The Magician (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel #2) by Michael Scott
Delacorte Press, 2008
Ashes to ashes…
In the hands of Dr. John Dee and the Dark Elders, the book of Abraham the Mage could mean the destruction of the world as we know it. The most powerful book of all time, it holds the secret of eternal life — a secret more dangerous than any one man should ever possess. And Dee is two pages away from the knowledge that would bring the Dark Elders into ultimate power.
His only obstacle? Josh and Sophie Newman — who are eight thousand miles away.
After fleeing Ojai, Nicholas, Sophie, Josh, and Scatty emerge in Paris. The City of Lights. Home to Nicholas Flamel. Only, this homecoming is anything but sweet.
Niccolo Machiavelli, immortal author and celebrated art collector, is working for Dee. He’s in hot pursuit, and time is running out for Nicholas and Perenelle. Every day they spend without the book, they age one year: their magic becomes weaker and their bodies more frail. For Flamel, the Prophecy is growing clearer and clearer. It’s time for Sophie to learn the second elemental magic.
And there’s only one man who can teach it to her: Flamel’s old student the Comte de Saint-Germain – alchemist, magician, and rock star.
Josh and Sophie Newman are the world’s only hope. If they don’t turn on each other first.
First, here’s an explanation of my reading history on this book. I started reading this book last May, then set it aside in June, lost it for a while, and found it again, only to put it off for a few more months until a couple weeks ago, when I finally decided to just finish it. This should probably tell you that I was not completely in love with this book, although upon finishing it I liked it well enough. It does not compare, in my personal opinion, to the first book, which I really enjoyed, but, of course, your mileage may vary.
This book picks up right after the end of The Alchemyst and suffers from a syndrome called “too much action”. I felt like these characters were shoved from one emergency into the next with very little time to breathe. This is to be expected, of course, because this whole series of books is supposed to take place over the course of a week or so (maybe more; I can’t remember), and the twins – Josh and Sophie – are at the very center of a battle between good and evil. However, Josh annoys me, almost to the point where I want to reach through the pages and hit him. He for some reason feels like Dee (the Magician of the title, and the enemy of Flamel) is the more trustworthy of the two magicians he’s been exposed to, although he has absolutely no reason to think this. His distrust of Flamel is likewise strange, because Flamel really hasn’t done anything to make Josh think he shouldn’t trust him. And now Josh’s feelings are starting to rub off on Sophie, and the whole thing is just irritating.
I did like the introduction of Joan and Saint-Germain (who is fabulous!), didn’t see the twist with Scatty coming, and also liked the character of Machiavelli. I don’t know what to think about him, and will be intrigued to see just how far he goes in his “evilness”, if you will, especially since he clearly doesn’t like Dee and seems to have more qualms and morals, although that’s not exactly saying much. I also desperately want to know who Dee’s Elder is. I find it sad, however, that Dee has forgotten that he, too, was once human, and is willing to sacrifice pretty much everyone to reach his ultimate goal (i.e. bring the Elders back to power).
I loved the chapters with Perenelle and wish we could see more of her. Maybe we will in the next book, since it’s called The Sorceress, and that’s what everyone calls Perenelle. She is the epitome of a strong female character and I can’t help but love her and root her on. I will be interested to see how she gets out of the tight spot she’s in.
One other thing I’ve noticed, which is another reason I want to smack Josh, is that everyone who is so-called “good” has nice-smelling auras; Flamel’s smells like mint, Sophie’s like vanilla, Josh’s like oranges, Joan’s like lavender, and Saint-Germain’s like burnt leaves, whereas everyone who is bad has horrible-smelling auras (Dee’s smells like rotten eggs, Machiavelli’s like serpents, etc.). To me this should help him realize whose side he should really be on, not to mention the fact that Dee wants to reawaken the Elders, who will basically end human civilization (much like Gaea’s wish in the Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan). It seems pretty straightforward to me that this is Not A Good Idea.
I was intrigued about all the catacomb stuff, although this wasn’t the first book that I’d read that introduced me to the subject (the first 39 Clues book was aptly called The Maze of Bones), but liked the tidbit about the lost Roman city and will have to Wikipedia it to learn more. BIGGER SPOILER (highlight to read): I also want to know what happened to make Mars change into such a bloodthirsty nasty god (and what exactly the curse is that the Witch of Endor put on him, and what it entails), and exactly what it was that he passed on to Josh, and what he meant by “he’s not your brother anymore”. It probably shouldn’t surprise you that the scene with him was my favorite bit, just because of the clashing mythologies. Scott’s knowledge of all the mythologies he’s using in this story is truly amazing. (Although his version of Phobos and Deimos annoyed me, but that’s simply because it doesn’t equate with Rick Riordan’s version, and is my issue, not his.)
Anyway, this book was okay, and lots of folks will probably enjoy it, but it wasn’t a favorite for me personally by any means. I will continue to read the rest of them, mostly because I have all the ones that have been released thus far, but won’t be diving into book three any time soon. I can already tell that Josh is going to continue to annoy me, there’s going to be more non-stop danger (book three starts off with Flamel and the twins trying to get away from Flesh-eaters, yuck), and I just really can do without that right now. Saint-Germain and Perenelle saved this book for me, so hopefully there will be other new characters (or returning characters) that will do the same for the others. I guess we’ll see.