The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel – the series
by Michael Scott
The Alchemyst, The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock and The Enchantress all refer to the group of immortals who are engaged in the battle between the Elder Powers who either want to allow humanity their independence or to return and rule the Earth. It is an amalgam of mythology and history inter-dimensionally and across time. At its core the series explores the good within evil and the evil within good. It is a treatise on what it really means to be a member of the human race.
I reviewed the first book, The Alchemyst, and said that I hoped the teenage twins grew up soon. The entire series takes place over just a few short weeks so aging, at least for the teens, is not an option. Luckily they are given dramatic and life-shifting experiences. As they develop new skills they leave behind the teenage angst for life and death problems. The writing improves as Scott worries less and less about making them seem “typical” American teens.
The character development of the teens remains slightly awkward. For instance Sophie acquires knowledge of a number of current and obscure languages in a short time. In one scene she is translating and in the next she doesn’t seem to understand what is being said around her. Their shifting alliances and questioning of authority is both their weakness and their strength.
As I said in an earlier review, Michael Scott knows his mythology. He has chosen his Gods and Immortals well. These characters are not dependent on a readers knowledge. They are well fleshed out, each with their own personalities and agendas. It was never clear what happens when one of the Elder Powers is killed, if they really die forever, but there are certainly repercussions across the dimensions.
Even the mythological beasts are carefully chosen, both for their violence and perhaps for their obscurity. Scott has his own take on vampires and the were clans, which has a historical basis. He writes a pre-historical Atlantis and admits to an authors indulgence when he credits the Tuatha De Danann their origin there.
As his characters and eventually the story runs back and forth in time, Scott never addresses directly the typical science fiction time line paradox. Apparently in this world everyone, including the Gods, believes that going back in time you can change the future.
Each one of the books in the series explores a little of the background of one of the Immortals involved with the teens. The titles do not explicitly identify which immortal they refer to, but the stories make strong suggestions. It’s a clever contrivance and yet another way to keep the reader engaged in the series.
I remained throughout more interested in the other characters than I was in the twins. By the end I did want to know what happened to them both in their future and throughout history. I got the answer directly about one of them, but had to make some guesses about the other. The Flamels question their own righteousness in the end but they believe they truly did their best and they did it together.
I am not sorry I worked my way through the whole series. They were enjoyable rainy day books. Scott does have an occasional “lost story” published about some of the immortals that were not as well developed in this series. Maybe on another rainy day I’ll pick them up.