Azrieli Books (2020)
Reviewed by Rachel Dehning for Reader Views (1/2021)
“The Elixirist” by Avraham Azrieli is the page-turning adventure of a boy turned young man on his quest to find a dwarf who inhabited his dreams. Sall, a boy from Edom, has fallen in love with the high priest’s daughter. Sall believes that the fact that he is not big and rough is the reason why she sneers at him. Sall is also the son of the well-known healer in Edom, which is not something in which he takes pride. One day while working on the high priest’s feet, his daughter comes into the room to inspect, and overcome by her beauty, Sall falls back, knocking himself momentarily unconscious. During this time of unconsciousness, he dreams of an old dwarf who tells him that he cannot change the situation without changing oneself first, and a magic elixir has something to do with it all. This advice starts a chain of events for Sall when he leaves his comfortable lifestyle for the unknown in the wilderness on his way to find a dream-interpreter who can tell him how to win the heart of the one he loves, and ultimately how to change himself.
Sall’s journey takes place during the time of the Judges in the Christian Old Testament Bible. The sons of Israel have dispersed, and each has its designated land; this doesn’t mean that the tribes are always peaceful- no, at one point, Sall finds himself in the middle of a war between two of the tribes. Throughout his journey, he experiences theft, slavery, war, having oil poured over him and dragged from a donkey, rescue, miracles, recovery, witness to a murder, near drowning, and much more. This reviewer has more of a sensitive soul, so reading about some of the harsher things that Sall endured was difficult to read, but I loved how it all turned out. But I won’t give it away – readers will need to read and find out if Sall completes his quest to discover the meaning of his dream, the magic elixir, and if the main character gets the girl.
The theme that I got from this book is that everyone is capable of change. Sall was well-to-do with a loving and comfortable lifestyle at home, but internally, he was a peasant with his self-loathing. Throughout his trials, he learned much about himself and the world around him. He also learned to take pride in himself and his family’s work; it is stated in the story that you don’t “do” your work, but you “are” your work. Each new trial for him seemed to present a new way of viewing himself and the world and additionally presents some valuable material for self-reflection for the reader. The story is fast paced, with many things happening already within the first fifty pages. Books that center around events that happened in the Bible are entertaining since the author makes the events seem real, which is how Azrieli has presented this book. Of course, the author takes some artist liberties in regard to biblical information, but I loved reading this book and truly believe that anyone else who picks it up will enjoy it too!