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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
THE ALCHEMYST is the beginning of a new children's series with magic firmly at its heart.

Sophie and Josh Newman are twins who are staying in San Francisco during the summer while their parents are on an archeological dig. Josh has a job at a small bookshop, Sophie works in a coffee shop directly across the road. On May 31st, their life changes forever as they are drawn into a battle that has been going on for more than a lifetime. For Josh's boss, Nick Fleming, is really Nicholas Flamel, the famous alchemyst who discovered the secret to eternal life. For centuries, Nicholas has been guarding the sacred book The Book of Abraham the Mage, as this book enables him and his wife to stay youthful, but also because the power it contains could destroy the world if in the wrong hands. For years, Dr. John Dee has been trying to steal this book, and on May 31st, he does just that. Now nothing will ever be the same again.

That is basically the plot. Sounds pretty good, and the action starts straight away. However, I came away from this book feeling slightly disappointed. For me, the writing was not as exciting as it could have been. Whilst the beginning was brilliant, in the middle the pace did slow down quite dramatically. And I don't feel that Scott did a very good job of developing his characters - I cannot really say that I cared for either Josh or Sophie particularly. However, what I did love about THE ALCHEMYST was Scott's use of mythology and science as well as magic. It gave the book a little extra something, rather than just relying on magic to excite.
Still can't say that I was enthralled by it though - and I'm not sure if I'm going to bother checking out the next installment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Fifteen year old Sophie is spending the summer working in a coffee shop while her twin brother Josh works in the book shop over the road. When she sees a strange car turn up outside the book shop she is worried for her brothers safety and goes over to check on him. She soon realises that both she & Josh have stumbled into a world of magic and placed themselves in great danger. It turns out that Josh's boss is the famous alchemyst Nicholas Flamel and he has been protecting a book that contains secrets that could cause the end of the world for almost seven hundred years. Nicholas' enemy John Dee has finally caught up with him and when he escapes - with the book and Nicholas' wife Perenelle as a hostage - life will never be the same again. Josh manages to keep hold of the last 2 pages of the book but now Dee is searching for them, wanting to steal the missing pages. They are going to need to find powerful friends if they are going to keep the pages out of Dee's hands and survive his attacks.

The lovely publicist Corinne from Random House Children's Books spoke so highly of this series that I was really looking forward to giving it a try. I'm so glad I did as I found The Alchemyst a really enjoyable fantasy adventure story. Michael Scott has created a detailed world full of magic & myths with a bit of world history thrown in for good measure. I loved the way he has woven legends alongside real events to create a fun adventure story that will be popular with both boys and girls. Although I liked both Sophie and Josh it was Nick, Perry and Scatty who were my favorite characters and who really jumped out of the pages at me.

Sophie and Josh have been thrust into a secret world of immortals, Goddesses and mythological creatures that they never would have suspected existed. It isn't an easy world to be introduced to and what they have seen has placed them in great danger. Nick is very good at only telling part of the story so they can never be quite sure if he has told them everything they need to know and they are wary of trusting him fully. It quickly becomes clear that Nick believes that the twins are the key to saving the world from the Dark Elders (immortals who want to take over the world, reducing humanity to their slaves) but it is going to take time to train them and for them to grow into their full powers. Time that they may not have when Dee is on their trail and determined to destroy them.

Overall The Alchemyst is an enjoyable start to the series and will appeal to fantasy fans young and old. Having both male and female main characters mean it will appeal to both boys and girls and I'd definitely recommend you give the series a try if you've yet to discover it. I already have a copy of The Magician and after the cliffhanger ending of The Alchemyst it won't be long before I'm picking it up to continue the adventure.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 27 April 2011
I love action / adventure books by authors such as Matthew Reilly, James Rollins, Andy McDermott and Scott Mariani, to name just a few. The first two writers I mentioned have also written books for young adults which are hugely entertaining and so, I'm not against reading books meant for a younger audience. I'm 33 and enjoy feeling younger through the excitement only a book can bring.

Michael Scott has created a highly entertaining world of magic and legend that has the energy and action to appeal to adults as well as younger people. The frenetic pace kicks off immediately and hardly lets up making this a real page turner.

I've already bought book two and look forward to reading it.

It's not just Harry Potter that is capable of casting a spell over readers.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on 28 June 2007
The Alchemyst by Michael Scott opens with Sophie Newman working in the Coffee Cup across the street from her twin brother, Josh, who is working in the book shop. Sophie is talking on the phone when a car pulls up out front and some unusual-looking men step out of it. They enter the bookshop and neither her, nor her brother's, life will ever be the same again. They enter the world of magic for the better or for the worse... They soon find out which.

I went into this novel with very high expectations. It had been highly praised in the media before its release, and they were not wrong to do so. It far exceeded my expectations. The writing is easy to focus on and very cleanly composed for the most part. There were some paragraphs and techniques that aren't typical of modern prose that took me a few minutes to adjust to, but they serve the story really well in the long run.

The references to mythology history are lovely touches. They really help make the world seem real and drew me in.

It's a great novel. I highly recommend it in every way.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Recently, I find I haven't read many series openers of an existing series that have really made me desperate for the second book. Nothing has grabbed me enough, until a lovely publicist highly recommended I try Michael Scott's first book in the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. I'm so glad I listened!

I don't read a lot of YA fantasy, so I am in no way an expert of any kind. What I do read, like Harry Potter and Eragon, I choose carefully. Usually they have to include magic, dragons or, if I'm very lucky, both. The Alchemyst has magic, legends, a fight between good and evil and, get this: A VAMPIRE. With a difference. I think it was written just for me.

Scott's writing didn't wow me, and I'll admit I didn't think it was anything amazing. What I did like was how he incorporated many well-known myths and legends into his story, as well as numerous mentions of world events, and famous people and places. The 1666 Great Fire of London even played a part in this story, which is just beyond cool. It's like this fantastical fight has spanned generations and, unless you're involved, you won't know anything about it. I love things like that and, the next time I see a large number of cats following me, let's just say I know who I'll be calling.

Scott's characters were all easy to become invested in, although some stood out more than others. I actually thought main characters Sophie and Josh were the weakest of the lot, with Nicholas, Perenelle and Scathach owning the page. The numerous Elders, villains and creatures involved made The Alchemyst an exciting read, and I never once found myself losing concentration. A couple of sections required a little more attention than others, as there was a lot of history being explained, which came complete with new fantasy names to learn and events to remember. It didn't bore me though, and instead added a change of pace to the narrative.

As the first book in a series, The Alchemyst is pretty rock solid. It sets things up for book 2, The Magician, and ends on a mild cliffhanger. If it had been any worse, I'd have been heading to buy the next book straight away. I can't wait to find out what happens next, and I just hope I can get hold of The Magician soon. Until then, I will exercise some patience.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 9 September 2007
I love a good tale of magic so I didn't think I'd like this as it sounded alot like Science. However, it mixed Science, Magic and Mythology. It is a brilliant story that does draw you in. I started it on Friday night, late so I couldn't finish it but I stayed in bed on Saturday morning reading it. I could not put it down. It pulls you in, and you cannot leave. He has done alot of research and put it into his book. His different races are amazing, he combines his imagination into mythology using Gods of old.

Read On...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 25 January 2010
this book is my favorite it is a gripping story about fiffteen year old twins sophie and josh in san francisco where they have a happy life until the alchemyst nick flemming a book shop owner is ambushed by dr john dee a fellow alchemyst and necromancer and there life suddenly turns upside down...a awsome book with magic,beauty and lots of laughs!!!a brill book for 8-12 yr olds a amazing fantasy adventure that will pull you in and not let you go five stars from me!!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2009
I Recived this Book as a birthday present and thought it was one of those books that look good but are rubbish. I read the blurb and it sounded goood but the blurbs of bad books are usually the best part of the book.
i Began reading "the Alchemist" and imeditely thought it was amazing and was going to be one of those books. As the other reveiws it starts with Sophie in the coffee Cup talking to Her mate. BUT It turns around and is one of those books where the main character could die on the next page. Nicholas Flammel is a very sectertibe man and reveals lots yet non as the books go on and Josh starts to ditrust and dispare Nick much more as the books goes on.
They always say never judge a book by its cover well you can!! The cover looks amazing and so is the book!!
The book ended on a Cliffhanger ending which is annoying as the have just arrived in Paris.
I REALLY WANT PEOPLE TO TRY THIS AMAZING BOOK!!
YOU WON'T REGRET IT!!!!
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on 3 April 2014
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: “S***...“

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.

---

The review is also on my blog:
www.thefantasylibrarian.blogspot.co.uk
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on 25 March 2013
I was astonished to uncover a book like no other, which contrary to epic fantasy creations contains solid scientific fact amid a contemporary feel. As a huge fan of JK Rowling's Harry Potter series, I was already familiar with Nicholas Flamel who had created the Philosopher's stone (the elixir of life) and so secrets to immortality had already been discovered. What I did not expect to find was a totally original creation with exciting characters, which took me on the most thrilling journey and otherworldly adventure. The two `meddling' twins reminded me of Fred and George Weasley's distinct personalities, as they brought such vibrancy and energy to the gripping narrative. Cleverly combining folklore with mythology, this is a series (that although targeted towards the younger reader), will appeal to JRR Tolkien fans and those who enjoy spellbinding fantasy in the vein of Harry Potter or His Dark Materials.

The Alchemist is the first installment within a five book series that focuses on Nicholas Flamel the seven hundred year old Alchemyst. Born in Paris on 28 September 1330, Flamel is known as one of the greatest Alchemyst of all-time, with his discovery of the secret to eternal life being a noteworthy achievement. Within the book of Abraham the Mage lies this powerful secret, and so in the wrong hands it could ultimately destroy the world...this element reminded me of Torchwood: Miracle Day, when no one dies!
...modern day - Dr. John Dee plans to steal the book. A prophecy states that two youngsters, Sophie and Josh Newman are the only ones with the power to prevent this from happening. As Sophie and Josh find themselves in the middle of a perilous quest to save mankind from extinction, they also realize the magnitude of this when at the heart of one of the greatest legends of all-time...

Plunging into a dazzlingly dangerous world filled with immortals and extraordinary creatures, distant lands and vast realms was simply breathtaking. As an avid reader and individual whose mind spends one hundred percent of its time in a fantasy land (whether that be Hogwarts or Middle-Earth), I was utterly awestruck by the inspired vision and scope of this novel. I cannot enthuse enough about this remarkable series which was pure joy to read, addictive and profoundly absorbing as to render me unable to put the book down. If I could give more than a five star rating I would, hence I cannot wait to delve into book 2 `the Magician'.

...What would you do if you held the secret which could end the world?

*I won a paperback copy of "Book 1: the secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel, The Alchemyst" by Michael Scott, from a Goodreads (first-read) giveaway. I would like to thank Random House publishing for sending me a copy of this book*
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