Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review: The Hermetica of Elysium by Annemarie Banks

Title: The Hermetica of Elysium
Author: Annemarie Banks
Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing
Publish Date: December 8, 2011 (TODAY!!!)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher. This did not affect my review!

Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You're a fantasy fan.
  • You like strong characters.
What's the Story?:

From "1494 Barcelona. As Torquemada lights the fires of religious fervor throughout the cities of Spain, accused heretics are not the only victims. Thousands of books and manuscripts are lost to the flames as the Black Friars attempt to purge Europe of the ancient secrets of the gods and the bold new ideas that are ushering in the Renaissance.

Nadira lives a dreary life as servant to a wealthy spice merchant until the night a dying scholar is brought to the merchant’s stable, beaten by mercenaries who are on the hunt for The Hermetica of Elysium. To Nadira, words are her life: she lives them as her master’s scrivener and dreams them in her mother’s poetry. She is pursued as passionately as the fabled manuscript for her rare skill as a reader of Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew that makes her valuable to men who pursue the book to exploit its magic.

Kidnapped by Baron Montrose, an adventurous nobleman, she is forced to read from the Hermetica. It is soon revealed to her that ideas and words are more powerful than steel or fire for within its pages are the words that incite the Dominicans to religious fervor, give the Templars their power and reveal the lost mysteries of Elysium.

As Nadira begins her transformation from servant to sorceress, will she escape the fires of the Inquisition, the clutches of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI and the French king, Charles VIII? And will Montrose’s growing fear of her powers cause her to lose her chance for love?"

My Two Cents:

Nadira is a woman before her time. In late 1400s Spain, she knows bunches of languages and therefore becomes an incredible asset for a couple different groups of people (including the Pope) for her translating skills, which could unlock the key to understanding the Hermetica of Elysium, a book filled with alchemy and other valuable ideas and knowledge. Even though a woman in the late 1400s did not have much power of her own, Nadira uses what she does have (her language skills) in order to make her way in the world. It was nice and most definitely refreshing to see a woman of this time be a force to be reckoned with!!! Nadira is anything but a wilting flower!

It did take me a little bit to get into this book but I really got into it when Nadira is taken away by Montrose and his men. She is originally taken away for her language skills but the men realize that she is valuable in other ways when she is up for taking a magic potion that can make her travel invisibly or perhaps in her own mind to answer questions and to know what everyone is feeling. It also doesn't hurt that she finds a little romance with Montrose!

So yes, this book definitely has a magic element to it, which I absolutely love. Magical realism is definitely one of my favorite elements in a book so I was excited to see it in The Hermetica of Elysium. Banks does a wonderful job of taking these really outlandish elements and turning them into something really believable.

This book is the first in a planned series; however, I think you can definitely read this book as a standalone book without feeling empty at the end. I know that I personally will be interested to see what else happens to Nadira and Montrose in future tales.

Bottom line: Overall, a good read!



  1. sounds like an intriguing read- just the kind to get the imagination going. The description reminds me a little of Kate Mosse's books.

  2. Historical fiction AND fantasy - sign me up! I love a little magical realism, so this book sounds right up my alley.


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