Monday, 21 January 2013

Book review: The Alchemyst, by Michael Scott

Title: The Alchemyst
Author: Michael Scott
Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, #1
Genre: YA low fantasy
Published: 20 May 2007
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.
I picked this book up with very high expectations, and I’m glad to say it delivered.

The story follows Josh and Sophie Newman, twins, who, to save up some money and buy a car, take up summer jobs. One thing leads to another, they become involved in a millennia-old battle between good and evil. They meet Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, the legendary Alchemysts, who are guarding the Book of Abraham the Mage, which is said to contain secrets that could destroy the world. The Flamels, taking the twins along with them, escape an attack by Dr. John Dee, who attempts and succeeds in stealing the Book.

I absolutely loved this book. I have always loved mythology, and the fact that Michael Scott introduced all kinds of mythology into this series just made me all giddy inside. We see the Flamels, who aren’t exactly mythological, but legendary. We also see John Dee, who was a consultant for Queen Elizabeth I. We meet Sc├áthach and the Morrigan, who are Irish deities. We meet Bastet, an Egyptian goddess. We also meet Hekate, who is a pre-Olympian goddess. I didn’t even know she existed! Zeus and Odin are also mentioned. Basically, you have all your worldly mythology in this series.

This had all sorts of characters. Sophie is pretty likeable, much unlike his brother. I loathed Josh. He is selfish, arrogant, and just plain obnoxious. I really liked both Flamels, though we don’t get to see much of Perenelle. Now, Sc├áthach, she’s another story completely. I just adored her. She was awesome, brave, sassy. And she’s a ginger, that gave her points.

I loved the ending. We get to see necromancy at its full scale, and I have been fascinated by necromancy for a few years. It just becomes an epic, super-awesome magic duel against John Dee.

The one thing I did not enjoy about this book is the overly excessive mentioning of brands. Every time they use something, its brand is specified. iPods, Green Day, Hummer. There is at least one brand mentioned in each chapter.

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