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The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Paperback – June 24, 2008


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The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Series
See all of the books in Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 890L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Alchemyst: The Secret of The Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Ember; Reprint edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385736002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385736008
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (468 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,404 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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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.

Amazon Author Rankbeta 

(What's this?)
#98 in Books > Teens
#98 in Books > Teens

Customer Reviews

This book is very interesting to read.
Grant
I recommend this book and this series to Harry Potter fans, young adults, and anyone who loves to see myth and legend come to life.
baseballblondie
One of the biggest problems with the plot is that the solutions to the main character's problems are very absurd.
Jackie MacDonald

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

146 of 160 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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31 of 35 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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23 of 26 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. When "soldiers in the tattered blues and greys of Civil War uniforms" popped out of a cemetary in California, I was a little disappointed. I'm no student of history, but I live in California and haven't seen too many Civil War battle sites around here. Um. None actually.

But I still enjoyed the book and look forward to the sequel.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Angela M. Weir on June 17, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read to my son since he was less than 2 hours old. It's always been my thing. I'm a huge book lover and have been my entire life. I can remember, and actually still have, the very first chapter book I ever read. So imagine my surprise when my son, who is now 11, does not like to read. He's a good reader, he comprehends what he's reading well, and has consistently gotten A's in reading...however he will very rarely pick up a book on his own and actually read it. Over the years I've allowed him to read those gaming guides just to ensure that he was reading something...I checked them over and the words are hard and the books themselves require some extra research so I thought "why not". I've read him the Harry Potter series, my personal favorite, and I've read him other fictional books to no avail. No spark. Until I picked up these books by Michael Scott about Nicholas Flamel...I have this big comfy over stuffed chair in my room and we put on only the reading light...get cozy and he eats them up. They are a wonderful series for older boys who are gamers at heart - little character development (which is all Harry Potter is) and tons of action (the true action in Harry Potter always comes at the end of a book). It has magic, humor, and tons of destruction - a boy's dream. Try them sometime if your boy, like my boy, requires constant and never ending action in his books and games but doesn't want all the reflection and emotion of Harry Potter!
What I always loved the most about Harry Potter was how JK seemed to seamlessly mix true historical figures and mythological beasts into this fantasy world she's created. She holds nothing to Scott. His world is not only entirely made of these characters they are amazingly important to the book. My son has begun taking names out of the book and researching them online - additional reading! Just a great book for those kids that love magic, action, and fact!! A wonderful blend.
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48 of 62 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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