Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Turning a 1 Star Lemon Into Lemonade

The Five Elements has a 1 star review. It's been out there for a while. I haven't tried to hide it. In fact, I called it out, especially since the person who left it gave away a fairly big spoiler in his review. I went back and forth with Amazon on it. The review's still there, unaltered, so you can guess how that went.

***** SPOILER WARNING ******

At this point I have to issue a spoiler warning. If you haven't read The Five Elements then I have to first ask, why not? One reviewer said "the pace is rapid and there's a dizzying array of twists and turns". Another called it "vibrant and entertaining" and said it "far surpassed my expectations". Also, "I had absolutely no idea what was going to happen next". It's a blend of pseudoscience, alchemy, and elemental magic with a varied cast of deep characters. It's usually $2.99 or less, too. You should go buy it now.

In any case, there are spoilers below. You've been warned.

***** SPOILER WARNING ******

I've decided to take this person's 1 star review:


And make something out of it by leaving the following comment for the reviewer:


You're reading that right. If this person contacts me I will let him (or her) decide if Shanna returns or not. This is an absolutely sincere offer. Things happen in The Nullification Engine such that it is a definite possibility. It's big, too. If she comes back she can potentially really tip the balance. She has a connection to the elementalists as well as the druids. Then there's the Five Elements. At the end of the book they were lost to the ocean, but if she comes back, would she still command their power? Guess we'll have to wait and see.

If aalleexx212 does not contact me, then oh well. Unfortunately, because of Amazon's inane review system I have no way to contact him (or her). So, if I don't hear, the decision will fall to yours truly.

5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements by reader Timmain


There's a new review for The Five Elements out on Amazon and Goodreads and it's 5 stars out of 5!

I love getting reviews, even if they aren't always flattering. They're feedback regardless of the number of stars. But it's always nice exhilarating getting a 5 out of 5.

In this one, reader Timmain, who also read and reviewed The Hall of the Wood, said this about her experience:

The Five Elements is an enveloping story that drags you in and doesn't let go. I enjoyed it immensely. The characters come to life and tell their story in a way that shows the authors passion for the subject matter. I myself do not have any background or knowledge of alchemy and yet the story is written such that I had no trouble following along and cheering the heroes on through every step of their journey. Well done Mr. Marlowe.

Thanks, Timmain!

She brings up a good point re the use of alchemy, which I would extend to all of the pseudoscience and steampunk-like devices and machines used in the novel: While I strive for some semblance of believability (in the context of it being fiction, of course), I never at any point let the story get bogged down in technical mumbo-jumbo. My job is to entertain, not teach. It's nice to see I accomplished that.

If you'd like to get your own copy of The Five Elements, you have some options:

  1. If you're a member of Goodreads, you can enter the currently ongoing giveaway and maybe you'll win a print copy.
  2. Buy the print edition on Amazon.
  3. Buy the Kindle edition on Amazon. I'm holding prices at $1.99 until the Goodreads giveaway ends on March 10.

5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements by reader Terra

The Five Elements 200x300Terra had some very nice things to say about The Five Elements on

As an epic fantasy adventure, Scott blends magical realism, elemental powers, alchemy and mechanics into a fascinating story.


What I didn't expect is to be sucked into the book to where I was forced to shirk all work, parental, and clean-up responsibilities just so I could find out what happened next in this world Scott Marlowe created!

It's gratifying to have anyone read my work. But to get an excellent review in the process? It's the ultimate form of validation.

Thanks, Terra!

3 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements

I was tempted to title this post "How to Deal with a Bad Review". Yes, I got a "bad" review. But the truth is that it's not a horrible review, just a bad one ('horrible' being 1 star or thereabouts). Once I'd taken the time to fully digest the reviewer's comments, I wasn't even that upset with it. The reviewer made some valid points, cited specific errors, and, all in all, provided a pretty level-headed assessment of his opinion. I really have no fault with any of it.

Here's what he had to say:


I'll admit: my first reaction was a mixture of disappointment and something to the effect, "Oh yeah, what do you know?" It's easy to become reactionary in these cases. I didn't act on my initial impulses, though. I'm professional enough to know the first thing one should do in a situation like this is nothing. Once I'd had some time to settle down, I re-read the comments. From there, it was an exercise in acceptance of the commenter's opinions and verification of the specific errors he pointed out. As to the former… everyone is entitled to their opinion and that's all there is to it. For the latter, he was right. There were some bonehead errors in there. I didn't proofread The Five Elements thoroughly enough myself. Neither did I have it professionally reviewed. That's something I may look into in the near future, especially as I get closer to releasing book 2 in the series. In the meantime, I corrected the errors and re-released all digital copies (across Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and this site).

I never expected to get all 5 star reviews. In fact, I fully expect to get some 1 star reviews. For now, though, I've got 1 5 star review, 1 4 star, and the one above. I think I'm doing ok still, and, thanks to Mr. Pemberton, the next reader that comes along won't have to deal with my mistakes (at least not those particular ones).

You can order The Five Elements from in Kindle or print format, or Barnes & Noble in Nook format.