Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE FIVE ELEMENTS by @scottmarlowe

Today’s team review is from Crystin, she blogs at

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Crystin has been reading The Five Elements by Scott Marlowe


Title: The Five Elements by Scott Marlowe

  • Genre: Fantasy


Shanna and Aaron are best friends who are separated when a violent and catastrophic force of nature destroys their home. Each embark on an adventure filled with adversity and unexpected luck in an attempt to set their world back to rights. However, their paths are vastly different, and only one is right …

The Five Elements is a fantasy novel filled with sorcery, alchemy, witchcraft, and good old-fashioned sword fights. While the book is well written with great detail, I occasionally felt it had too much detail. Granted, I thought the same thing when reading Zelazny and Tolkien.

I liked the pacing of the story: not too fast, but still full of events and plot twists galore. The characters were a little hit and miss though: I found Ensel Rhe fascinating, Aaron to be mildly interesting … but I didn’t like Shanna’s character progression. I didn’t give a hoot about most of the other characters – which may or may not be a bad thing.

The part that I disliked most? It doesn’t end well. There’s too much death and destruction and loss – which makes for a very real and vivid dark fantasy. Although it didn’t have the type of ending I prefer, it was an incredibly well written ending. I just prefer the fairy tale ‘and they all lived happily ever after’ sort of stories.

I’d recommend this to fans of fantasy – especially rich, detailed fantasy – and those who prefer a darker, grittier tale.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I discovered this book because I’m a proud member of Rosie’s Book Review Team!

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Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT THE FIVE ELEMENTS by @scottmarlowe #Fantasy

Today’s team review is from Barb, she blogs here

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Barb chose to read and review The Five Elements by Scott Marlowe


The world is made up of four elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. This is a fact well known even to Corporal Nobbs. It’s also wrong. There’s a fifth element, and generally it’s called Surprise.

— (Terry Pratchett, The Truth)

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I like tropes. They are a wonderful shorthand that tells us immediately what’s going on. You know the ones I mean…

  • Will they or won’t they? (If it’s season one/book one of the series—they won’t.)
  • The quest. (Save the Chosen One, recover the macguffin, save the world. True love optional.)
  • The Morgan Freeman (apparently, he’s in every possible movie as gravitas)
  • Beautiful people are good. Ugly ones are either bad or funny. (No fat superspy will ever stop evil/get the girl/save the free world.)
  • If you kill the leader of the bad guys, their minions will close up shop and go away.
  • The government/big business did it. (Duh)
  • Bad guys, outlaws, and imperial stormtroopers can’t shoot worth shit. Unless they are nameless extras, preferably wearing a red shirt, and it’s before the second commercial break. (Double duh)

I especially like it when people play with tropes. Joss Whedon is a master of this one. (Need to kill the evil undead? Use a blonde teenager.) In my review here of Scott Marlowe’s The Killing Knife, I mentioned my admiration for the way he uses tropes in his science fiction/fantasy works. And The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One) is no exception.

The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One)

When powerful earth sorcerers forsook their vows to harness the earth not with magic, but with science, their brethren struck them down and hunted them to the last. Or so they thought… Now, five hundred years later, one person seeks to carry on the work of those first early thinkers by making the parts of their greatest creation whole again.

Aaron and Shanna fall victim to these ambitions when their home is leveled by a surprise elemental attack. In the ensuing chaos, the two are separated. For Shanna, hardship soon turns to fortune, as she finds herself

embarking upon the greatest adventure of her life. Only the worst of nightmares awaits Aaron. Hunted at every turn, the only thing keeping him alive is his own resourcefulness and an eslar mercenary whose reputation as a killer might make him the worst threat of all.

Though Aaron and Shanna travel different paths, their purpose is joined when they individually learn of the mysterious Fifth Element. Shanna sees it as the final piece in the puzzle that is her destiny. To Aaron’s logical mind, it is an impossible ambiguity. Whatever the answer, the Fifth Element draws them back together and into a final confrontation that will mean the end of everything unless they succeed.

gold starMy Review: 4 stars out of 5

The story begins and ends with an unlikely friendship. Aaron, apprentice to a master sorcerer, is apparently marked for a successful and prosperous life, while best friend Shanna is a waif headed for a low-level, difficult existence. But she is the strong one who rescues him from street bullies and dominates their friendship. When their city and everything they know is destroyed in an attack of cataclysmic violence, Aaron becomes the one person that the powerful sorcerers demand must be saved—and he’s the one target of the attackers.

Scott Marlowe is an engineer, an outdoor enthusiast, and a weaver of tales that often end in wondrous, explosive mayhem. He holds degrees in Computer Science Engineering, Comparative Literature, and English from the University of California, Davis. Scott lives in Texas, where he drinks copious amounts of strong coffee and rides his mountain bike whenever the opportunity arises.

In a standard fantasy, this would be the signal for the quest. There would be a small band of plucky adventurers who seek the macguffin that will save the world. Along the way, they will reveal the One, destined to save everything in a final battle. Only that’s where Scott Marlowe takes that trope, ties it up in knots, and slices it up the middle. The two friends are torn apart, each to begin separate quests for the macguffin Four Elements and mysterious Fifth Element that will allow their owner to either save or rule the world.

The Five Elements is an early work by Scott Marlowe, and by no means a perfect one. There is a much more than nodding reflection of works ranging from Lord of the Rings to The Fifth Element movie. The middle of the book is a long slog from one recovered element to another. The genre is pretty much a kitchen sink mashup of high fantasy sword and sorcery, steampunk airships, horror, and paranormal creatures.  And then there are the fantasy names that somehow all sound the same, whether they are sorcerer, dwarf, hero, villain: Elsanar, Engus, Ensel, Erlek… Luckily, there is a players list at the front. (Bookmark it—you’ll need it to keep score.)

Despite the wealth of detailed description and the length of the book, there were some things that were glossed over. For example, somehow the evil savant Erlek’s knowledge of just where each of the elements was located and how to find them was brushed off as the fruits of long research. And because the cast was just so huge, we never really get to know most of the characters or their motivations.

I was hovering at three stars, but there were two things that made me go for four. First, the pace picked up as the two opposing quests raced to a confrontation. Second, and far more interesting, was the way the book sets up the inevitable clash between best friends Shanna—a passionate waif with a lifetime of abuse and resentment—and Aaron—a scholar trained to apply logic and science to solve problems. The question the book asks is whether passion or logic triumphs when friendship and love are the stakes.

I reviewed The Five Elements (The Alchemancer: Book One) by Scott Marlowe for Rosie’s Book Review Team.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Five Elements by @scottmarlowe

Today’s team review comes from Karen, she blogs at

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Karen chose to read and review The Five Elements by Scott Marlowe


My Opinion

This book introduces you to the Aaron and his friend Shanna. Aaron is shy, alchemy and studying are his world. Shanna is determined. I will not tell you more about the stories than shown in the Goodreads plot description. This would spoil the fun of reading this book yourself.

With The Five Elements, Scott Marlowe has created a thrilling first book in The Alchemancer series. The Five Elements tells Aaron and Shanna’s stories, each gripping in its own way. You get to know Aaron and Ensel Rhe Alon as well as Shanna and Erlek better and better with each chapter. Aaron is a very likable character and I held my breath along the way, feeling quite close to him and Shanna. I was drawn into the story – hoping to stay out of harm’s way. This is for you if you like fantasy and fast paced adventures.

The World of Uhl is addictive!  😀


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