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4.4 out of 5 stars62
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 3 October 2011
Well, this one must have been one heck of a research job! I love a good dose of mythology and in The Alchemyst, Michael Scott seems to have pulled on the full resources of myth and folklore, dredging up long forgotten characters in tales of old to create an incredibly comprehensive world of magic. More than that, he has brought these legends right up to date, making them relevant to the modern audience. I love the way these ancient and incredibly powerful creatures are at home with mobile phones and eBay.

The best characters in The Alchemyst are actually the adult characters, especially Dr John Dee - he's probably the best developed and the one that is easiest to conjure up in the imagination. And besides I love a good baddy! However, this brings me to the two main teen characters, Josh and Sophie. I'm afraid to say that I just don't like them. They are supposed to have two of the rarest auras which in the history of humanity are only found on those with incredible talent, intelligence or courage but the twins are two of the most stupid, wet characters I've ever come across in a book. There are great chunks of the plot that are dedicated to their stupidity which could have been completely cut and would have made me feel a little better about the pace of the story. I like my heroes to have a bit of spark, a bit of something that you can identify with, even if it's a flaw, that makes them hard not to like but if the twins were a colour they would be a particularly wet shade of grey. I actually found myself cheering on Dee at one point because I wanted the stupid twins to fail and preferably die and for two new likeable characters to pop into their shoes and actually be a bit effective.

It's possible that Michael Scott meant them to be like this and in the next books they are going to have personality overhauls, which they better because at the moment I'm really torn. I love the world that Michael Scott has created but I hate the heroes and at times the writing can be a bit young and cliché. I have to keep reminding myself that the twins are in fact 15 so that's about the target audience but they can be very childish and the writing is hitting a bit low on the target. 15-year-olds (and I!) need to be stimulated a bit with edgy, clever writing but sometimes it just gets a bit too predictable.

So, this is a bit of an internal marmite book for me - I both love it and dislike it. I'm hoping the twins are going to get a bit of a grip in the next book because I do really like the story - if they could just grow some spine and stop having panic attacks whenever one of them gets a scratch or chips a nail that would suit me fine!
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on 1 August 2009
The first book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series. It was a great find for me whilst browsing in my local Waterstones, the cover is so visually stunning, it literally made the book jump off the shelf to me! This is a great YA read, good pacing, engaging characters who, bar the twins Josh and Sophie Newman, come from history or mythology and can be Googled (which adds an interesting extra level of depth to them). Michael Scott is a very descriptive writer and it is easy to mentally picture the characters and places that he describes.
The book opens with the 15 year old twins (Josh and Sophie) working in their respective summer jobs (one in a bookstore, the other a coffee house) when their lives are suddenly turned upside down by the arrival of Dr John Dee. A magical fight (No wands involved! This isn't Potter!) ensues and a valuable, magical book, The Codex is stolen (minus two very special pages ripped out by Josh in the struggle). Perry Fleming (Wife of the bookshop owner Nick Fleming) is kidnapped. Nick then reveals himself to be Nicholas Flamel, the alchemist from history, Perry to be his wife Perenelle Flamel, he also tells them that they are immortal after using an elixir for immortality, the recipe for which is in the Codex..and that they'll be needing it back quickly as they will perish within a month without the recipe to brew more, all to the twin's disbelief!
This sets in motion a chain of events for the twins, they discover they are the twins of a prohecy in the Codex, twins who possess the rare pure silver and pure gold auras, who may have the power not only to save Perry but to save mankind from the return of the Dark Elders once their magic is awakened and they have been taught how to harness the elemental magics. It is a race against time for all.
My own children enjoyed this book, my youngest was 8 at the time and needed a little help with some words and I had read it and thoroughly enjoyed myself first, despite being well out of the YA "age range"! It has a broad spectrum appeal, not just limited to YA, and I would recommend it for any reader 8 to 88... or even 888 if you know the right recipe ;)!!
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on 13 November 2007
Having found myself at the 100 page mark after less than an hour, it struck me just how engrossed I was in this book that I'd forgotten to have dinner. Surely that's praise enough!
You've probably already read the synopsis above so I won't bore you by regurgitating it but I can wholeheartedly assure you that Irish (and, courtesy of this gem, New York Times Bestselling) author Michael Scott has pulled out all the stops on this one - and its only the first in a series of six! Perfect if you want your kids to move from finishing "Harry Potter 7" into another highly enjoyable fantasy series, Mr. Scott deserves more recognition for seamlessly weaving together a fantastic tableau of the modern and the mythic. Ancient goddesses? Check. Ancient Celtic warriors? Check. Beasts, nasties and the walking undead (uh, I guess zombies)? Check check! Mr. Scott has clearly spent years compiling notes etc to write this first book as you don't come up with all the mythological references on the spot. But those years of note-taking have definitely paid off as this is the end result.
Hopefully, the film version will not disappoint or ruin the good reputation of this fine piece of literature.
As a bonus, an excerpt from the sequel, "The Magician," is included at the end of the hardcover tome.
I read it in a grand total of four hours over three days. Not since the first Harry Potter book when I was a kid have I consumed a fantasy novel so fast and have such a sweet taste in my mouth. May 29th and the sequel can't come fast enough.
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VINE VOICEon 28 August 2007
The story just drew me in and left me gasping for more. This story pivots around twins, Sophie and Josh Newman and how they get sucked into the world of immortals and legend. Josh is working for Nick Fleming in his bookstore when the bookstore is invaded by Golems, his sister works in the coffee shop opposite.

Because they both have seen things they shouldn't, and accidentally ripped two pages from an ancient book of power, they have to flee with Nick, who turns out to be Nicholas Flamel. They discover that some of the people out of legend are still alive, as are many of the Gods. Nicholas' wife is kidnapped and nothing will ever be normal again.

It's interesting, fun and a wild ride. I can't wait for the next book in the series.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 6 February 2008
Two twins can change the world, but little do they realize their whole lives are about to change when Dr. Dee walks into the bookstore where Josh works. Sophie, who works across the street, senses something suspicious after watching the strange man.

After a magical fight that involves both siblings, they discover Josh's boss isn't exactly who he's claiming to be.

He is in fact the famous Nicolas Flamel, whose tomb lies empty. He and his wife have been on the run to escape Dr. Dee's clutches and hide a magical book, which holds more secrets than anyone imagines. When Dr Dee captures Nicholas's wife and part of the book, Nicholas reacts quickly. Since the twins have already been exposed, he allows them to accompany him as he sets forth to recover both Perry and the book.

Michael Scott pens the first novel in a new series with action-packed adventure and fantasy. Harry Potter fans will, of course, recognize the name Nicholas Flamel, but that's where the similarities between the two stories end. THE ALCHEMYST delivers a fresh spin on magic that is sure to please.

Reviewed by: Jennifer Rummel
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on 4 January 2016
What an amazing book! I'd say suitable for children from around 9 years old - if they are really confident readers. Then suitable up to adults.
(After reading the Harry Potter books, I had no idea that Nicholas Flamel had been a real person - on whom this story is based)
15 year old twins Sophie and Josh have part-time work. Josh works for Nick and Perry Fleming - who turn out to be Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. The couple have had to change their identities over the years, as they have discovered the immortality elixir.
John Dee - also 100s of years old, hunts for Nicholas and Perenelle, to find 'The Codex' - a spell book which contains the recipe for the immortality elixir.
Josh and Sophie get caught up in the ensuing dramas. It transpires that they are mentioned in a prophecy from The Codex - which states that they have the power to both save, and destroy the world.
Loads of action, loads of amazing characters.
An absolutely superb book! (the 1st in a series)
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on 27 June 2011
I had a little trouble getting into this book at first but this was probably because of the complexity of the story and back story (which by the way spans thousands of years) but once I got my head round it I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It is filled with magic and centuries old beings, monsters, magicians and other wonderful creatures. The main characters are all well thought out and well written and I enjoyed reading from all the different points of view.
The author has obviously spent a lot of time building up his world and history and you can certainly tell from all the wonderful paragraphs of information and history which is woven nicely through the story line. I really felt like I had been plunged into the middle of a centuries old battle of good and evil.
Overall, a very good fantasy story all fantasy lovers should devour. I am now going to see if I can hunt out the 2nd book to see what happens next in this gripping story.
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on 8 January 2015
I think the Alchemist series is probably the best book series I have ever read. I love mythology, history and to put that into modern day times with an amazing story makes this series the best.
The main characters are beautifully written and I understood the jealously and greed one of them goes through.
The book is not your normal fantasy because of the historic characters you know from history. Bringing them into our world and seeing how Michael Scott makes them behave makes you think would they act like this.
I read about the reasons why the book series was written and interestingly Nicholas Flamel was real and he did buy a strange copper bound book and he did go missing with an empty grave. He was an Alchemist which leaves a thought in your head whether he did discover Immortality.
Best Books I ever read
(I would post this under the last book but It was a gift so I can't review it.)
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on 27 June 2012
Maybe I am just reading too much of this genre, but I was not overly taken with this book. I have seen it often but ignored it for a long time because the name "Nicholas Flamel" made me (wrongly) believe it was riding on the coat tails of Harry Potter.

In fact this is an original tale using the quasi historical Flamel and just about every other mythological and quasi historical character to make a far reaching story about twins with special powers.

There is a good amount of orginal research in this book, but the story itself seemed to be very much like a number of other stories rehashed. Younger readers will probably not notice that or care, so recommended for young adults, but nothing deep or meaningful or highly original in this book.

Nevertheless don't take my words to heart. I mean - twins with special powers - that just has to be a book young adults will love.
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on 29 August 2011
The first book in the nicolas flamel series is very average, the writing is entertaining but never original and the characters are boring and 2D. There seems to be no real goal and the author never explains clearly enough the reasons behind the plot: an evil group of elders want to rule the world, something about a book and immortality. The plot is messy and the dialogue is cheesy, the creatures are interesting but there is way too many different ones to follow. This book is reminiscent of Percy Jackson but nowhere near as entertaining or original, instead it is a plodding, sometimes boring book that does adimittedly entertain but never makes me want to read another chapter let alone the second book. If you are looking for exciting fantasy fiction try Harry Potter, The Wardstone Chronicles or the Percy Jackson books.
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