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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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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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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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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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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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on 21 October 2010
If the rest of Scott's 'Nicholas Flamel' series turns out to be as good as this, I will be a very happy reader... It opens with Sophie and Josh, fifteen year-old twins living and working in San Francisco, being inadvertently caught up in a magical battle between a dapper stranger and Josh's usually laid-back boss, bookseller Nick Fleming. Nick's wife Perry is snatched away by the sinister man's unnatural henchmen, along with a mysterious book, and though they can hardly believe their eyes, the twins stand their ground to help their friend escape.

Fleeing the scene, Nick reveals his true identity to the twins. He is Nicholas Flamel, the famous alchemist, and he and his wife Perenelle are immortal thanks to the knowledge contained in the Book of Abraham the Mage, also known as the Codex. The evil man is John Dee, who has been searching for the book for hundreds of years. As well as the secrets of alchemy and immortal life, the book contains hundreds of other prophecies and spells, which Dee intends to use to bring back the Dark Elders, a fearful race of god-like beings exiled from the world centuries ago. The only hope for humanity - and Perenelle - is a pair of twins who appear in the book's prophecies, representing Sun and Moon, gold and silver. Sophie and Josh's lives are about to change forever...

It's really quite a complex story, and I loved it! The action never lets up for a moment, and as the novel goes on the reader is introduced to more and more characters, and more and more magical lore. Scatty, an ancient warrior who looks (and behaves!) like a feisty teenage girl, joins the group and becomes one of the main characters. Some of the Elders are introduced, including Hekate, an immensely powerful woman who lives in a giant tree and ages from a young girl to an old lady each day, and the Morrigan, also known as the Crow Goddess. All kinds of mythical heroes and creatures are woven into this new world, creating an entire alternate history of the Earth rich in philosophy and steeped in magic.

As I mentioned earlier, reading 'The Alchemyst' reminded me very much of my first reading of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'. After the initial chapter, where I wondered what on earth was going on, I was completely swept away. Like Harry Potter, a huge part of the book's draw comes from the revelation of the wonders of an entirely new magical world existing alongside our own, surprising the human protagonists and the reader alike. The plot is exciting and fast-paced, bringing new allies, adversaries and experiences at every turn.

I can't wait to get started on the next book in the series, 'The Magician' - and I highly recommend this to any of the post-Potter generation who fancy adding a little magic back into their lives!
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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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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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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.
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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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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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