ClichÃ?Â© though it may be, the old saying, “Never Judge a Book by its Cover” couldn’t hold more true for Elizabeth Redfern’s Auriel Rising. It was by a lucky whim that the book was picked up at all, something beyond the bright red and gold lettering said look at me and the story which unfolded between those garish covers was intriguing.
Set in the London of 1609, Auriel Rising explores the depths of the human soul in a way that is so subtle it is little short of genius. Wrapped in the language of alchemy, Ned Warriner stumbles across a letter that appears to be the recipe for the Philosopher’s Stone – the ultimate pursuit of alchemists, a magical stone that will turn absolutely anything into gold.
Several plots lay writhing beneath the currents of the story, tied up in political intrigue and plots to assassinate the historical King James, the meaning of love, and the pursuit of finding a purpose in existence. Each of the plots represent gleaming strands toward the heart of the story, golden threads that the reader follows eagerly to the end.
The dilemmas faced by the characters in this book shine in their truth; while set in an era some 400 years ago, their struggles are easily found in our own contemporaries. As The New York Times wrote, “The true aim of alchemy, we are told, was not the attainment of wealth, but the perfection of the human soul. In this intelligent novel, as in life, both remain elusive.” Through each of the characters met and truly experienced in this book, it is possible to see the search that each of us makes in our own ways to perfect ourselves in an ultimate way.
That said, there is much more to Auriel Rising than a metaphor of life. Anyone who enjoys a good detective story will find Ned Warriner’s search to discover the truth of the mystery behind the Auriel Letter intriguing. Those who love a historical novel will be at home within the pages of Auriel as well, seated in the real-life political drama that was London intrigue. Adventure, death, mystery, and a consuming search for gold, this book really does have it all.
One word of caution: don’t make up your mind about anything until you reach the last page. As in life, things are rarely what they seem – and nearly every opportunity we encounter contains the sting of a double-edge.