The Alchemist’s Door
The nominal setting of this fantasy is 16th century Prague. Dr. John Dee, alchemist and sorcerer, as well as Queen Elizabeth I’s astrologer, is invited to Prague by King Rudolf of the Holy Roman Empire. As an apparent matter of historical fact, Rudolf summoned occultists to his court from all over Europe, including Dee and his associate, the medium Edward Kelly.
The book is light on historical detail and not particularly evocative of place and time. The introduction of actual explicit wizardly magic late in the opening of the book comes as rather a shock, since up to that point the reader has been led to expect a more traditional historical novel. Historical characters abound, such as Dee, Kelly, Elizabeth Bathory and Rabbi Judah Loew, all of whom interact rather unconvincingly with a conventional fantasy plot about a gate between dimensions which must be sealed. A competent picaresque fantasy in an underused historical setting, though less of interest to historical readers than to fantasy readers.