The Alchemist's Door by Lisa Goldstein

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Synopsis

Scientist, mathematician, and court astrologer to Queen Elizabeth I, John Dee is also one of the sixteenth-century's most renowned alchemists, driven by a passion to fathom the elemental secrets of the cosmos. But when his reckless assistant, Edward Kelley, succeeds in using a crystal sphere to summon angels, Dee is catapulted into an awesome struggle that may extinguish the light of reason forever.

One of the spirits invoked is a cunning demon who takes possession of Dee's young daughter, Katherine, and shows Dee a frightening vision of his own future. Terrified by what has been foretold, Dee abruptly decides to close his house in London and flee to Europe with his long-suffering wife, Jane, and their two young children.

Their desperate flight brings them at last to the city of Prague--a center of culture, knowledge, and learning, both sacred and profane, a gateway between the Eastern and Western worlds, and also, it is whispered, a door between our world and the world of the spirits.

There, in the city's ancient streets, Dee encounters the mystic Rabbi Judah Loew, who enlists his aid in the creation of a Golem--a man fashioned from the clay--to defend the city's Jewish Quarter from persecution. And he asks Dee's help to avert a impending crisis that threatens to engulf the world. For ancient legends say that the fate of the world rests on shoulders of thirty-six righteous men. And if one of those righteous men dies before his time, the world will end and dark spirits will remake it in their own image.

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About Lisa Goldstein

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Lisa Goldstein is the author of seven widely acclaimed novels, including The Dream Years, A Mask for the General, Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon, Tourists, Summer King, Winter Fool, and Dark Cities Underground, as well as numerous works of short fiction, recently collected in the anthology Travellers in Magic. Goldstein lives in Oakland, California.
 
Published April 14, 2003 by Tor Books. 288 pages
Genres: History, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Alchemist's Door

Kirkus Reviews

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Kelley persuades Rudolph that Loew and Dee know who the 36th man is;

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Publishers Weekly

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Ambitious 16th-century (real-life) English alchemist John Dee and his associate, Edward Kelley, summon spirits to learn the nature of the world, but are unprepared when a demon answers their spells instead and threatens Dee's family.

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SF Site

The premise to this novel, announced in the author's introductory, is a meeting between the famous English alchemist, John Dee, and his contemporary in the hermetic sciences, Rabbi Judah Loew: "Whether the Elizabethan student of the occult Dr. John Dee and Rabbi Judah Loew, who is cre...

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The Best Reviews

Though John thought he speaks with God or those close to God, a demon intercepts his thirst for knowledge of God's great plan by threatening John's family especially by possessing little Katherine.

Aug 01 2002 | Read Full Review of The Alchemist's Door

Strange Horizons

Dee and Loew, not always on the same side, not always able to trust one another, are comprehensibly human despite their great stores of knowledge (Dee, among other things, possessed at one time the finest private library in England, totalling over 4000 books -- an impressive number even today).

Jul 28 2003 | Read Full Review of The Alchemist's Door

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