A friend of mine and I had been talking about books and when I mentioned that I hadn’t read a good book, or really any books due to work, school, finals, family stuff etc, in a while he mentioned this Young Adult fantasy series that he really enjoyed. Now for me, no matter how old I get young adult fantasy will never go out of style. While I enjoy Adult Fantasy, I liked Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels Trilogy, it is hard for me to find one that isn’t really dry or really Tolkien-esque, I love JRR Tolkien but after a while that whole epic quest, one ring, black and white definition of good and evil, it gets tiresome. If anyone has any suggestions for cool books please let me know.
Anyways my friend suggested that I read a series by Michael Scott, The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Now anyone who knows anything about Nicholas Flamel, or anyone who saw the first Harry Potter movie, knows that Nicholas Flamel is the supposed creator of the philosopher’s stone (a stone that can turn lead into gold) and discoverer of the secrets of immortality in a drought known as the Elixir of Life. Now Flamel was a real person born in Paris in 1330, died in 1418. He was a bookseller and an alchemist (they did actually have those back then) who became mysteriously wealthy, though he did give a lot of the mysterious wealth to building school and hospitals. I would say more but they explain him pretty well in the book.
The only book I’ve read so far is the first one, The Alchemyst, and I really enjoyed it. The main story line takes place in modern-day and there are these twins who get mixed up with Nicholas Flamel who is fighting Dr. John Dee for this book that has all these magic spells and recipes for potions (like the Elixir of Life). Dee steals the book and kidnaps Flamel’s wife and they have to get both back before a month elapses or both of the Flamels will be dead because they have to take the elixir monthly to live forever and the ingredients change every month so they couldn’t memorize the potion. The twins have “seen too much” so they have to go with Flamel for their own safety. Later we find out that there is a prophesy (cuz it’s a fantasy novel and there always seems to be a prophesy) and that the twins are part of the prophesy (surprise surprise). Later there is a huge battle and all hell breaks loose.
I know it sounds like a generic fantasy novel. What makes this book stand out, to me at least, are all the side characters. They are fantastic in every sense of the word. Yeah the twins are ok but they are nowhere near as interesting as the other characters. Pretty much all of the side characters are characters out of legend, history, and mythology. There are the Flamels (real people with a bit of legend thrown in), Dr. John Dee (real person, kinda the real life 007), Scathac (a maiden warrior from celtic mythology. Hecate (greek myth), and so many more. I thought I knew a lot about mythology and I was still finding characters I’ve never heard of before, like Scathac. Michael Scott not only incorporates them into the story he also gives them some depth. Most of the first book is plot building, and feels like it, but I also have the suspicion that the reason for it is that the other books will be great and make up for the plot building. I’d give it a 8 out of 10. It’s a quick read with interesting facts and side characters. It has potential.