The Alchemyst by Michael Scott
Digital Audiobook narrated by Denis O'Hare
Published by Listening Library on May 22nd 2007
Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #1
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Magic, Young Adult
Length: 390 pages or 10 hours, 2 minutes
Goodreads • Amazon • Barnes & Noble • Book Depository • IndieBound
Nicholas Flamel was born in Paris on 28 September 1330. Nearly seven hundred 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 and Nicholas Flamel lives. 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. And 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.
Something strange is happening at the bookshop across the street.
Sophie watches through the window of the tea shop as a magical battle ensues. By the end of the hour, her and her twin brother finds themselves wrapped up in an adventure beyond their wildest dreams. There are warlocks and golems and alchemists and ancient people. One small problem? Sophie and Josh just want to go home. They’re only 15 and a half and this is an awfully big adventure.
What they want doesn’t matter, however. There is something deeper, something far more important going on, and the twins may just be at the center of it all.
This book isn’t particularly original, but it is interesting.
It’s the same story we’ve heard before – there are twins. Twins are the chosen ones. They must be trained. Lots of running away from the bad guys. All this is stuff we’ve seen before in fantasy – in fact, it’s a lot of very common tropes rolled together in one. That’s alright, I suppose. They’re tried and true, if not particularly original.
What I really liked about the story was the mythology in it. With a title like The Alchemyst it’s expected that things will be a bit unusual. Michael Scott has woven in so many different mythologies as support for this one, and I think it’s fantastic. Our major players are from Greek, Egyptian, and Celtic mythology. We see Greek fairly often, but Celtic? I could count on one hand the number of fantasy novels that incorporate that particular pantheon. I loved that aspect.
There’s a lot of “I’ll tell you later” and it’s exasperating.
If I have one major pet peeve about novels, it’s when they start with loads of action and refuse to explain what’s going on until 75% of the book is through. Not immersing you in the story – I’m talking about actual interchanges of: “What’s happening?” and “I can’t tell you now; it’s too dangerous.” It’s like the author is saying “WAIT HOLD ON I’VE GOT THIS REALLY BIG PLOT TWIST AND IT’S COMING HAHA YOU ARE AT MY MERCY.” I mean, you can more or less figure it all out early on, but the dragging along of other characters is just annoying really.
I honestly felt the writing was a bit flat. I really appreciated the use of olfactory senses (smell) into the narration, but otherwise there were so many pieces of recycled dialogue, I feel like the story could have been half this length. Also unnecessary character deaths? Not ones you’re brokenhearted about, but more like “I’m not sure why that happened, there were 489357 ways to avoid it.”
As a kid, I would have loved this.
Unfortunately, while some children books translate over as light reads for adults very well, The Alchemyst is not one of them. The mythology here was really interesting, but the whole things was a bit juvenile. Which is fine, since that’s the target audience.
All in all I think I would recommend this book to someone between the ages of 9-13, but otherwise this series gets a skip from me. It’s an interesting idea, but not very gripping and therefore not worth it to me to read the rest of the series. I do think that young fans of Percy Jackson would enjoy this one.