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The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

The Alchemyst (2007)

by Michael Scott

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (1)

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English (147)  Dutch (2)  German (2)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  All languages (154)
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ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

The 14th century alchemyst Nicholas Flamel has the secret codex containing the recipe for the elixir of life hanging around his neck. For centuries, Dr. John Dee has been hunting for him because he wants that book. Dee has finally traced Flamel to his bookstore in 21st century California. He busts in, gets all but the last two pages of the book, and kidnaps Flamel’s wife. Now the world is in danger because Dee plans to bring the dark Elder gods to power and they will enslave humans. When twins Josh and Sophie witness the crime, they get dragged into the mess. Along the way, they learn that, OMG, there’s a prophecy about twins saving the world!

The most intriguing aspect of The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is the overall worldview that Michael Scott has developed. His elder god mythology accounts for all the other known pantheons, numerous archeological discoveries, various myths and legends (e.g., vampires, ghosts, Atlantis), historical events (e.g., the flood, the great fire of London, the Irish famine), real historical figures, and even fictional characters such as Frankenstein. I’ve seen this done before and I think it’s a fun idea and has tons of educational potential for its YA audience, but I tend to become gradually annoyed as the author continues to add more and more to it until it just gets messy. I groaned out loud when Excalibur showed up and then nearly turned off the audiobook when the Witch of Endor had a New York accent and claimed to have given humans both fire and the alphabet. I have to admit, though, that the thought of the Morrigan shopping on eBay is pretty funny.

Unfortunately, this world-building seems to be the main intent of the book, so the plot and characterization suffer. The characters are only superficially developed. We’re told a lot about each of them, but by the end of the book it feels more like we’ve read their biographies than that we really got to know them. The plot mostly consists of running away, hiding, discovering prophecies, and suddenly gaining magical powers. It’s predictable and lacks intensity and excitement. Instead, there’s lots of dialogue and repetitive explanations designed to incorporate all of those disparate mythological and historical elements into the worldview.

The plot has other problems — people just don’t behave reasonably. It was hard to take The Alchemyst seriously from the very beginning when, after centuries of hiding the codex from Dr. Dee and after telling him it had been destroyed, Nicholas Flamel whips it out so he can consult it to cast a spell at Dee... What? You’ve had that little book around your neck for 600 years and you didn’t bother to learn the spell you need to cast against the enemy who’s been chasing you for that long? And then you whip it out right in front of him when you know he’s stronger than you? Unforgiveable.

The Alchemyst is likely to be enjoyable for YA readers who like learning about mythology and history — they’ll learn a lot and perhaps their zeal will make them less prone to notice the shallow plot and characters. Adults with full bookshelves will probably be less satisfied. I read the audiobook version of The Alchemyst and found that the performance of the narrator, Denis O'Hare, made this book bearable for me. His delightful accents and inflections, and his genuinely serious performance, were entertaining. I hope to read more from him in the future ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
Immortal Nick Fleming which is his secret identity name, who's real name is Nicholas Flemel has been trying to protect a book that was named the codex. This book is extremely important and powerful. But if Nicholas failed to protect the very important codex and let the dark elders and other bad guys to get it the the world would be destroyed. Nickolas Flemel must take the codex back from the the dark elders. He goes on adventures trying to get the codex back with twins Josh and Sophie. There is a lot of magic, sorcery, and dark magic in this book. As well as some odd things like men made out of clay.

This wasn't my favorite book. But, it wasn't that bad of a book. There was, like i said, a lot of magic, sorcery, and dark magic. This book, as well as many other books was slow at the beginning. I might read the rest of the series. But I am not so sure just yet. Other people might like it, but i just wasn't that into the book. ( )
  NoahJ.B1 | Mar 20, 2014 |
Very fun read! Non-stop action from the first chapter to the last page. Wish I had the second book in hand-- I would have started it right away! ( )
  TeenSpirit | Feb 26, 2014 |
This is the first book in a series, which is yet unfinished at the time I write this review.

The series is similar to the Harry Potter books and the Percy Jackson series which preceded it. The plot contains many stock elements for the genre. There is a prophecy on which the future of the world rests, involving the young people who are the book's protagonists. Aforementioned young people discover they have powers they never dreamed of, and they realize there is a whole level of reality they never knew, coexisting with and clandestinely affecting the history and events of the world they know. The need to be initiated into this reality and to learn to use their power to save mankind from dark, evil forces which are awakening and seeking to take over the world. This is not to say that it is a clone of the other series; the author, Michael Scott, has his own approach and flavor. Just don't expect to be very surprised by the main structure and plot elements.

On the level of content, I find Scott fairly original in the particular way he works the mythologies together and ties them in with the contemporary world. Sometimes he may be a bit too contemporary for his own good; at times he references technologies and figures of pop culture that will be dated for readers in a decade or two, although they might make it easier for today's young readers to identify with the characters.

Stylistically, I enjoy the writing, although the author tends to reuse some phrases a bit too much for my taste; things like, "they can kill you... or worse", or "they see humani as slaves, or food." They are effective the first or second time but get a little old. There is some humor, but I don't find it as effective as the comic relief in some of the Harry Potter books or the Percy Jackson series. The tone of these books is different, so I don't expect the same amount or kind of humor; but I don't think Michael Scott is quite as good at being funny when he wants to be as are Riordan and Rowling.

However, the characters are likable and, as the story evolves through this and the second book (which is as far as I have read at this writing), they grow in depth and complexity. Scott is good at getting the reader involved in a scene, then leaving you hanging at the end of the chapter so you almost have to keep reading. Throughout this book and the sequel there are fairly clear distinctions between right and wrong, and there is no morally objectionable content. Comparing this series (from what I've read so far) with Harry Potter and Percy Jackson (for those who are concerned about such things), I'd say this is morally the least ambiguous of the three. (Not that I object to either of the others, but they have more morally ambiguous behavior either by the protagonists or as key plot elements, and that concerns some parents.)

In short, Book 1 of "The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel" is not spectacular, but it's fun reading and is needed to lead into [b:The Magician|2402971|The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #2)|Michael Scott|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1256027624s/2402971.jpg|3216911], which in my opinion brings the series up a notch or two.

Some Christians object to books of this kind because of the role that magic plays in them. Much has been written about this on both sides of the argument - those who think that Christians should shun such literature, and others who have not objections at all. The topic merits a nuanced and more lengthly treatment. To summarize my personal opinion briefly, I think there are two basic things to take into account. First, not all fantasy literature is created equal. Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis are more the ideal, in that their work incorporates a Christian morality and worldview. However, a book doesn't have to be ideal in order to be acceptable. What someone should or should not read also depends on their subjective disposition. That's my second point: I think that, as long as readers both young and old have common sense, a sound grasp of the difference between reality and fiction, and - ideally - basic catechesis, there is no problem for them to read fantasy novels that involve the use of magic. They should just understand that when it comes to magic they should "not try this at home". Again, this topic is too complex to deal with adequately in one paragraph, but I think these are safe guidelines. ( )
  mehjg | Feb 6, 2014 |
I think it's really cool that some of these people really existed. This book prompted me to do research on Nicholas Flamel and his wife. ( )
  Emelymac | Jan 15, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 147 (next | show all)
The immortal Michael Scott, John Dee and the dark elders have been fighting for a long time for the most magical book ever created. The book of Abraham the mage or the codex. If john Dee and the dark elders has the book in their hands it would be chaos. Josh and Sophie Newman are the twins from the prophecy so that means that they are the saviors of the earth. Josh's aura is pure gold and Sophie's aura is pure silver. while josh and Sophie had gone to hekates shadow realm to be awakened (to use power from your auras). Sophie and josh had to be awakened so Sophie had gone first and as the ending of Sophie's awakening john Dee had started war in hekates shadow realm. hekate had created her shadow realm so her shadow realm was destroyed so she was destroyed with it. hekate had gone too protect her realm without awakening josh and through out the book josh was mad at Nicholas flamel because Sophie's senses were hurting her. After hekates shadow realm got destroyed they went to scatty's, mother the witch of Ojai. john Dee almost gets josh to go on the side with the dark elders but Sophie had convinced him not too. they had teleported to Paris through a leygate to find someone to train Sophie and hopefully awaken josh.
added by Isaiahl.b4 | editisaiah times, isaiahlb.4 (May 1, 2014)

» Add other authors (16 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Michael Scottprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Gulik, Henny vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Een magisch boek wordt gestolen. De twee die één zijn zullen de wereld redden....of vernietigen
For Claudette, of course
iamque opus exegi
First words
I am legend.
I want you to remember that everything you know—or think you know—about myth and legend is not necessarily false, nor is it entirely true. At the heart of every legend there is a grain of truth. I suspect that much of your knowledge comes from movies and TV. Xena and Dracula have a lot to answer for. All minotaurs are not evil, the Gorgon Medusa did not turn every man to stone, not all vampires are blood drinkers, the Were clans are a proud and ancient race.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0385736002, Paperback)

He holds the secret that can end the world.

The truth: Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on September 28, 1330. Nearly 700 years later, he is acknowledged as the greatest Alchemyst of his day. It is said that he discovered the secret of eternal life.

The records show that he died in 1418.

But his tomb is empty.

The legend: Nicholas Flamel lives. But only because he has been making the elixir of life for centuries. The secret of eternal life is hidden within the book he protects—the Book of Abraham the Mage. It's the most powerful book that has ever existed. In the wrong hands, it will destroy the world. That's exactly what Dr. John Dee plans to do when he steals it. Humankind won't know what's happening until it's too late. And if the prophecy is right, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to save the world as we know it.

Sometimes legends are true.

And Sophie and Josh Newman are about to find themselves in the middle of the greatest legend of all time.

From the Hardcover edition.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:31:20 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

While working at pleasant but mundane summer jobs in San Francisco, fifteen-year-old twins, Sophie and Josh, suddenly find themselves caught up in the deadly, centuries-old struggle between rival alchemists, Nicholas Flamel and John Dee, over the possession of an ancient and powerful book holding the secret formulas for alchemy and everlasting life.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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