The Alchemist in the Shadows

Pierre Pevel

281 pp • ISBN: 978-1-61614-365-7
Trade Paperback (6" x 9") • $17
April 2011
Cover Illustration: © Jon Sullivan

Welcome to Paris, in 1633, where dragons menace the realm. Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful and most feared man in France, is on his guard. He knows France is under threat, and that a secret society known as the Black Claw is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. They will strike from the shadows, and when they do the blow will be both terrible and deadly. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. Six men and a woman, all of exceptional abilities and all ready to risk their lives on his command. They have saved France before, and the Cardinal is relying on them to do it again.

So when la Fargue hears from a beautiful, infamous, deadly Italian spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen ...and when La Donna demands Cardinal Richelieu's protection before she will talk, la Fargue is even prepared to consider it. Because La Donna can name their enemy. It's a man as elusive as he is manipulative, as subtle as Richelieu himself, an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows ...


Praise for The Cardinal's Blades

"Pevel, winner of the 2002 Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire and the 2005 Prix Imaginales, makes a stunning English-language debut with this breathless, swashbuckling tale of intrigue, spying, and swordfights. In an alternate 17th-century Paris,
dragonnets are exotic pets, wyverns are high-class riding mounts, and dra
thugs are the coarsest of mercenaries. After a five-year hiatus, Cardinal Richelieu reunites his elite force to aid France in its complex relationship with Spain's Black Claw cult of half-dragon royalty. A mostly straightforward adventure plot leaves plenty of room for character development, drama, and excitement. Clegg's solid
translation reads pleasingly as culturally French without the language ever feeling
stilted or unnatural. Published in France to great acclaim in 2007, Pevel's
adventure is just as likely to charm Anglophone audiences who enjoy
action-packed adventure with a true historical sensibility.
—Publishers Weekly starred review

"Bold and completely absorbing, Pevel's English-language debut is exciting stuff." —Total Sci-Fi Online

"As an avid reader and an admirer of the Alexandre Dumas works, I found in The Cardinal's Blades a novel very much to my liking.... A fast-moving story, full of action, intrigue, and swashbuckling adventures."
—Dark Wolf's Fantasy Reviews

"If I had to sum up The Cardinal's Blades in two words, they would be: great fun. This is the France of Alexandre Dumas and Fanfan la Tulipe: a land of flashing
blades and break-neck chases, beautiful women and gallant warriors, of masquerades and midnight plots and sword play. The feel is that of classical Romance—we are here in the realms of The Three Musketeers—and while dragons and their schemes are the engine of the plot, they are shadowy, threatening creatures, far removed from the allies of Temeraire and Dragonflight. This is also alternate history, and history plays an important part in the plot."

—Strange Horizons

"This is a wildly entertaining read with delightfully broken characters. Were I ten again, I'd be running around the park with sticks, pretending to be the half-dragon Saint-Lucq. Also like Dumas, The Cardinal's Blades isn't 'great literature'—there aren't deeper themes or higher ideals at stake: this is a book of swashbuckling excess, and should be celebrated as such."

"The swashbuckling action and adventure, too, is one of the best reasons to read this book. Action and adventure this novel has in plenty and Pavel seems to be at his best and most effective as a writer when things get interesting. To the point, there are very effective "set-piece" encounters and battles that are exciting, well written, and helped draw me through the book... Pavel knows how to write effective, engaging and exciting encounters between the protagonists and their foes."
—Blog, Jvstin Style

"The story has much of the feel of the Alexander Dumas, although a more modern and sophisticated variation, and there are plenty of swashbuckling adventures, battles and pursuits, and secrets revealed before the end. I would be surprised if we don't see more of this author's work in translation in the near future."
—Don D'Ammassa's Critical Mass