Another series I have been enjoying for some time is The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. And like Sisters Grimm, the series has come to and end with The Enchantress. And like that series, the final book left me with mixed feelings.
Here is the Kirkus summary:
Scott tops off his deservedly popular series with a heaping shovelful of monster attacks, heroic last stands, earthquakes and other geological events, magic-working, millennia-long schemes coming to fruition, hearts laid bare, family revelations, transformations, redemptions and happy endings (for those deserving them). Multiple plotlines–some of which, thanks to time travel, feature the same characters and even figures killed off in previous episodes–come to simultaneous heads in a whirl of short chapters. Flamel and allies (including Prometheus and Billy the Kid) defend modern San Francisco from a motley host of mythological baddies. Meanwhile, in ancient Danu Talis (aka Atlantis), Josh and Sophie are being swept into a play to bring certain Elders to power as the city’s downtrodden “humani” population rises up behind Virginia Dare, the repentant John Dee and other Immortals and Elders.
This big sprawling end to a big sprawling series is hard to sum up. I enjoyed putting all the pieces together, and the ending was creative, but it felt like a bit of an entertaining meandering over-the-top mess. But that said, a great series. More below.
Alas, it – like all the others – ends with both a plot twist and cliffhanger. And the waiting game begins again.
In the fifth installment of this bestselling series, the twins of prophesy have been divided, and the end is finally beginning.
With Scatty, Joan of Arc, Saint Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare all in Danu Talis, Sophie is on her own with the ever-weakening Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. She must depend on Niten to help her find an immortal to teach her Earth Magic. The surprise is that she will find her teacher in the most ordinary of places.
This is one of those series where the books are not stand alone reads. Each book is more like an episode than a stand alone novel. Once you start you have to keep reading; both to find out what happens but also to explore the world and the mythological characters Scott develops and introduces.
To use an already over-used comparison, it is similar to the Harry Potter books where being immersed in the world is just as important as things like tight plots and clean story lines. The Flamel books take you from plot point A to plot point B but the journey is as important as where you end up.
That is what makes reviewing a book like this a little tricky. Obviously fans of the series are going to read it. And those who haven’t read the previous book should start at the beginning.
Bottom line: I recommend the series and found this an interesting chapter in the larger story but with a vicious twist at the very end.
Not sure why, but a bunch of authors I enjoy had book come out at the end of May and, particularly given my constrained reading and reviewing time these days, this meant a stacked up TBR pile. Choices, choices, isn’t that what is all about most days?
I enjoyed the previous books in the series – my wife and I raced through them and were anxiously awaiting this latest volume in a planed six book series. For those of you not in the loop – for shame! – here is the Amzon review:
The Necromancer, book four in Michael Scott’s “Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” series, brings the immortal Flamel (The Alchemyst) and teenaged twins, Sophie and Josh, back home to San Francisco, where they meet up with the sorceress Perenelle, Flamel’s wife, who spent the last book escaping from Alcatraz. Time is running out for the Flamels; it’s now been six days since their foe Dr. John Dee (another immortal) ran off with the Codex, the book of Abraham the Mage that keeps them young, and they are aging fast. The twins, who have been learning the Elemental Magics over the course of the first three books, are worried about getting into trouble for basically disappearing for days, so they check in with their guardian, Aunt Agnes. But Scott doesn’t let them settle in for long. True to the break-neck pace of this series, they are quickly pulled back into the action when Sophie is kidnapped by a redheaded vampire who bears an eerie resemblance to one of their recent allies, Scathach, who disappeared with Joan of Arc in the last book. The Necromancer introduces readers to even more infamous immortals, while keeping up with favorites from past books–Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Billy the Kid. As the characters accumulate, so do the opportunities for hair-raising conflicts and insane reveals. Scott manages their multiple story lines with a sequence of cliffhangers that keep it a really fun read even as he is piling on the history and mythology, taking readers further into the secrets that will bring the whole story together. As the characters hurtle toward a conflict that could bring about the end of the world, we can’t wait to see where they’ll go, what they’ll learn, and who they’ll meet next.
This, at least to me, is not a stand alone book by any stretch of the imagination. Instead it is a volume that begins to unwind and explain a complicated plot as the series comes to a close. As time seems to be running short on the Flamels the pace seemed to slow down and the mythological background comes more into focus. There is a major plot twist/revelation that I assume holds a clue to the ultimate resolution. Hard to believe there are two more books before the end.
The tension between Josh and the Flamels – and his sister – is ratcheted up and the good guys and bad guys – if you can figure out which is which – are converging and building to a climax (again, if you call it that with two books left).
This is an enjoyable fantasy thriller series but one of those where you race to read the book only to be forced to wait for the next release to dive back in again. But it is well worth the wait.
I thought it would be appropriate to look back over the books I read in 2009 and pick out a few of my favorites. Keep in mind what follows is my list of favorite reads in 2009 not books published in 2009. And the list is not in particular order or rank.
No matter your faith background, or lack of it, or your knowledge of the Bible, or lack of it, I highly recommend John The Baptizer. Its blends the historical and the literary in ways that defy genre and subject matter to create a powerful story.
For anyone wanting to understand the conservative movement, and its flagship magazine, Right Time, Right Place is a must read. And anyone interested in becoming a journalist/writer would do well to read it. But at its heart is a more humane vision: that being true to your ideals and friends is what’s important.
With the Everafter War Michael Buckley again shows why this series has won the acclaim and popularity it has. Each book has just the right amount of humor and seriousness; of plot and character development mixed with satire and slapstick. He keeps the reader guessing – although both the traitor and the master are pretty easy to spot – and despite all the silliness (and the YA audience) the characters are surprisingly well developed. It is just an ideal light read for me and for kids of all ages.
I will fully admit that I can be far too derivative in my reviews. I think that I can write some thoughtful and detailed reviews when I have the time and energy. But I also post a number of “here is the publishers blurb and here is my reaction” type posts.
This doesn’t bother me too much because one function of this blog is simply to track what I read; and not every review is, or has to be, a thoughtful masterpiece.
I bring this up, because I would be hard pressed to add much to Heidi Broadhead’s Amazon.com review of The Sorceress by Michael Scott:
The third book in Michael Scott’s “Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel” series, The Sorceress, kicks the action up to a whole new level. Adding to the series’ menagerie of immortal humans (“humani”) and mythological beasts, the book picks up where The Magician left off: the immortal Nicholas Flamel (of The Alchemyst) and the twins, Sophie and Josh, have just arrived at St. Pancras international train station in London. Almost immediately, they’re confronted with a demonic bounty hunter that immortal magician John Dee has sent their way. At the same time, Dee’s occasional cohort, Niccolo Machiavelli, decides to focus his energy on Perenelle Flamel, the Alchemyst’s wife, who has been imprisoned at Alcatraz since the beginning of the series. In this book, Perenelle gets a chance to show off her sorcery and resourcefulness, fighting and forging alliances with ghosts, beasts, and the occasional Elder to try and find a way out of her predicament and back to Flamel.
Scott is as playful as ever, introducing new immortals–famous figures from history who (surprise!) are still alive. He also adds to the roster of fantastical beasts, which already includes such intriguing foes as Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess, and the Morrigan, or Crow Goddess. Raising the stakes with each installment, Scott deftly manages multiple story lines and keeps everything moving pretty quickly, making this third book a real page-turner. More than just another piece in the puzzle of the whole series, The Sorceress is an adventure in its own right, and will certainly leave series fans wanting more.
I wasn’t blown away by The Alchemyst but each book since has ratcheted up the intensity. The Amazon review matches my reaction perfectly. The action is kicked up a notch, the pacing is great, and the characters – both old and new – are fun and well done.
If you have been living in a cave and haven’t stumbled on this series yet, and you like fantasy adventure, I highly recommend it.
This is one of those great series where each book seems to get better and each wait for the next one to come up seems more intolerable.
It turned out to be a grand adventure. Not the most believable story, for sure, but imaginative and entertaining.
I think that was an accurate statement, but interestingly enough, this series has really grown on me. The second book, The Magician, turned out to be a even faster paced and more engaging read.
Here is Booklists take:
The Alchemyst (2007), the first book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series, introduced a wide-ranging group of historical figures who have achieved immortality and are engaged in a present-day struggle for the fate of the world. This second entry picks up exactly where the first left off. Allied with the legendary Nicholas Flamel on the “good” side are teenage twins Sophie and Josh, who are supremely gifted but with powers that are untrained. Countering them is a new archvillain, Niccolò Machiavelli, who, along with other figures from history and legend (Joan of Arc, a trio of Valkyries), swells the already impressive cast. Plundering every imaginable culture of their heroes and heroines is a clever feat, sure to draw all manner of historically and mythologically minded readers. One weakness starts to show through, however. In a six-book series such as this, each installment begins to feel like a lengthy, glorified chapter rather than its own book complete with a satisfying story arc and resolution. That said, this keeps the pace as an exciting and impeccably thought-out fantasy, well suited for those left in the lurch by Harry Potter’s recent exeunt.
I think Booklist captures the pros and cons of this series well. As noted, the overall plot is of course ridiculous – as any conspiracy that purports to explain the history of the universe and involves mankind being kept in the dark for millenia is bound to be. And the books have the feel more of large chapter books rather than stand alone novels.
But once you plunge into them and accept these limits they are really great entertainment. You are just focused on the characters – the reoccurring ones and the ones that Scott keeps blending in – and the race to capture Flamel and the twins. Scott keeps enough murkey that there is good tension – wondering where everyone’s loyalty lies and what trap might be sprung when you aren’t looking.
Scott has taken a clever hook and managed to keep both the pace and the interest in the characters and the larger story line over the course of a number of large books. That is not as easy as it looks. It would have been easy for the creativity to dry up and the story to bog down – or for the reader to get tired of the chase – but I found myself furtively reading every chance I get to find out what was going to happen next and to find some clues about the larger mystery at the heart of the battle for the fate of earth.
But at its most basic it is really just a good fantasy action adventure story. Interesting good guys and bad guys – and somewhere in between – battling it out across the world using magical powers and the knowledge gained from immortality. Basic stuff: good versus evil on an epic scale.
My wife and I have both now plowed through the series and are annoyed we have to wait until May 2010 for the next book. So if you haven’t yet discovered it, I recommend the series for those that love fantasy action adventures (young or old).
Note to authors and publicists: giving away the first book in order to entice readers to read and purchase the whole series works. This is exactly how I came to be a fan. Free Kindle version of the first book led me to buy the next book.