“I have been many things in my time: a physician and a cook, a bookseller and a soldier, a teacher of languages and chemistry, both an officer of the...more “I have been many things in my time: a physician and a cook, a bookseller and a soldier, a teacher of languages and chemistry, both an officer of the law and a thief. But before all these I was an alchemyst. I was THE Alchemyst.” - from the Day Booke of Nicholas Flamel, Alchemyst
Thursday, May 31st started out like any other day for Josh and Sophie Newman. Staying with an elderly aunt in San Francisco for the summer, the fifteen-year-old twins had been lucky enough to find jobs (Josh at a bookstore and Sophie at a tea and coffee shop) across the street from one another. That’s where they were on this previously ordinary Thursday - at work. Josh, in fact, was in the basement of The Small Book Shop (owned by Nick and Perry Fleming) when a horrid smell of sulfur, overlaid with the sharp tang of peppermint, became so overpowering that he had to dash up into the shop for some fresh air. What he saw when he popped his head out of the basement hatch was clearly impossible, but nevertheless happening right before his eyes. Nick Fleming and a small dapper man in a grey suit were hurling balls of energy at one another. In other words, they were battling with magic.
Sophie was across the street at the coffee shop when Dr. John Dee, for that’s who the small dapper man was, and his three clay henchman paid their call on The Small Book Shop. Perry Fleming had just come into The Coffee Cup when they both caught the strong odor of rotten eggs drifting across the street. That’s was right about when all of the windows blew out of the bookshop. Naturally, Perry told Sophie to stay put while she went to investigate. Equally naturally, Sophie followed close behind when Perry dashed across the street. It took Dr. Dee just about four minutes to overpower the Flemings and the Newman twins and completely destroy the bookstore - stealing an ancient and very powerful book and kidnapping Perry Fleming in the process.
Left in the wreckage, Nick tried to fob the twins off with a weak story about a gas explosion causing the damage and giving them hallucinations, but soon the truth came out. Dr. Dee, once the Court Magician to Elizabeth I, is an alchemist, sorcerer, necromancer and magician. He is also over 500 years old and one of the most dangerous men in the world, for Dr. Dee serves the Dark Elders (powerful beings once revered as gods who populated the earth before humans), and they seek to wipe human existence from the earth. The Flemings, it turns out, are really Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. For over 600 years they have kept the magic Codex safe and out of the hands of Dee and those he serves. With the Codex (or most of it any way - Josh managed to wrest two pages from the book) in Dee’s hands, the Flemings will be unable to brew the elixir that provides their immortality. Within a month, Nicholas and Perenelle will wither and die and nothing will stop Dee from hunting the twins down and claiming the final two pages of the Codex, pages the Dark Elders will need to regain control of the earth, reducing humans to slaves - or food.
Now it’s a race against time as well as a battle against evil. Josh and Sophie learn that they are believed to be the twins of prophecy mentioned in the Codex - and that they will be responsible for either the world’s salvation, or its destruction. Aided by the Warrior Maid Scathach, Flamel must protect the twins while he seeks an Elder willing to awaken their magic. Only then will they be able to prevail against Dee. Only then will Flamel be able to rescue his beloved Perenelle.
The Alchemyst is the fist in Michael Scott’s projected six book series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. A renowned expert in mythologies and legends, Mr. Scott has used his expertise, as well as a strong dose of history, to create a fantasy world of great depth and intricacy. Along with real life historical figures (like Dee and the Flamels) and the gods, goddesses and heroes of many cultures (including Scathach, Hekate, The Morrigan and the Witch of Endor) Mr. Scott has managed to include creatures such as Golems, Dire Crows, gargoyles, vampires and even a sphinx in this rich and thrilling adventure. It’s obvious that dark days are ahead for the Flamels and the Newman twins, but it’s equally obvious that reading about those dark days is going to be a blast. (less)
“We are now in Paris, the city of my birth, the city where I first discovered the Codex and began the long quest to translate it. That journey ultimat...more “We are now in Paris, the city of my birth, the city where I first discovered the Codex and began the long quest to translate it. That journey ultimately led me to discover the existence of the Elder Race and revealed the mystery of the philosopher’s stone and finally the secret of immortality. I love this city. It holds many secrets and is home to more than one human immortal and ancient Elder. Here, I will find a way to Awaken Josh’s powers and continue Sophie’s education. I must. For their sakes - and for the continuance of the human race.” - from the Day Booke of Nicholas Flamel, Alchemyst
Two days have passed since fifteen-year-old twins Josh and Sophie Newman set off for their summer jobs on an ordinary Thursday. Just two days, but they have been the two most extraordinary days either twin will ever live - filled with danger and magic and mythical beings so unbelievable they stagger the mind. It started when a small, dapper man - the powerful human immortal Dr. John Dee, as it turns out - showed up at the bookstore where Josh worked. Before a quarter of an hour had passed, Dr. Dee had triumphed in a battle of magics with Josh’s boss, Nick Fleming - who is, in reality, the immortal human Alchemyst Nicholas Flamel - completely destroyed the bookstore, kidnapped Nick’s wife and stolen all but two pages of the Book of Abraham the Mage.
Also known as the Codex, Abraham’s book is an ancient and dangerous book of spells, prophecies and magical formulae. Dr. Dee and the Dark Elders he serves wish to use the Codex to bring the Elder Race back to preeminence on the earth, making humanity slaves at best, a food supply at worst. Luckily, the two pages Josh managed to tear out of the book before Dee stole it are the two most vital to the Dark Elders. Without the spell of Final Summoning contained on those two pages, the Dark Elders’ plans cannot go forward.
Convinced that Sophie and Josh are the twins of prophecy - those Abraham said would either save the world or destroy it - Nicholas Flamel has enlisted the aid and protection of the Warrior Maid, Scathach, as he seeks those who can Awaken the twins’ powers and instruct them in the five elemental magics. Sophie was Awakened by Hekate in the Elder’s California Shadow Realm, but unfortunately, Dee attacked before Josh could be Awakened. After visiting the Witch of Endor in Ojai (who taught Sophie the Magic of Air and also gave her the gift of all of her memories and knowledge) the beleaguered Nicholas, Scathach, Josh and Sophie have fled to Paris, the city of Flamel’s birth and the home of Dr. Dee’s dangerous ally, the human immortal Niccolo Machiavelli.
In just two days, it seems that Josh and Sophie have gone from being ordinary 21st century teens to having their life threatened by the unreal, the mythic and the impossible at every turn. Josh, for one, in not happy about the situation. Nicholas Flamel has repeatedly told the twins that they MUST trust him, that he is trying to protect them both, but Josh is not convinced that this is entirely true. He has witnessed Flamel putting his twin in great peril, he saw the Alchemyst risk Sophie’s life at her Awakening with his own eyes. Frightened, angry, and feeling both isolated by and jealous of the changes in Sophie, Josh has decided to put his life in Flamel’s hands for now, but he will not trust the man, not without knowing Flamel’s full agenda.
While Nicholas, Scathach and the twins seek sanctuary with one of the Alchemyst’s former students in Paris, Perenelle Flamel is facing her own difficulties on Alcatraz. Dr. Dee has filled the cells of the former penitentiary with the most horrible of monsters, all of whom are a great threat to humanity. Perenelle must find out why, even as she seeks to escape and rejoin Nicholas and the twins, but for The Sorceress, as for her husband, time is running out. Without the Codex to reveal to recipe for the potion of immortality, Nicholas and Perenelle will age at least a year with each passing day. Within a month, their many centuries will catch up to them and they will wither and die.
The breakneck adventure Michael Scott began in The Alchemyst continues here in The Magician. As before, Mr. Scott uses his incredible knowledge of folklore, mythology and history to populate the novel with a host of heroes, villains and beasts. The Comte de Saint-Germain, Niccolo Machiavelli and Jeanne D’Arc are all major players in this fascinating story. Varied mythical beasts and beings such as Aerop-Enap, Mars Ultor, the Valkyries and the Nidhogg all make appearances. In addition to his unparalleled grasp of the legends and histories of a myriad of cultures, Mr. Scott also uses an extensive knowledge of the settings, including Alcatraz Island and the Catacombs of Paris, to bring his story to vivid life. It’s impossible to finish this book without wanting to begin The Sorceress, book three in the series, immediately and, if the successive novels in this series prove to be as wonderful as the first two, I have a feeling I’m going to devour them one after the other.(less)
“We are about to enter London. I fear this city above all others, for it is at the very heart of Dee’s power. The last time Perenelle and I were here,...more “We are about to enter London. I fear this city above all others, for it is at the very heart of Dee’s power. The last time Perenelle and I were here, in September 1666, the Magician almost burned the city to the ground trying to capture us. We’ve never been back. London has attracted Elders from around the globe: there are more of them in this city than in any other on earth. Elders, Next Generation and immortal humans move freely and unnoticed through the streets, and I know of at least a dozen Shadowrealms scattered across the British Isles.” - from the Day Booke of Nicholas Flamel, Alchemyst
Only four days have passed since Josh and Sophie Newman learned that magic was alive in the world, but those four days have changed the fifteen-year-old twins beyond any recognition. On the run with the immortal Nicholas Flamel, Sophie and Josh have both had their considerable powers Awakened (Sophie by Hekate and Josh by Mars Ultor) and are seeking to learn the five Elemental Magics before a final confrontation with the Dark Elders. Sophie has already learned Air Magic and Fire Magic, but Josh has only just been Awakened in Paris. Following a terrifying confrontation with the immortal humans Dr. John Dee and Niccolo Machiavelli, both servants of the Dark Elders, Nicholas Flamel and the Newman twins have fled Paris and come to London.
Without Scathach the Warrior Maid, who was dragged into the Seine by an ancient enemy, Flamel and the twins have precious little protection. Of course, now is when they most need a bodyguard. London is Dee’s home base and most of the immortal humans, Elders and Next Generation (not to mention various other legendary beasties and beings) in the city are firmly allied with the Dark Elders and the Magician. Nicholas Flamel may be a very powerful alchemyst, but he is only one man and he is weakening and aging by the hour. Overuse of his aura has left Flamel extremely vulnerable and while Sophie and Josh are incredibly powerful, they are untrained. To make matters worse, activating their auras will bring Dee and his allies right to the trio, so even if they need to use magic, they cannot.Happily, Josh can provide some measure of protection with Clarent, the Sword of Fire. One of the four ancient swords of power, Clarent is a formidable weapon, but it can be as dangerous to the one who wields it as it is to an enemy. Clarent, also known as the Coward’s blade, is a sword of darkness, and of evil, and it tends to turn the thoughts of the warrior who carries it to darkness and to death.
All in all, bringing the twins to London is an incredible risk, but one Flamel has undertaken in order to introduce them to Gilgamesh the King. Gilgamesh is something of an oddity. The oldest immortal human, he knows all of the Elemental Magics, yet he has no aura of his own. He is the only person Nicholas can think of who can teach Sophie and Josh Water Magic. Unfortunately, Gilgamesh is also quite insane - a fact Flamel has decided to keep secret from the twins. But Josh and Sophie are not so willing to follow the Alchemyst blindly as they were four days ago. Both of them recognize that Flamel has an agenda of his own and neither twin completely trusts him. Josh, in fact, has begun to wonder whether Dr. Dee is really the villain at all.
While Nicholas and the twins face the perils of London, Perenelle Flamel remains trapped on Alcatraz Island. Having formed an alliance with the Old Spider Aerop Enap, a powerful Elder, Perry is relatively free on the island, but she is without a means to leave. Even as she searches for clues to Dr. Dee’s dark purpose in imprisoning a host of humanity’s most feared monsters on Alcatraz, the Dark Elders are sending two trusted agents to the island to insure Perenelle’s immediate demise. They will find, as so many have before them, that the Sorceress is not so easy to kill.
Michael Scott’s breathtaking series, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, really shifts into high gear with The Sorceress. The action continues to be fast-paced and exciting, but it is the development of the characters that makes this volume really shine. As more is revealed about the pasts of the Flamels - and that of Dr. Dee - it becomes increasingly difficult for the twins (and also the reader) to tell which man they should trust. Perenelle Flamel and her own struggles against the Dark Elders are more central to the story in this novel (she is The Sorceress, after all) and through her thoughts and interactions we also learn more of her personal history and talents. As was the case in The Alchemyst and The Magician, characters from history, folklore, myth and legend make fascinating appearances in The Sorceress. The Saracen Knight Palamedes, Billy the Kid, William Shakespeare and, as previously mentioned, Gilgamesh all play important roles in this volume, as do Cerunnos and Nereus. With each entry into this series, I come to appreciate Mr. Scott’s talents as a writer and a storyteller, as well as the incredible breadth of his knowledge, more and more. For fans of mythology and legend, or really, for anyone who appreciates stellar urban fantasy, this series is an absolute must.(less)
Let me start out by saying that this was one of my two favorite books published in 2009 (the other was Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire.) This book is f...moreLet me start out by saying that this was one of my two favorite books published in 2009 (the other was Suzanne Collins' Catching Fire.) This book is fun, brilliantly written and gorgeously illustrated. The voices of the characters are so clear that when I look back on the story it seems like I listened to it instead of reading it.
Late June, 1914. The Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and his wife Sophie have been assassinated while on a state visit to Serbia. Europe teeters on the edge of war. One one side: the Clankers - Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire - devotees of steam machines, oil and ammo. Allied against the Clankers are the Darwinists - Britain, France, Serbia and Russia - whose war machines are created from animals fabricated on the Darwinian model. As the weeks pass, diplomacy reaches its breaking point and war becomes Europe’s reality.
Prince Aleksandar, son of the Archduke, is on the run from those who arranged his father’s death. With only four loyal men to aid him, he flees across Austria-Hungary in a clanker Stormwalker, headed for Switzerland and a secluded hiding place high in the Swiss Alps.
Deryn Sharp is a Scot, a commoner, and a girl passing herself off as a boy in order to serve in the British Air Service. A brilliant airman, “Mr.” Sharp has secured a position as a midshipman on the Leviathan, the great hydrogen breather that is the pride of the Service. Deryn loves flying more than anything else, but she knows that her secret is in constant jeopardy within the closed world of Leviathan.
Alek and Deryn meet by chance under the most extraordinary circumstances. Together they embark on a fantastical adventure that may just change the fate of the world forever in this no-holds-barred steampunk novel from the brilliant Scott Westerfeld.(less)
In the England of 1837, the daughters of viscounts are expected to make their debut in society, appear at exclusive balls and parties during the Londo...more In the England of 1837, the daughters of viscounts are expected to make their debut in society, appear at exclusive balls and parties during the London Season and attract the attention of eligible bachelors. Ideally, a summer wedding will follow close on the heels of the debut Season. Twins Persephone and Penelope Leland are not exactly typical of visconts’ daughters - they’re witches and have been secretly studying magic with their governess Ally - but, as they are about to turn eighteen, they are nevertheless getting ready for their first Season.
For Persephone, nothing could be more daunting than making her debut into Society. Halting spells and other tricky bits of magic are a breeze for her but the prospect of dancing at balls and making polite conversation with appropriate men is overwhelmingly terrifying for the shy, studious Persy. Even the promise of spending more time with the Leland’s neighbor Lochinvar, Lord Seton, whom Persy secretly loves, does not make the looming Season any less frightening for her.
Just before the girls arrive in London, their beloved Ally vanishes. Persy, Pen and their brother Charles are determined to uncover the facts behind her disappearance. Not even an unsettling run-in with a mysterious Irish man can divert Persy from her quest to find Ally.
Before the Season is over, Persy will need all of her wits AND her magical talent to find Ally and uncover a vicious plot against young Princess Victoria. At the same time, keeping her head above the treacherous waters of Society and dealing with the results of an ill-advised love spell will alse require Persy’s attention.
Bewitching Season, the first of two novels featuring the Leland sisters, is a satisfying historical mystery skillfully interwoven with elements of romance and fantasy. Ms. Doyle does an excellent job of bringing mid 19th Century London to life and then adding her own elements in the form of magic and political intrigue. Persy, with her dreadful shyness and her overpowering crush on Lochinvar, makes a particularly likable heroine, and one with whom most young women can identify.(less)
After her twin sister saved Princess (now Queen) Victoria from a dastardly magical plot, the Honorable Miss Penelope Leland realizes that she must ded...moreAfter her twin sister saved Princess (now Queen) Victoria from a dastardly magical plot, the Honorable Miss Penelope Leland realizes that she must dedicate herself to her magical studies if she is ever to become as gifted a witch as Persephone. To that end, Pen travels to Ireland to live and study with her former governess Ally, Ally’s equally magically talented husband, Michael Carrighar and Michael’s wizard father.
Pen is enchanted by the city of Cork, and by Ireland as a whole, and her skill with magic seems to be increasing daily. But, as Ally is confined to bed by the effects of morning sickness, Pen soon finds herself a bit lonely. As luck - or fate - would have it, Pen meets the mysterious Lady Keating when she absent-mindedly steps in front of the Keating carriage. Almost immediately, Lady Keating takes Pen under her wing, drawing her into the social life of Cork. It doesn’t hurt that Lady Keating’s son Niall is both charming and handsome. He also seems to be more than mildly interested in Pen.
What Pen doesn’t know is that Niall Keating is flirting with her because his mother has directed him to do so. Lady Keating is actually a powerful and dangerous witch who has singled Pen out to help her with a nasty bit of intrigue. For his own part, Niall finds that he is rapidly falling for the Honorable Miss Leland. Before too long, heis as thoroughly in love with Pen as she has with him.
Once Niall learns the extent of his mother’s plans for Pen, he struggles with how to thwart them. If he tells Pen what is going on, will she forgive him for his earlier deception? Will she even believe his claims about his mother? In the end, it is Pen who must discover the heart of the truth about Niall’s mother, for she alone has the magical talent necessary to put a halt to Lady Keating’s evil plan.
Like Bewitching Season, which featured Penelope’s twin sister Persephone, Betraying Season is a pleasing combination of history, mystery, magic and romance. Cork is not London and so not as well known to most readers, but Ms. Doyle still manages to make it an integral and interesting part of this story. Although I found Persephone more likable than Penelope in the last novel, Pen really shines here as she grows into a thoughtful and talented young woman. All in all, an enjoyable historical fantasy romp.(less)