Synopsis from Amazon:
Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred 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 and Nicholas Flamel lives. 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. And 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 have to start by saying that I love mythology and magic so for them to both be a part of this story meant it would have to be written well to meet my expectations!
The book starts with a letter from Nicholas Flamel explaining himself, the problem and the time scale that’s needed to solve the problem. From the very next page we jump into the action where it’s early afternoon in San Francisco. Sophie is working in a coffee shop opposite where her brother Josh is working in a bookshop. Sophie is speaking to a friend on her mobile when she sees a car pull up outside the bookshop and out step three men in overcoats and sunglasses (it’s summer in San Francisco) followed by a smaller man dressed in an old fashion three piece suit. We leave Sophie and are with Josh in the basement of the bookshop where the magical battle has already begun.
What follows is a fast, action packed journey. Dee tries desperately to get the final two pages of the Book of Abraham the Mage but not only that, we also learn about the legend of the ‘twins’ and so another plot entwines. Flamel needs to find an Elder to awaken the twins magical powers. When Dee realises the twin implication, he tries to win one of them over to ‘his side.’
There are mythological characters strewn throughout the adventure and we get to ‘see’ some stunning magical fights as the chase proceeds. I loved that the mythical characters were alive and well in our modern times. The merging of the old (the Elders) with the new (ie technology – the Morrigan on Ebay and playing strategic console games) makes this a book that will appeal to the audience’s age range suggested of 10 to 14 years old.
I also love the way the story relates historical disasters to Flamel being chased by Dee ie the Great fire of London in 1666.
From a teaching perspective, there are some brilliant character descriptions, which could be used in the classroom (ie; The Morrigan on page 93). I almost wanted to stop reading and draw them and write an analysis!
This story has all the right ingredients to make it a fantastic read – and I have to say it did meet my expectations! There is action, adventure, love, jealousy, vengeance, great characters, magical beasts of many descriptions and the plot and sub plot are very interesting.
I think anyone who read and liked Harry Potter will also love this series.
On the official fan site there was an announcement made on 18 November 2009 of a movie deal. I for one will look forward to watching this if it does make it to the silver screen!
The Alchemyst is a contemporary fantasy and is the first book of six in the series ‘The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel’. It is aimed at readers aged 10 to 14. The second book in the series is called ‘The Magician’ and the adventure continues in Paris as the element of Fire needs to be mastered and the prophecy becomes clearer.
The Alchemyst is published by Corgi Books and was released 5 Aug 2010.
Michael Scott’s website details the series as well as links to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
I would like to thank Waterstones for sending me a copy for review.