Alchemy of Souls is set in a fictional country where a troublemaking young man (Lee Jae Wook) from a noble family with a complicated secret surrounding his birth becomes the student of his servant (Jung So Min) who is actually a skilled assassin whose soul has been trapped in a weak body.
Jung So Min plays Mu Deok. She was previously the skilled assassin Nak Su, but just before her death, she was able to move her soul into Mu Deok’s body. Now trapped without her magic powers in a weak body, she decides to train her master Jang Uk in hopes that she will one day regain her power.
Lee Jae Wook is Jang Uk. He is the son of a powerful mage, but a dark secret has led to him being outcast and unable to use magic. When he meets Mu Deok, he sees it as an opportunity to change his fate as he begins to train under her guidance.
Park Jin (Yoo Joon Sang) is the head of the powerful faction of Songrim and has a close relationship with Jang Uk. Kim Do Ju (Oh Na Ra) is a longtime servant of Jang Uk and is a sort of mother figure to him.
Jin Mu (Jo Jae Yoon) is the head of the organization which Mu Deok previously belonged to as Nak Su. He has many evil plans that involve the swapping of souls on a large scale. Crown Prince Go Won (Shin Seung Ho) is a strong and arrogant man who has trained under Jin Mu without knowing everything going on behind closed doors.
Seo Yul (Hwang Min Hyun) is a friend of Jang Uk who develops his own connection to Mu Deok. Park Dang Gu (Yoo In Soo) is another friend who brings humor and positivity to any situation.
Well, I have to say right off the bat that I loved Alchemy of Souls! This kind of drama is my bread and butter. It has a little bit of everything with history, fantasy, action, romance, heart, and humor. And it was a fun and thrilling ride from start to finish!
Right away, we are dropped into a world of magic and mages with epic battles. We get some nice world building as we learn how everything operates as well as who the key players are.
I thought that the different clans were explained well as were the core conflicts at the center of the story. The magic that is the “alchemy of souls” is central to the plot, and it makes for a lot of fun twists and turns. I love the concept of soul swapping and all of the crazy dynamics it introduces into a story.
The pacing of the drama was fantastic all the way through with several nice cliffhanger endings to the episodes. I was always interested to find out what would happen next and was never bored.
There were constantly new plot developments to keep things intriguing as well as a nice serving of action to add even more intensity. Even though there were plenty of serious and heavy moments, there was also a good deal of humor that helped lighten things up. I was able to get thoroughly lost in the world of Alchemy of Souls and enjoyed every minute.
Alchemy of Souls boasted a huge cast of characters. All of the characters were important and served a purpose in the story. I loved all of the many interesting relationship dynamics that were at play as well as the individual character journeys.
There are a lot of villains floating around this world too. They are varying levels of bad but always interesting. I particularly enjoyed the more over-the-top villains, especially our main baddie Jin Mu. He always had a plan to maneuver himself into a more powerful position and excelled at not being caught. He was a fun one!
Alchemy of Souls was a big budget drama. We see a lot of impressive special effects and CGI that help add to the magical feel. The costumes were beautiful too. Since this is a fantasy in a fictional setting, the traditional Korean dress we usually see is embellished and added to which gives the drama a very unique flair.
The sets were also gorgeous with so much beautiful scenery to enjoy. A nice soundtrack rounds things out with several songs that really add to the emotional impact of the drama.
Let’s take a look at our central characters of Mu Deok and Jang Uk. This duo has a very interesting and complicated relationship. They are master and servant, master and pupil, and lovers. This makes for a unique dynamic between them.
I enjoyed seeing the different aspects of their relationship explored. They start by using each other to gain their own power, but through that, an intense bond develops. I didn’t find this couple particularly swoony, but I was very invested in them as characters as well as the powerful bond they shared.
Now, this is where the show had a couple of small negatives. Our main couple of Jang Uk and Mu Deok felt a little flat in the romance department. I think a lot of it came down to the fact that they had a very straight forward and matter of fact sort of relationship.
Many of their conversations were kind of robotic, and we just didn’t get to see those emotions that often. They were shown in subtle ways most of the time with an occasionally bigger display. But for me, the romantic part of their relationship was a bit so-so.
Which is quite the contrast to the portrayal of Mu Deok with our second lead Seo Yul. While their actual interactions were pretty simple, their backstory was heavily played up. It got the full treatment with lots of emotion, great storytelling, and beautiful music.
Their moments had a lot of build up to create those heart-fluttering feels. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer from Second Lead Syndrome, but I did greatly enjoy how their story was portrayed.
I would have loved to have seen more of those kind of moments between Mu Deok and Jang Uk, but I definitely relished them when we got them.
The ending of the series also felt rushed. Those last couple of episodes had a lot of big plot developments and much of it was sped through. I really wish more time could have been spent to explore the events more in depth and let them sink in.
A few of the plot developments were also a bit convenient and you just kind of had to roll with it. Thankfully, everything else was so good that these things didn’t really bother me or affect my enjoyment in any way.
Also, keep in mind that this was considered a season 1, and everything is not wrapped up at the end. We will have to wait a bit for season 2 to come out to finish up our story.
So for me, Alchemy of Souls was an amazing ride from start to finish. There were so many interesting characters and a great story with a unique flair. Magic, action, heart, and romance made for such a fun experience. I was engaged and fully absorbed into the world. Alchemy of Souls is a high fantasy blockbuster that was truly fantastic.
My Rating: 9/10
Check out more Korean Drama Reviews.