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The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 22, 2007


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This Book Is Bound with "Deckle Edge" Paper
You may have noticed that some of our books are identified as "deckle edge" in the title. Deckle edge books are bound with pages that are made to resemble handmade paper by applying a frayed texture to the edges. Deckle edge is an ornamental feature designed to set certain titles apart from books with machine-cut pages. See a larger image.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: AWARDS: 2010-11 YARP South Dakota Reading List Middle School (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385733577
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385733571
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (538 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #149,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twin 15-year-old siblings Sophie and Josh Newman take summer jobs in San Francisco across the street from one another: she at a coffee shop, he at a bookstore owned by Nick and Perry Fleming. In the vey first chapter, armed goons garbed in black with "dead-looking skin and... marble eyes" (actually Golems) storm the bookshop, take Perry hostage and swipe a rare Book (but not before Josh snatches its two most important pages). The stolen volume is the Codex, an ancient text of magical wisdom. Nick Fleming is really Nicholas Flamel, the 14th-century alchemist who could turn base metal into gold, and make a potion that ensures immortality. Sophie and Josh learn that they are mentioned in the Codex's prophecies: "The two that are one will come either to save or to destroy the world." Mayhem ensues, as Irish author Scott draws on a wide knowledge of world mythology to stage a battle between the Dark Elders and their hired gun—Dr. John Dee—against the forces of good, led by Flamel and the twins (Sophie's powers are "awakened" by the goddess Hekate, who'd been living in an elaborate treehouse north of San Francisco). Not only do they need the Codex back to stop Dee and company, but the immortality potion must be brewed afresh every month. Time is running out, literally, for the Flamels. Proceeding at a breakneck pace, and populated by the likes of werewolves and vampires, the novel ends on a precipice, presumably to be picked up in volume two. Ages 12-up. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 6-9–Scott uses a gigantic canvas for this riveting fantasy. The well-worn theme of saving the world from the forces of evil gets a fresh look here as he incorporates ancient myth and legend and sets it firmly, pitch-perfect, in present-day California. At the emotional center of the tale are contemporary 15-year-old twins, Josh and Sophie, who, it turns out, are potentially powerful magicians. They are spoken of in a prophecy appearing in the ancient Book of Abraham the Mage, all but two pages of which have been stolen by evil John Dee, alchemist and magician. The pursuit of the twins and Flamel by Dee and his allies to get the missing pages constitutes the book's central plot. Amid all this exhilarating action, Scott keeps his sights on the small details of character and dialogue and provides evocative descriptions of people, mythical beings, and places. He uses as his starting point the figures of the historical alchemist Nicholas Flamel and his wife, who have found the secret of immortality, along with mythical beings, including the terrifying Scottish crow-goddess, the Morrigan; the three-faced Greek Hekate; the powerful Egyptian cat-goddess, Bastet; and Scathach, a legendary Irish woman warrior and vegetarian vampire. While there is plenty here to send readers rushing to their encyclopedias of mythology and alchemy, those who read the book at face value will simply be caught up in the enthralling story. A fabulous read.–Sue Giffard, Ethical Culture Fieldston School, New York City
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Customer Reviews

This book is very interesting to read.
Grant
Michael Scott has done a fantastic job with the research and character development- I'll say that much- also, he has a brilliant imagination.
Orthodork
I highly, highly recommend this series to anyone that enjoys fantasy books.
Keeley Frank

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

153 of 167 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on May 29, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
They say that out of the mouths of babes...etc. In this case, I borrowed a book from a grandson. He was right. This is a terrific story and a great family adventure. I see that some of these reviews, in fact, most were not necessarily written by young adults. It's always clear. And though I kept in mind as I was reading that this was not specifically addressed to my generation, still I fell under the considerable spell of a really good story which transcended age. When I see a review getting very very literal and probing,even"erudite" I must say, I have my doubts as to the reviewers intentions. I was up for a good read, plain and simple and I got it. The ability for young readers to Google every single character except the twins is unparalleled in fiction. My grandson showed me how and what could be more engaging. It lends a life beyond the story. Great!
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37 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Chaz J. Robbins on July 1, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It seems reviewers always forget a MAJOR aspect when reading a series, especially a YA fiction series.......................... You will NEVER get all the answers in the first book!!!!!!!!!! DUH!!!! If it's a series it's MEANT to be broken in to lots of pieces and make you wonder the obvious. JK Rowling did it with Harry and many other authors have done it with their respective series'. Repetition is also consistent in many FIRST books of a series to make sure you remember WHO your reading about, the role in the story this character portrays, and the importance of remembering details.

This series cannot be compared to Harry Potter!!!!!!!!! These are two different storylines and two different types of authors! M.T.S. is a REAL historian, while Rowling had a story come to her on napkins in a cafe. Both found inspiration in COMPLETELY different ways!!

I find the book to be a breath of fresh air. Historical figures left and right, good introduction for a first part in a series, and true to style in the YA Fiction world (grown ups get over yourselves and your supposed intelligence level). The twins represent a ying and yang (silver and gold) in my opinion being very different but alike at the same time. The guidance provided by Nicholas and his band of friends, mysterious as they all are, keeps it interesting as well.

When you start a book, no matter how hard, FINISH IT!! Then, and only then, will your review have any kind of significant weight.
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By SheilaJG on June 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
My son picked this up at the bookstore (the cover is quite fetching) and I, his mother, couldn't resist reading it. He is a big Lightening Thief fan, so the possibility of more mythology was a big hit. How funny that both books pick Mount Tamalpais in Marin as an area of god-like importance.

The book hooks you from the start with a suspenseful scene. Later, I thought rough spots were a little too conveniently solved by a suddenly appearing power, so that you never felt they were actually in danger.

But I still enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel.
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50 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 8, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Fifteen-year-old twins Sophie and Josh Newman don't believe in legends. What good would it do them anyway? Their parents are away the whole summer on one of their archeological digs, and right now all the twins care about is working hard at their new summer jobs to save money for their own car. By some stroke of luck, they find jobs in San Francisco across the street from each other --- Sophie at The Coffee Cup and Josh at The Small Book Shop. Books and coffee, an ideal combination if ever there was one.

On the surface, Nick Fleming and his lovely wife Perry seem like your typical bookstore owners. But then a strange group of men step out of a limousine at the curb, gray-faced golems lumber into the shop, the air smells like peppermint and rotten eggs, and explosive balls of energy get hurled through the air. Before Josh and Sophie even figure out what's happening, Nick and his wife kidnap them for their own good and flee the scene worried for their lives.

It seems that Josh's boss is not who he claims to be. Nick and Perry are really Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel, and their secrets don't stop there. Records show that Nicholas Flamel was widely regarded as the greatest Alchemyst of all time. His wife died first, and in 1418 he followed her to the grave, nearly 600 years ago. If all this is true, then why are their graves empty?

Somehow, the Alchemyst is still alive.

Rarely have I read a novel that accomplishes as much as THE ALCHEMYST. By the author's own admission, the twins are the only invented characters; everyone else is grounded in history and mythology. The famous alchemyst Nicholas Flamel really married Perenelle. John Dee studied as his apprentice. The mysterious Book of Abraham was a real book made of bark.
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Format: Paperback
I don’t even know where to start. There may be minor spoilers, I’m really sorry about that.

Frankly, I very nearly DNFed the book. It was a close call. I probably should have, but I always feel bad about DNFing – what if it gets better? In the end I really did want to know how the plot goes on, but if I’m honest with myself, I wasted days on a book I didn’t enjoy. The plot was alright, I suppose. I wouldn’t have put the book on my TBR if I hadn’t been interested, after all. After all it is called The Alchemyst, so you bet I’m interested. Alchemy? Hell yeah. It didn’t quite turn out that way. It just wasn’t what I thought it would be. For one thing I thought it would be set at some point in the past. I don’t know why, but it was ages ago when I put it on my TBR, so heaven knows what I had been thinking. Turns out that the book is not set in ye olde times, but that was fine. I was cool with that. And it started out fine too.

There’s Sophie, who works in a coffee shop, and Josh, who works in the bookshop across the street. Sophie observes something shady going on while talking to her friend. It started out great! – But it didn’t continue that way. If the author wouldn’t have specifically said that they were 15-year-old twins at one point, I would’ve pegged Sophie for early twenties, and Josh for about six years old considering his behaviour. There’s Nick Fleming – Nicholas Flamel – who owns the bookshop Josh works in over the summer.

And then there is a whole lot of mess. The story was alright-ish, but it felt very choppy and just randomly put together. There was a golden thread but it might have just been coincidence that it worked.

In general I enjoyed the idea of this book, but reading it was very very exhausting.
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More About the Author

"Some stories wait their turn to be told, others just tap you on the shoulder and insist you tell them."

By one of those wonderful coincidences with which life is filled, I find that the first time the word alchemyst--with a Y--appears in my notes is in May 1997. Ten years later, almost to the day, The Alchemyst, the first book in the Nicholas Flamel series, will be published in May.

Every writer I know keeps a notebook full of those ideas, which might, one day, turn into a story. Most writers know they will probably never write the vast majority of those ideas. Most stories wait their turn to be told, but there are a few which tap you on the shoulder and insist on being told. These are the stories which simply will not go away until you get them down on paper, where you find yourself coming across precisely the research you need, or discovering the perfect character or, in my case, actually stumbling across Nicholas Flamel's house in Paris.

Discovering Flamel's house was the final piece I needed to put the book together. It also gave me the character of Nicholas Flamel because, up to that point, the book was without a hero.

And Nicholas Flamel brought so much to the story.

Nicholas Flamel was one of the most famous alchemists of his day. He was born in 1330 and earned his living as a bookseller, which, by another of those wonderful coincidences, was the same job I had for many years.

One day he bought a book, the same book mentioned in The Alchemyst: the Book of Abraham. It, too, really existed and Nicholas Flamel left us with a very detailed description of the copper-bound book. Although the book itself is lost, the illustrations from the text still exist.

Accompanied by his wife Perenelle, Nicholas spent more than 20 years trying to translate book. He must have succeeded. He became extraordinarily wealthy and used some of his great wealth to found hospitals, churches, and orphanages. Perhaps he had discovered the secret of the Philosopher's Stone: how to turn base metal into gold.

Of course the greatest mystery linked to Nicholas Flamel is the story of what happened after he died. When his tomb was opened by thieves looking for some of his great wealth, it was found to be empty. Had Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel been buried in secret graves, or had they never died in the first place? In the months and years to follow, sightings of the Flamels were reported all over Europe. Had Nicholas also discovered that other great mystery of alchemy: the secret of immortality?

What writer couldn't resist a story that combined magical books, an immortal magician and grave robbing and, even more excitingly, that had a basis in fact? It begged the questions: if he was still alive today, where would he be and what would he be doing? Obvious really--he would be running a bookshop in San Francisco.

The Alchemyst was a tough book to write, probably the toughest of all the books I've done so far. It is the first in a series, and because the story told across all six books is so tightly integrated, keeping track of the characters and events means that I have to keep extensive and detailed notes. A minor change in book one could impact dramatically book three. There are tiny clues seeded into the first book that pay off in later books. The time frame for the entire series is very tight--The Alchemyst, for example, takes place over two days--so I too need to keep an hour-by-hour breakdown of events.

For people who like to know the practicalities, I write every day and sometimes all day and often long into the night. Nights really are the best time for writing. It's that time the conscious side of the brain is starting to shut down and the unconscious takes over. The following day I'll read what I've written the previous day, then edit and rewrite. I work on two computer screens; the story on one screen, notes and research on the second screen.

And now let me answer the question you are about to ask me because, sooner or later, everyone asks, "What is the secret of writing?"

A comfortable chair. A really comfortable chair--because if you're a writer, you're going to spend a lot of time sitting in it.

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The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
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