Rated 4.75/5 based on 4 reviews
The Lord Alchemist must be immune to hostile potions. But in all of Cymelia, there are only three: Iathor, his brother Iasen, and the half-barbarian herb-witch, Kessa. Iathor has secured a betrothal, but his brother has vowed to prevent the marriage - by any means necessary. And Kessa's own dark secrets may sabotage any hope of a happy ending. More

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Words: 136,900
Language: English
ISBN: 9781465769039
About Elizabeth McCoy

Elizabeth McCoy's fiction has appeared in Marion Zimmer Bradley's Sword and Sorceress #7, in the "Best In Show" anthology by Sofawolf*, and in the fanzine "Pawprints" (published by Conrad Wong & T. Jordan Peacock). Her tabletop RPG writing is published by Steve Jackson Games. As her author bios in SJ Games' material continually state, she lives in the Frozen Wastelands of New England, with a spouse, child, and assorted cats.

She hopes that her work will be enjoyed, and is always a bit awkward about referring to herself in the third person.

*Best in Show has been re-published as: "Furry!: The Best Anthropomorphic Fiction!" (Fred Patten, ed.)

Also in Lord Alchemist

Also by This Author


Review by: Nancy on Feb. 10, 2013 :
I really enjoyed both this book and the previous one, Herb-Witch. The relationship between Iathor and Kessa is complex and feels true to life (to me, at least).
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: C.R. Rice on Sep. 06, 2012 :
As I recently discussed earlier, Elizabeth McCoy is a damn good author. Herb-Witch (the first book of the series) ends with you being hurtled over a figurative cliff (as opposed to just hanging there). I hate cliffhangers. No really, I hate them, they annoy me and they must die. I hate the wait. I hate the wondering. Hate, hate, hate. And yeah, if you’re curious Jim Butcher drove me freaking nuts with his latest Dresden Files books. Other than my deep abiding hatred and loathing of cliffhangers I liked the first book and I sure as hell liked the second one. Herb-Wife picks up where Herb-Witch left off, again, I won’t spoil it but the title should give away at least some of it. Kessa, Iathor, and that unpredictable bastard Iason are back. The second book quite succinctly sums up just about everything I could want summed up but I’m still left with questions and even a few doubts (but that’s the case with nearly every bit of fiction out there).

As a sometimes writer myself I know one thing: endings are hard. You cannot possibly tie up every string, thread, and spool of plot there is. And if you tried, you’d go mad. Still you can tie up the big ones and even a few of the small ones, and in the end that’s the best you can do. McCoy nails it pretty close to the mark, making sure most of the plots are tied with a ribbon and a bell. Also there is a refreshing lack of plot-holes (on either proverbial ceiling or floor). The dialogue remains witty and the attention to details remains high. The book in general was a real page-turner and I must admit I finished it in less than three days of before-bed reading.

Again, the vagueness of geography threw me off a bit; places and names were mentioned but with only the barest of descriptions. There was also one instance of “Why is that character here” but it was justified enough later on that and I was suitably mollified. I was rather disappointed by the book length, I felt the author could have gone on a bit more and I found myself at the end far too quickly. Both books of the Lord Alchemist’s Duology are worth acquiring if you have a love of low-magic fantasy worlds or alchemy in general.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Conrad Wong on March 24, 2012 :
This is a darker, more sensual book than the first book, Herb-Witch, so be forewarned! That said, it delivers excellently on all the promises of the first book. It isn't much of a spoiler to observe that the marriage between Iathor and Kessa does come into being, and it is not going to be your typical fairy-tale happily-ever-after marriage... In fact, Iathor's confusions are just beginning.

There is prejudice against the 'barbarians', of which Kessa is a half-breed; there is hatred from a source Iathor would not have expected but Kessa knows too well; there is Kessa's own upbringing casting pebbles beneath her steps as they explore the murky waters of what it means to be married to one another, Lord Alchemist and herb-witch just one foot out of the gutters. These combine to keep the tension high, and me reading pages late into the night.

Elizabeth McCoy's world-building shines again as she explores more consequences of a world where alchemy is the mainstay technology and its practitioners are groping through its dark mysteries. We see more about how immunity to mind-affecting potions can be a dual-edged sword, and how loyalty-creating potions can shape their civilization. Alchemy is never treated as a deus ex machina; it is a source of problems and tools that, used wisely, can help solve these problems... But wisdom must come from its users, so we are naturally introduced to malevolent users as well as benevolent.

While this book forms a complete duology with the previous book, I do hope that there will be more Lord Alchemist and Kessa stories coming soon!
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

Review by: incandescens on March 10, 2012 :
Happy endings aren't always happy for everyone, or even endings, and this sequel proves the point nicely. While Iathor and Kessa may be betrothed, they aren't married yet, and even then that doesn't necessarily make a _happy_ marriage, let alone heirs.

A number of the events in this book reference the previous one, or revisit philosophical and ethical problems inherent in the series. This is all to the good, as it makes the story feel more plausible, more something that could happen in a living, growing system, rather than just a single short story. The characters and the ongoing plot developments leave the reader wanting more in this series, and in this universe.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)

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