Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review: The Hermetica of Elysium ~ by Annmarie Banks

Hermetica of Elysium

Review by Shellie for: The Hermetica of Elysium ~ by Annmarie Banks

A historical fantasy set in 1494 Barcelona during the Spanish inquisition. It’s an exciting novel that contains a strong intelligent heroine and a magical book that has esoteric knowledge which everyone is literally dying to possess.

About:  Nadira, is a tiny young woman who barely looks her age. Although in her 20’s she appears 17. Of Muslim descent (and called Moorish during this time period), she arrives in Spain as a small child. Abducted from her desert home as the proceeds from war she is sold as a slave along with her mother to a Spanish master.

Amazingly, before leaving her homeland her mother taught her to read and write in their native tongue. Even more unusual is that Nadira’s new owner, a once Jewish man, trains her in various other languages. Giving her extraordinary abilities as a reader of Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew which makes her among the few who have the skills needed to read a controversial and blasphemous book - the Hermetic of Elysium.

When Nadira is “taken” again but now from her new Spanish master by the English lord - Baron Montrose, she is at first resistant. But things change for her rather quickly when she realizes this man is of good character and swears to protect her with his life, if only she will help him avenge his brother’s death and decipher the contents of this esoteric book.

Thoughts:  An easily read novel that I did not want to put it down, it has a strong female character (my favorite), a strong and likable male lead, and a scattering of interesting side characters which creates an interesting and colorful ride. I particularly liked that there was only light sexual references and romance.

The story feels like it’s historical fiction with a thread of the fantastical (which is turning out to be one of my preferred type of fantasy). With writing that is intelligent, imbued with literary and philosophical knowledge, including key issues around human nature, what is good and evil, and a solid definition of ignorance and knowledge. All the while presenting a way for readers (like me) to get some world history without even realizing it. Considering it happens during an intriguing and volatile period there is plenty of opportunity for some very nasty bad guys – the Black Friars, to do horrible inquisition type things.

What didn’t I like about this book? Absolutely nothing, since it was just one of those great reads that gave me a needed escape. It’s a 4.25 star in my opinion since I could not decide which way to go; 4 star or 4.5 stars. Kudos to this author who apparently self published the book under a different title before finding its current home. But the best yet is there is a sequel coming soon, which I will be excitedly waiting for.

Pages 396 | Knox Robinson Publishing | December 2011Necromancers Grimoire

The sequel will be published under the title: The Necromancer’s Grimoire. Book two of the Elysium Texts series is where Nadira travels to Istanbul to search for something the Templar Knights lost 200 years earlier. There she begins to study with the last priestess of an ancient religion. This novel has an estimated publishing date of September 2012.

I can’t wait! 

Thanks for reading.


Blodeuedd said...

My guest reviewer liked this one too :) It does sound good

ediFanoB said...


thanks for a great review. I like to read historical fiction - one of my current reads is A Place Called Armageddon by C.C. Humphreys.
Without your review I would have completely missed The Hermetica of Elysium.
As I normally do not buy hardcover I was happy to see that the book is also available in digital format.

I looked at GOODREADS. It seems that more women than men read this book. For me that does not matter.

Who can resist a book about a book in Barcelona.
That reminds me of the cemetery of forgotten books in one of my favorite books: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon.

Unknown said...

Blodeuedd -
I think you will like this one .... however she is definitely not a "kick butt" heroine type. Since I think that is a favorite for you?

Edi -
I hope you enjoy it. I do want to mention that it is a kind of girly. So be forewarned. *grin* But I loved the male characters too...

It's an easy read and if you enjoy it - you will read it in only a few sitting.


I will be looking forward to what you both think about this book.

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