The roller coaster continues, but this time the dips are punctuated by glimpses of the darker history that predates the current story. A more interest...moreThe roller coaster continues, but this time the dips are punctuated by glimpses of the darker history that predates the current story. A more interesting book than the previous two, smaller, more private battles, both within the characters and between the characters. The first two books were fun to read. This one is also fun, but is more deeply plotted.
We pick up where we left off: Dr. John Dee has torn Paris apart in his efforts to grab the immortal Nicholas Flamel and Sophie and Josh Newman, while Nicholas watches Paris' destruction and observes that the twins increasingly show signs of being the promised twins of legend. With them both awakened, Dr. Dee doesn't need Nicholas Flamel alive. He also needs to find the twins fast without letting them slip away again or his master will inflict terrible consequences upon him. Meanwhile, his partner in crime, Machiavelli, heads to the island of Alcatraz to finish off the Sorceress. His master's also concerned about the number of failures in regards to capturing the twins and the Flamels.
The twins and Flamel eventually join up with Palamedes, an immortal Saracen knight and friend of Comte de Saint Germain, and William Shakespeare, Nicholas' former apprentice. Palamedes takes the twins and company to King Gilgamesh so the twins could learn the magic of water, but Dee and his cohorts are never far behind. Meanwhile, Perennelle, Nicholas' wife, is trapped on Alcatraz where Dee imprisoned her. The Sphynx is hunting her, ghosts are haunting her, and now she has new terrifying creatures to deal with. Not including the 'split personalities', of course. But she's managed to free herself and has gathered a few unlikely allies to her defense.
I really like the character of Perenelle. (I'm not quite as sure about Nicholas.) She comes across as a good person who wants to the the right thing. She is smart and strong and is able to gain the respect, if not the love, of many of her enemies.
The first two were pure action adventure fantasy. This one begins to build a fantasy world that breathes and lives.
”The Alchemyst”, the first book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, introduced a wide-ranging group of historical figures who have...more”The Alchemyst”, the first book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, introduced a wide-ranging group of historical figures who have achieved immortality and are engaged in a present-day struggle for the fate of the world. This second entry, ”The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #2)” picks up exactly where the first left off.
Allied with the legendary Nicholas Flamel on the “good” side are teenage twins Sophie and Josh, who are supremely gifted but with powers that are untrained. Countering them is a new arch-villain, Niccolò Machiavelli, who, along with other figures from history and legend (Joan of Arc, the Comte de Saint-Germain, a trio of Valkyries, Nidhogg, Mars Ulthor, the spider Elder Areop-Enap, Dagon, plus legendary artifacts like the swords Excalibur and Clarent), swells the already impressive cast.
Plundering every imaginable culture of their heroes and heroines is a clever feat, sure to draw all manner of historically and mythologically-minded readers. One weakness starts to show through, however. In a six-book series such as this, each installment begins to feel like a lengthy, glorified chapter rather than its own book complete with a satisfying story arc and resolution. That said; this keeps the pace at an exciting and impeccably thought-out fantasy, well suited for those left in the lurch by the still-very-much-felt exeunt of the Harry Potter series.
This strikes just the right balance of action, fear, intensity, and hope for what is to come. The imagery of Paris and the places that exist beneath the city are creepy which adds to this story. Not frightening, but compelling. More obscure gods and mythological creatures once again reveal the author's depth of knowledge of his craft in this genre.
Scott uses a gigantic canvas for this riveting fantasy. The well-worn theme of saving the world from the forces of evil gets a fresh look here as he i...moreScott uses a gigantic canvas for this riveting fantasy. The well-worn theme of saving the world from the forces of evil gets a fresh look here as he incorporates ancient myth and legend and sets it firmly, pitch-perfect, in present-day California.
At the emotional center of the tale are contemporary 15-year-old twins, Josh and Sophie, who, it turns out, are potentially powerful magicians. They are spoken of in a prophecy appearing in the ancient Book of Abraham the Mage, all but two pages of which have been stolen by evil John Dee, alchemist and magician. The pursuit of the twins and Flamel by Dee and his allies to get the missing pages constitutes the book's central plot.
Amid all this exhilarating action, Scott keeps his sights on the small details of character and dialogue and provides evocative descriptions of people, mythical beings, and places. He uses as his starting point the figures of the historical alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife, who have found the secret of immortality, along with mythical beings, including the terrifying Scottish crow-goddess, the Morrigan; the three-faced Greek Hekate; the powerful Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet; and Scathach, a legendary Irish woman warrior and vegetarian vampire. I have always been a fan of mythology so this is right up my alley. I love that the author has taken many of the myths from the world over and combined them. What an original and interesting idea. I am also learning about myths that I had never heard of.
A skillful weave of history and legend, the first installment of this story leaves few ancient myths unexplained--The Greek legend Icarus, the Great London Fire, the Viking god Odin, vampires, the Black Plague of Europe, the Island of Atlantis, the Irish Potato Famine, martial arts, witches, the Philosopher's Stone, and the secret of eternal life--amazingly, though, none of them feels out of place. They help transform this fast-paced rollercoaster of magic, mystery and myth into a new legend that explains the stories of the past and holds the secret to all the ones to come.
The lack of characterization in certain respects can probably put off a lot of readers. While the characters are not cardboard cutouts, their personalities and histories are not endlessly filled in with details supplied by the story. A reader will have to look hard to figure out who Josh, Sophie, and the Flamels are underneath all of the things that are happening in the story.
I’m just wondering, if Flamel needs to get the elixir brewed--but he needs the book--my question is: after so many years, hasn't he memorized the recipe?!
Since their mother's death, six years ago, 12-year-old Sadie Kane has lived in London with her maternal grandparents while her older brother, 14-year-...moreSince their mother's death, six years ago, 12-year-old Sadie Kane has lived in London with her maternal grandparents while her older brother, 14-year-old Carter, has traveled the world with their father, a renowned African American Egyptologist. In London on Christmas Eve for a rare evening together, Carter and Sadie accompany their dad to the British Museum, where he blows up the Rosetta Stone in summoning an Egyptian god. Unleashed, the vengeful god overpowers and entombs him, but Sadie and Carter escape.
Initially determined to rescue their father, their mission expands to include understanding their hidden magical powers as the descendants of the pharaohs and taking on the ancient forces bent on destroying mankind.
The first-person narrative shifts between Carter and Sadie, giving the novel an intriguing dual perspective made more complex by their biracial heritage and the tension between the siblings, who barely know each other at the story's beginning. The text is presented as the transcript of an audio recording done by both children. Riordan creates two distinct and realistic voices for the siblings. He has a winning formula, but this book goes beyond the formulaic to present a truly original take on Egyptian mythology.
I've always been a big fan of Egyptian mythology so this book was right up my alley. I thought I was familiar with most Egyptian gods, but Riordan had me! It's high time that Egyptian Mythology gets its time to shine. As part of the natural flow of the story, "The Red Pyramid" discusses things like Demotic, a written language halfway between hieroglyphs and Greek which existed during the Ptolemaic dynasty, when the Greeks ruled Egypt. You could almost learn the equivalent of a semester of Egyptian History just by paying attention as you read.
At the outset of this fast-paced tale by Riordan it would seem that Percy Jackson is just another New York kid diagnosed with ADHD, who has good inten...moreAt the outset of this fast-paced tale by Riordan it would seem that Percy Jackson is just another New York kid diagnosed with ADHD, who has good intentions, a nasty stepfather, and a long line of schools that have rejected him. The revelation of his status as half-blood offspring of one of the Greek gods is nicely packaged, and it's easy to believe that Mount Olympus, in modern times, has migrated to the 600th floor of the Empire State Building (the center of Western civilization) while the door to Hades can be found at DOA Recording Studio, somewhere in LA.
With his new friends, a disguised satyr, and the half-blood daughter of Athena, Percy sets out across the country to rectify a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Poseidon has been accused of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt, and unless Percy can return the bolt, humankind is doomed. Along the way they must cope with the Furies, Medusa, motorcycle thug Ares, and various other immortals.
The parallels to Harry Potter are frequent and obvious. Even on the basis of this short blurb you can see there are a lot of superficial similarities to the Potter books--an orphan, with supernatural powers, who has two friends (one brainy girl and one geeky sidekick), several envious rival students. He goes to a special school and learns he is highly skilled at the school's favorite sport. He is personally charged with a quest that, should he fail, will result in the ruin of the world. But because Riordan is faithful to the original Greek myths, it gives him credit for originality. Add to that that I'm someone who grew up reading Hamilton's and Bulfinch's Greek Mythology books.
Title The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) Author Rick Riordan Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
In Levine's charming tale "Ella Enchanted", the use of a confidante, the appeal of a rebel, and an atmosphere of the surreal coexisting with the real...moreIn Levine's charming tale "Ella Enchanted", the use of a confidante, the appeal of a rebel, and an atmosphere of the surreal coexisting with the real are effectively used to create a character and a story that are both appealing and engaging.
Ella is introduced immediately in the book who, as a baby, was cursed by a fairy with the "gift" of obedience. This curse forces her to do whatever somebody tells her. Throughout her constant dilemma though, Ella has a friend and confidante--Mandy. Mandy is Ella's cook and subsequently her fairy god mother. When Ella goes off to finishing school Mandy gives Ella a magic book that comforts Ella and keeps them connected. Ella's thoughts are revealed to be smart, funny, and charismatic- a character with whom the audience can connect. Through having a confidante, Ella is able to have an ally against all the evil that is going on around her. Mandy doesn't completely shield Ella from harm, but lets her deal with life independently coming to her aid when necessary, transforming Ella into an independent character yet also one who knows when she needs the assistance of others.
The first-person narrative is immediately endearing, capturing the personality of the main character in just a few lines. All the major characters are drawn and handled with care. Ella becomes endearing to our eyes as the girl who never simply succumbs to her fate--rather works tirelessly to try and change it. Her rebellion to her obedience also attests to the excellence of this book as it creates a situational irony where the reader knows that she will have to obey and succumb, but they never stop wishing that maybe this time or maybe after this next order she will finally have the strength to break the curse. Her strength is present throughout the entirety of the novel and it is that drive that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat--constantly wishing that Ella will finally be able to, through force of will, be able to break the curse that has been laid upon her. Her resistance to her obedience also makes her an entertaining character, one who constantly surprises the reader by how willful she can be even after being put into the worst of circumstances.
On top of being an excellently executed book, "Ella Enchanted" has the advantage of being thoroughly likable. The "Cinderella" story is familiar enough that we can delight in details before they become integral to the story, as when the reader discovers that Ella's feet are smaller than most humans (and we can anticipate the final scene with fitting on a shoe that fits only her). And most people certainly aren't strangers to the creatures, like centaurs, and elves, and gnomes, and of course, fairies. Yet Levine allows herself enough leeway that she creates a completely new world, with such details as a stepsister who loves money but can't count very well and a suitor for Ella, picked by her greedy father. And we've all read about how wonderful it is that Ella herself is a spunky, three-dimensional character, complete with frustrations and fears and the determination to overcome both.
Title Ella Enchanted Author Gail Carson Levine Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
"Angelology" is not a Biblical-based novel, it is an adventure in an imaginary world. It combines angels and ancient myths and interweaves them into a...more"Angelology" is not a Biblical-based novel, it is an adventure in an imaginary world. It combines angels and ancient myths and interweaves them into a contemporary setting.
This novel is a struggle between good and evil, between Nephilim (angels of the earth) and Human beings. It is a story of magic, and struggle, and hope. We watch as Evangeline, who grew up in a convent, encounters a world and a life she never knew existed. We are introduced to that world with her, and find ourselves suspending our disbelief as we watch the story unfold.
Sister Evangeline is leading a quiet life of prayer in a convent situated in Milton, New York, when she receives a letter from Paul Verlaine asking for access to the convent's archives. With this one request, Evangeline and Verlaine set off a dangerous chain of events that are connected to the secret society of Angelologists, those who have made it their lives' work to study and defeat humankind's oldest enemy -- the fallen angels.
The Society of Angelologists go back many generations, claiming as its members, Sir Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Milton, of course. They are scholars of theology, scientists, men and women of the cloth who throughout the years have waged a secret war against the Nephilim, the evil offspring of the fallen angels who pass as humans. The darkest periods of human history, such as the Inquisition and the Nazis' rise to power, are attributed to the machinations of the half-human, half-angel Nephilim. However, some of the Nephilim are falling prey to a degenerative disease, and they have become desperate to find a cure.
For many years now, the Angelologists and Nephilim alike have been searching for a hidden, fabled treasure from the Archangel Michael himself, which, if the Nephilim were to obtain it would be their instrument to unlimited power on earth and also cure their mysterious wasting disease. Within the forgotten archives of Sister Evangeline's convent lies the key to its location. From Bulgaria, to Paris, to New York -- the Angelologists race to find this precious artifact before the Nephilim.
In incredible detail, Trussoni tells a believable tale, a tale that pulls you into the very center of the struggle, one that is 3/4 adventure and 1/4 fantasy. I found myself intrigued as I met the characters and watched the story weave itself together.
The story is engaging, fast-paced, and original. The characters are intriguing, believable, and of increasing complexity as the story develops. The settings and time periods range from Paris in the 1940's, to the mountains of Bulgaria, to modern-day New York. Whether in a convent or a cave; whether seeing events through the eyes of a bewildered little girl or a prideful centuries-old Nephilim -- you feel you are there and it feels real.
Title Angelology Author Danielle Trussoni Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
What would you be willing to do, to undergo, in order to have your Heart's Desire?
"You and your firstborn child and his or her firstborn child...It's...moreWhat would you be willing to do, to undergo, in order to have your Heart's Desire?
"You and your firstborn child and his or her firstborn child...It's a gift that will last as long as I live." "And what would that be, sir?" "Your Heart's Desire."
I love "Stardust"! This is THE fairy tale meant for adults. It retains the fantasy that you'd want yourself immersed in: a world that is so much older than what we know, where everything is possible & where you're only bounded by your own unimaginativeness.
Here you meet a refreshing take on the creatures of Faerie: The wood-nymph who became a tree with copper leaves that rustle prettily; a small, hairy creature in floppy clothes who proved to be an invaluable member of the Fellowship of the Castle (I do wish Gaiman expounded on this); the exotic bird/Lady Una with her deep violet eyes & mysterious aura ("I gain my freedom on the day the moon loses her daughter, if that occurs in the week when two Mondays come together"); Tristran Thorn, the most unlikely of heroes who in the end realizes what is truly his Heart's Desire; and of course, the fallen Star, Yvaine ("the way she glitters and shines, upon occasion, in the darkness").
My heart twinge in sadness at what the star must've felt when she thought she had lost the heart she gave to a boy: "I'm called Yvaine," said the star. "So," she said, "you are Victoria Forrester. Your fame precedes you." "The wedding, you mean?" said Victoria, and her eyes shone with pride and delight. "A wedding, is it?" asked Yvaine.
This book features an interview with Neil Gaiman on how he was inspired to write “Stardust” as well as a separate story, “Wall: A Prologue.” Been hunting for this edition for quite some time now, having disliked the current movie tie-in covers currently published.
Title Stardust Author Neil Gaiman Reviewed By Purplycookie(less)
"Stories are webs, interconnected strand to strand, and you follow each story to the center, because the center is the end. Each person is a strand of...more"Stories are webs, interconnected strand to strand, and you follow each story to the center, because the center is the end. Each person is a strand of story."
"Fat Charlie" Nancy leads a life of comfortable workaholism in London, with a stressful agent job he doesn't like much, and a pleasant fiancée, Rosie. When Charlie learns of the death of his estranged father in Florida, he attends the funeral and learns two facts that turn his well-ordered existence upside-down: that his father was a human form of Anansi, the African trickster god, and that he has a brother, Spider, who has inherited some of their father's godlike abilities.
Spider comes to visit Charlie and gets him fired from his job, steals his fiancée, and is instrumental in having him arrested for embezzlement and suspected of murder. When Charlie resorts to magic to get rid of Spider, who's selfish and unthinking rather than evil, things begin to go very badly for just about everyone. Charlie fights back with assistance from other gods, and that's when the real trouble begins.
I thought "Anansi Boys" started off a little slowly. Fat Charlie was such a drab anti-hero, but I found myself wondering how this guy was going to become interesting, because I genuinely liked the character despite his awkwardness. Gaiman does a fantastic job pacing this story. We get sucked into the eccentricities of Charlie's brother, Spider, right along with Charlie. I found myself getting frustrated with Spider, much as I imagine Charlie was.
By the second half of the story, you could see the brothers' relationship changing. They were feeding off each other in a way, taking on characteristics of each other. Brilliantly done.
Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is mu...moreShadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired.
Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Gaiman tries to keep the magical and the mundane evenly balanced, but he is clearly more interested in the activities of his human protagonists: Shadow's poignant personal moments and the tale's affectionate slices of small town life are much better developed than the aimless plot, which bounces Shadow from one episodic encounter to another in a design only the gods seem to know.
Gaiman's protagonist always seems to get shoved, manipulated or dragged around in the story without ever exhibiting much control. Like in this book: eventually it becomes clear that Shadow is the hero because of his remarkable capabilities, but emotionally and mentally, he remains passive, directionless and often--whether literally or figuratively--completely in the dark.
This aspect of the book, while very effective for those readers familiar with various mythologies of the world, is sometimes over laden with references to events and symbols of the various deities. It's admirable to include such a wide variety of worldly figures, but somewhat detracting from the story if as a reader, too much extra research is necessary to understand the associations. The stories range from African gods to creatures from Oman to a woman from Cornwall, England who worships piskies.
The problem is that I was expecting an epic. The book's subject matter, length, awards, and reviews all scream epic. I was expecting something deep, meaningful, and memorable. Gaiman's writing talent teased me nearly all the way through that this was indeed what I was reading, yet it never quite delivered. Instead of a memorable epic, what I finally discovered in American Gods was a well-written and enjoyable pulp novel.