Monday, January 23, 2012

Book Review: The Hermetica of Elysium

The Hermetica of Elysium

by Annmarie Banks

Release date: 8th December, 2010
Publisher: Knox Robinson Publishing
Pages: 400 (ARC offered by the publisher in exchange for an honest review)

Summary from Goodreads:

1494 Barcelona. As Torquemada lights the fires of religious fervor throughout the cities of Spain, accused heretics are not the only victims. Thousands of books and manuscripts are lost to the flames as the Black Friars attempt to purge Europe of the ancient secrets of the gods and the bold new ideas that are ushering in the Renaissance.

Nadira lives a dreary life as servant to a wealthy spice merchant until the night a dying scholar is brought to the merchant’s stable, beaten by mercenaries who are on the hunt for The Hermetica of Elysium. To Nadira, words are her life: she lives them as her master’s scrivener and dreams them in her mother’s poetry. She is pursued as passionately as the fabled manuscript for her rare skill as a reader of Ancient Greek, Latin, Arabic and Hebrew that makes her valuable to men who pursue the book to exploit its magic.

Kidnapped by Baron Montrose, an adventurous nobleman, she is forced to read from the Hermetica. It is soon revealed to her that ideas and words are more powerful than steel or fire for within its pages are the words that incite the Dominicans to religious fervor, give the Templars their power and reveal the lost mysteries of Elysium.

As Nadira begins her transformation from servant to sorceress, will she escape the fires of the Inquisition, the clutches of the Borgia pope, Alexander VI and the French king, Charles VIII? And will Montrose’s growing fear of her powers cause her to lose her chance for love?

Review By Alaiel Kreuz:

What an amazing read this was. I have to be honest, I began reading this book a while ago and stopped after a few pages because I had a few problems and then, instead of picking it up again, I went to read something else and never came back for it.
Major. Mistake. Ever. If you begin make sure to read a few chapters and I promise you won't stop. I still can't believe I didn't finish it before because it's AMAZING.

Everything begins in Bercelona, Spain. The year is 1494 when Nadira's master calls for her to translate the last words of a man who has been beaten so badly she can barely look at him. But when this man realizes she can understand him and speak his language he leaves her a precious message that his captors can not understand.

Soon the man dies and she is left with a secret message for his brother who comes and finds out the Nadira can, in fact, speak and translate several languages. And this makes her a valuable asset in their quest to fin The Hermetica of Elysium and understand its secrets before the Pope, the Inquisition and a King reach the book to destroy it or use it against the world.
That's why this man, Baron Montrose, kidnaps her and begins an adventure that will take them to the confines of the earth...

And why is this book so important? Because it holds knowledge, important knowledge about the power of words and how to use it. Soon Nadira begins to read from the book and realizes that despite being a woman in a time where the men ruled she could use her skills to get information and wisdom.

Now she is learning from The Hermetica and becoming a sorcerer... but will all that power be enough to stop the plots surrounding her and Baron Montrose to whom she has develop feelings of love? Because it doesn't matter how many times she is kidnapped every captor gives her a new glimpse of the Book's power and helps her fullfil her destiny... Even when she doesn't understand or knows what's going to happen next.

Personal opinion:
My favorite character was, by far, Nadira. We don't really know too much about her past, all we are offered is that her mother was once a princess and her dad an emir. And thanks to her mother and their Master she is well educated. Her best quality is her desire to learn and when she realizes she is an important part in a plot of conspiracy and knowledge she decides to be the one to rule her destiny.

Annemarie Banks has done a wonderful job creating a story where fantasy, adventure, historical romance and history collide in perfect harmony. You won't get tired of anything, you won't even want to stop reading... it's seriously impossible to want to put down the book when all you desire is to know what's going to happen next, what is Nadira going to learn or understand next.

The love part of this book is well developed too, in case you were wondering and since I don't want to spoil anything I'm just going to say that everything happens at the right time and in the right moment. No rush, no craziness.

And the setting is perfectly described: I'm from Spain and I've read tons of books about Barcelona during the Inquisition and I have to say that Annemarie did her homework really well. Thanks for that, Annemarie! I loved reading your descriptions of not only places but also people: they were real (which means they weren't always nice but accurate) and they helped me to create the Barcelona this book needed.

My recommendation? Go and buy it, once at home make a hot beverage and sit down. You can come back and tell me if you liked it or not after you finish it... and then we can wait together for the next book!
But never fear, The Hermetica has a proper ending, you will feel at ease with it... but you will want to know what the future holds for Nadira and Montrose too!

Alaiel's Rating:

If you really like it, you can find it here:


  1. Oooh this sounds intriguing! I've never seen this book around before too it seems like something I would like! Lovely review! :)

    Xpresso Reads

  2. I've added it to my TBR, Alaiel. I love books like this!

  3. @Giselle & kara-karina: I'm sure you both will like the book, I promise you it's really really good. Let me know what you think about it ;)


Something to share? (cheese would be awesome!) I love to read your comments :]