Thursday, November 21, 2013

Review: "The Alchemyst" by Michael Scott

Title: The Alchemyst
Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1
Author: Michael Scott
Publisher: Ember
Year: 2008

"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 first read this book many many years ago, in my native language, Estonian. As a kid who loved myths and legends growing up, this was a special kind of treat. So now that I have access to the wonderful bookstores of UK, I thought that it was about time I relived my childhood. 

Somehow I remembered Scott’s writing style as more fluent but that might have been the translation I read at the time. That is in no way to say that it is bad. It is great, just not my favourite. Just like I have quite a specific taste in writing style that makes pages fly by for me, there are many people for whom this could be the perfect cup of tea. 

But lets get to the good parts before you start to think that I did not like this book, which would be a colossal lie (really Pinocchio, get a grip). 

First of all, the story. If you like mythology, any kind of mythology, then this is an amazing book. I cannot even imagine the amount of work that went into creating the world and backstory of this book. The idea that Nicholas Flamel is still alive is an intriguing. Doctor John Dee actually was an advisor to Queen Elizabeth. And then the gods and goddesses of old: Hekate, Morrigan, Bastet, the list goes on. Combining so many different mythologies and stories could turn out to be so ridiculous. But Scott creates a world in which they co-exist in a way that makes sense and is exciting beyond belief.

The only bone I have to pick with this book is that almost none of the characters were clear-cut. I mean I like the mysterious stranger as much as the next fan girl. But while one of the twins, Josh, got a fair share of backstory, I felt like Sophie was a little neglected. I felt like they were supposed to steal the show but ended up being the talented sidekicks.
Scathach remained very vague and I would have loved to learn more about the ancient Irish warrior. Then again I liked that you could never really decide if Nicholas Flamel was as good as he seemed to be or not. 

That said I will hold on to the right of changing my opinion after reading the next books. It might turn out to be one of those stories which are good but not amazing and then something in the later books makes it all click and you just have to put the book down for a moment, stare at nothing and say: “Sh***t...“

All in all „The Alchemyst“ was an good read. It lures you in, has a lot of action and makes you (okay, me) giddy with excitement when you see a familiar legend brought into the fold. I think when I first read it I was in the intended demographic, I was about 14 at the time. And it was a bit better the first time around. Therefore by my personal opinion “The Alchemyst” ranks 3.5 stars. But it is worth mentioning that half of one of those is a nostalgia star. 

This review has been brought to you by your Book Mistress for the day.


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