Why did I love this book?
So many fantasy worlds repeat familiar settings, characters, and types of magic. Middlegame delights because it is so different. I couldn’t encapsulate all of it in a single sentence, but to peel back some of the weird layers: alchemists give universal concepts like Good and Evil semi-human forms in a race to control them and attain godhood. This ties into the theme of storytelling because McGuire reframes historic literary greats like Mark Twain as alchemists, who are intentionally creating and changing the nature of the world with their books. If that isn’t a powerful image of a storyteller, I don’t know what is.