Monday, February 22, 2016

The Alchemyst

The Alchemyst, etc series, Michael Scott

This six book series titled The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, is an adventure packed read for youth.   Scott has picked up on a character of history, Nicholas Flamel, who keen readers of the Harry Potter series will also recognise as the alleged creator of the Philosopher’s Stone.   Nicholas and his wife Perenelle are immortal, that is, they are humans who gained immortality through The Book of Abraham which they obtained hundreds of years ago.  The series centres around Josh and Sophie Newman, 15 year-old twins, who Nicholas and Perenelle believe may be the famed twins of prophecy who are able to save the world. 

It seems many other immortals still inhabit the world, and here Scott has done a very interesting thing: attributing immortality to famous figures of history who end up in the modern day – so over the course of the series they also run into Shakespeare, Joan of Arc, Billy the Kid, Machiavelli, and others, including in a twist for me, the Comte de Saint-Germain (who also features in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series).   Then he has woven many ancient myths and legends into the series as well, so that the older inhabitants of the earth before humans were elders or archons, and are characters those familiar with mythology may also recognise, such as Mars, Bastet, Isis and Osiris and Hekate.   Therefore, for those readers with some knowledge of history or mythology, there is interest and sometimes humour in the characters and their roles.   The list of characters and the roles they play does get complex at times, and I struggled to really interact with his version of how the world was made through the myths and legends of the past.

A similar list of complicated gods and legend figures also appeared in Percy Jackson.  Seems that if you are going to write about mythology and ancient gods, there are long list to choose from! In fact, the action felt overdone in points.  Husband and I felt like they were a bit like a Matthew Reilly fiction for youth – lots of action, not a lot of thought and interpretation.   

Having said that Mr 12 and his friends have enjoyed these.  I also liked them, but found the series a bit long.  It did all reach a suitable climax though in Book 6, with enough complications and quirks to even consider re-reading it, once you understood the twists of the finale.

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