Perhaps to you the word “alchemy” conjures up images of sinister laboratories, black-robed sorcerers, or even quackery. Still, for thousands of years, the most accomplished intellectuals of their time, e.g., Isaac Newton (see my blog of April 6, 2016), studied alchemy earnestly. Even now its study continues through the Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry [SHAC], founded in 1935. Surely something studied for so many thousands of years is a serious business.
Until the nineteenth century, alchemists were hanged on gilded gallows dressed in grotesque gold robes. Otherwise they faced imprisonment and torture until they divulged their secrets. The promise of gold has always been a serious business.
During Miriam’s time, all alchemists wrote under the name of a deity, prophet, or philosopher from an earlier time perhaps to enhance the authenticity of their claims but certainly to shield themselves from persecution. Amid accusations of cheating their clients, destabilizing the currency, or worst yet, of financing the overthrow of the Empire, they could be arrested, tortured, and executed. The Romans certainly took the business of alchemy seriously.
No wonder in THE DEADLIEST HATE, Miriam ventures to Caesarea to trace an alchemical document. Can she discover its provenance while eluding assassins and protecting a secret of her own? Be serious. Find out now by clicking here.