View Full Version : Alchemy in Novels

01-04-2009, 12:50 AM
This is a Phoenix-thread (http://forum.alchemyforums.com/showthread.php?t=7) from the old site (http://alchemy-forums.forumotion.com/forum.htm) created by taceyoto.

Hey everyone, I wanted to start a thread on novels containing alchemy. I have read a few,

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - I recommend this book to any and everyone, it made a significant change in my life be it with alchemy or not.

Seven Taoist Masters - This is a chinese folk novel dealing with internal alchemy.

Any others out there some might recommend?
Dante's Inferno, and The Tragic History of Doctor Faustus

Of course these aren't novels in the modern sense, but I believe they hold some fascinating alchemical secrets.
I didn't like The Alchemist, but I might have liked it more had I read it at the start of my alchemical journey.

A book I always recommend is:


If you read this one and don't find it fascinating you are without a soul!

I am about to start reading 'Quicksilver' by Neal Stephenson. I really liked his near future cyberpunk novel 'Snow Crash', but Quicksilver is set in the 17th Century. The blurb on the back includes this sentence:

"A novel of history, adventure, science, invention, sex, absurdity, piracy, madness, death and alchemy that sweeps across continents and decades, upending kings, armies, religious beliefs and all expectations."

And with the name 'Quicksilver' and a picture of Mercury on the front I would expect to see alchemy play and important role...

Well, its taken me a while, partly because I've been very busy lately, but I am finally getting towards the end of this book. And boy can I recommend it!

The book is not so much about Alchemy per sae as it is 'Natural Philosophy', which is to say it is about the birth of science out of alchemy. As such it includes characters such as Isaac Newton (and much is made of his interest in Alchemy), and we are introduced to Benjamin Franklin as a child (although he doesn't play a significant role in this book). The references to alchemy are both subtle and incredibly insightful. For example, the god Mercury gets mentioned quite a lot, but not always in the context of alchemy. Mercury is also a god of thieves, merchants and messengers, yet even here the author makes profound observations.

For example, in a great city of trade, where many of the buildings are adorned with the god Mercury, the characters discuss how everything, even money, becomes as quicksilver in the city and can be 'transformed' (through trade) into anything else. At another point it is discussed how an army in need of ammunition for its muskets, will happily trade gold for its weight in lead.

On top of all this is a gripping story, and really you won't want the book to end. Mind you, with around 900 pages of story, and a couple of sequels already released, it won't end too quickly unless you are a lot faster reader than I!

This book comes highly recommended from me!
Ok, I will keep a note of this one!

I am aware of the authour, but have yet not read anything!

It is not really a fiction, but it is almost written like one:

http://www.curledup.com/books/lastalch.jpg (http://images.contentreserve.com/ImageType-100/0293-1/%7B0AFC4539-708C-4E5D-BF96-24FE7E22E54D%7DImg100.jpg)
The Last Alchemist by Iain Mccalman

A highly enjoyable read I must say if you are interested in Cagliostro (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alessandro_Cagliostro) that is!

Its a comic series.....but with underlying perceptions I could live my life by and the characters are absolutely superb......its the discworld series by Terry Pratchett.....they have a guild of alchemists in it that are always blowing themselves up.....but the wizards of the Unseen University ......well its all magic,isnt it.
However Mr Pratchett makes some very unkind comments about astrology.........laugh