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Publisher's Summary

When Nostradamus is hired to find a foreign spy by Venice's ruling Council of 10, the only clues they can offer him are the spy's intercepted messages, encoded in a seemingly unbreakable cipher.

But Nostradamus soon detects evil influences working against him, and realizes the spy can only be caught by occult means. He turns to his able apprentice, the young swordsman Alfeo Zeno, whose unique talents may prove essential to unraveling the truth.

Thus begins a series of events that will involve Alfeo in murder, passion, betrayal, and magic.

Listen to the first book, The Alchemist's Apprentice.
©2008 Dave Duncan; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"One of the leading masters of epic fantasy." (Publishers Weekly)

What members say

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  • David
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 12-22-09

Slow start--keep going

For a while I thought I was going to throw this one back on the shelf. It begins slowly and the writing is not artful enough to hold a reader, even in a fascinating historical milieu, without a quicker opening to the plot. However, by the time I got a third of the way through the book, it was moving along merrily and the characters had begun to delight. The central character is engaging and attractive with wit and panache enough to make us enjoy spending time with him. Ironically, the real stength of the book is that plot which is a little slow off the mark. By the end it has proven itself fascinating and as tightly constructed as one of Master Nostradamus' logical explanations. No loose ends, satisfying twists and turns. Just enough magic to add spice. And some memorable characters all operating in one of the most interesting of all historical settings. I ended up thoroughly enjoying the book.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Milan
  • Detroit, MI, USA
  • 10-10-09

Thoroughly enjoyable

A riveting murder mystery set in 16th century Venice, with politics, espionage, and necromancy thrown in for good measure. I intend to listen to more works from Dave Duncan.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jennifer
  • Los Angeles, CA, USA
  • 12-18-09


I just couldn't get into this. I gave it a fair shot. Maybe 1/4 of the book? I just couldn't bring myself to care about the characters, the plot, or even the setting, which should have been at least moderately interesting. Oh well.

1 of 3 people found this review helpful