The Poison Master Mass Market Paperback – Jan 1 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Gutsy Alivet Dee sets out to save her sister from alien slavery but ends up rescuing much more in this fantastic, whirlwind tale. A descendent of 16th-century mathematician and alchemist John Dee, Alivet resides on a planet known as Latent Emanation, a foggy fen where humans live under the rule of the cruel Lords of Night. When the Lords select Alivet's twin, Inki, to serve as their slave, Alivet, a budding apothecary and alchemist who longs to discover the origin of her people, vows to pay Inki's "unbonding" fee. Before she can save enough money, a bizarre accident puts her life in jeopardy and leads her to form a tenuous alliance with the Poison Master, a secretive man possessing red eyes, an intimate knowledge of deadly toxins and a desire to find the substance that will annihilate the Lords. During her quest, Alivet visits two richly imagined planets: Hathes, a bitterly cold place where assassination is commonplace; and Nethes, a hot planet where Alivet first learns of Earth. The book's various cultures and characters are fascinating, but what makes this story unusual is its historical breadth and its consideration of the spiritual and supernatural. Part alien adventure and part existential exploration, this top-notch tale establishes Williams (Empire of Bones) as an author to watch.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
On the planet Latent Emanation, alchemist Alivet saves every penny she earns for her sister's unbonding fee. Unfortunately, her plan to save her sister from the Night Lords crumbles when a client dies as a result of one of her formulations. Thereafter, on the run from the Night Lords' human minions, the Unpriests, she is offered a chance for survival by the mysterious figure she had noticed following her around the city--Ghairen, a poison master from Hathes. He needs her alchemical skills to find the drug to destroy the Night Lords. She agrees to help, but then, as a virtual prisoner in Ghairen's home, told conflicting stories by everyone she meets, she becomes unsure of whom to trust. She remains certain, however, that destroying the Night Lords will free her sister, and she determines that that is what she will do, whatever the truth of the tales she has been told. The alchemical and kabbalistic underpinnings of Williams' fantasy world give it an edge over similar rescue sagas. Regina Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top Customer Reviews
Plot mechanations soon throw her into the arms of the mysterious, witty poison-master Ghairen from yet another planet, Hathes, and soon Alivet is drawn up in a plot to free her world of the mysterious Lords of Night and their collaborators, the "Unpriests"--and more than incidentally to free her twin sister Inki.
She's attracted to Ghairen, but can she trust him? Williams spins out the answers cleverly, gorgeously, giddily. The byplay between Alivet and Ghairen is to treasure. Her descriptive passages are lush. Her prose dances and sparkles and the characters (unsurprisingly considering the debt to Austen) seem believable and all too human.
Williams just keeps getting better and better.
I recommend this book particularly for those who enjoy the Baroque and who have a strong ability to visual the scenes described. The alchemical imagery meshes well with the culture that has arisen from the combination of Elizabethan era dessenters and alien culture. There's also a great sense of the theatrical in the descriptions of the Anubes-- enigmatic natives of the planet where the humans find themselves, and the great palaces where certain indentured humans labor to provide their alien masters with subtle pleasures.
Also there is a darkly humorous take on the traditional gothic novel in the relationship between the lead characters and the situation the heroine discovers herself in for the last part of the novel. While serious in intent, the author is quite playful in execution of parts of this novel.
All in all a definite reading pleasure.
Alchemist and apothecary Alivet Dee is saving her money to get her sister Inki unbonded but her goal seems futile when one of her clients dies and she is wanted for murder. On the run she meets Fifth Grade poisoner Ari Mahedi Ghairen of the planet Hathes who needs her help in destroying the Lords of the Night. She travels with him to his own world where they devise a poison that might free her world of her enemies. However, first she must discover if Ari is the friend he appears or the enemy that will kill her as predicted to her by one whom knows him very well.
Liz Williams has created a very innovating, cutting edge science fiction thriller that starts off at supersonic speed and turns into faster than light until the plot attains a satisfying if startling climax. The hero is an enigma who readers never really get to understand but the heroine endears herself to the audience from the start with her plans to reclaim her sister from indentured servitude. THE POISON MASTER is science fiction at its thought provoking very best.
Despite it all, Dee agrees to help him destroy the Lords and travels to Ari's planet, when his household help tells Dee that Ari is actually planning to poison her after they achieve their goal. The question is, whom should Dee believe, since she really knows neither party very well.
Liz Williams demonstrates sophisticated story telling skills. The dialogue runs smoothly and the story is captivating. In addition, she has some imagination! One of the reasons it took me so long to get into this book was due to all the strange references and situations/creatures that Dee runs into to. There is a small parallel story, running back to Earth's 16th century which adds interest, and though it was probably not really necessary, it completes the story.
Four stars for imagination, writing and characters. I would have liked a smoother storyline transition and more characters to give a fully fledged fantasy.
Most recent customer reviews
First off let me say that i enjoyed this book - however it has been done before - countless times. I cant tell you how many books involve a person being chased by "the bad... Read morePublished on July 5 2004 by P. Robinson
Take the standard story from a trashy romance novel. Use both historical and pseudo-scientific alchemy as a background. Toss in some unbelievably trite alien overlords. Read morePublished on April 30 2004 by Jacob Butcher
You cannot do justice to this book in a brief synopsis. The author paints vivid pictures of strange worlds, weird characters, and travels between worlds. Read morePublished on June 9 2003