary whose reputation as a killer might make him the worst threat of all.

Though Aaron and Shanna travel different paths, their purpose is joined when they individually learn of the mysterious Fifth Element. Shanna sees it as the final piece in the puzzle that is her destiny. To Aaron’s logical mind, it is an impossible ambiguity. Whatever the answer, the Fifth Element draws them back together and into a final confrontation not as allies, but as adversaries.

Review:  I hate writing book reviews for books such as this. I just hate it. I do not feel, in any way, I can do the book justice. This is a wonderful little gem of a book.

The Five Elements tells the story of two friends and the paths onto which they are forced and the choices they then make. Because of the ages of our protagonists, I am sure some would classify this as young adult. To me, it is a story about people who just happen to be young and, therefore, enjoyable by all. As I read, I certainly did not feel spoken down to and the literary quality is quite high. And, no angst.

The writing style is very descriptive rather than dialog heavy and is written in an almost “Sliding Doors” manner. That is to say, when our two protagonists split, they take wildly different paths but eventually end up in the same place. The chapters rotate between characters and get longer as the tale progresses. I did find myself enjoying my stay with one character rather more than the other. Which actually surprised me. 

The magic system involved is unusual and, as can probably be guessed by the title, involves using the elements: fire, earth, air, and water. And, the fifth element. (You will have to read to discover.) I really liked this take on the magic system. I also liked that it did not only involve magic, but also science. I am a sucker for characters who are smart and use science. 

My only problem with this book was character names. (I really never would have guessed how much names make a difference in my ability to enjoy a story.) There were several characters/classes whose names start with ‘E’ and five letters long. And, another whose name started with an ‘E’ but was longer. Now, if these are familiar names, it would not be an issue for me but because they were beyond what is normal, I kept mixing them up and forgetting about whom we were speaking. It made things a tad bit confusing for me. It was at best, however, a minor irritant. 

Oh, and, there is no snark.


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