Quintessence is a historical fantasy novel featuring the best of both genres, as David Walton turns the religious turmoil of mid-16th-century Tudor England and the European Age of Exploration into the setting for an utterly addictive, wildly imaginative adventure. Men of science, faith and alchemy are all confounded when Admiral Chelsey returns to England from a three-year sea voyage, his ship full of calcified dead men and a hull of sand, rocks and seawater. As the dying admiral tells an impoverished alchemist a tale of a paradise-like island perched on the edge of the world, royal physician Stephen Parris gets caught up in this mystery by dissecting a crew member's body.

The quintessence of the title is the ultimate alchemical element, a foundational creative force with magical powers. Christopher Sinclair, the alchemist, has spent his life ruthlessly seeking this element and its ability to conquer death. Chelsey's ship, and Parris's personal fortune, may be his only chance to reach the world's enchanted edge and find it.

Walton's fantasy, set in a world where the earth is flat and alchemy is real, is superbly intertwined with the real emerging scientific consciousness of this historical period. As Parris and Sinclair partner with other learned gentry and a party of Protestant refugees to sail across the Western Ocean, the biological and mystical attributes of the creatures they encounter feel authentic. It's as if Jules Verne had written fantasy instead of science fiction. --Tobias Mutter, freelance reviewer

Powered by: Xtenit