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The Sorceress (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, May 26, 2009

4.7 out of 5 stars 268 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The third book in Michael Scott's "Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel" series, The Sorceress, kicks the action up to a whole new level. Adding to the series' menagerie of immortal humans ("humani") and mythological beasts, the book picks up where The Magician left off: the immortal Nicholas Flamel (of The Alchemyst) and the twins, Sophie and Josh, have just arrived at St. Pancras international train station in London. Almost immediately, they're confronted with a demonic bounty hunter that immortal magician John Dee has sent their way. At the same time, Dee's occasional cohort, Niccolo Machiavelli, decides to focus his energy on Perenelle Flamel, the Alchemyst's wife, who has been imprisoned at Alcatraz since the beginning of the series. In this book, Perenelle gets a chance to show off her sorcery and resourcefulness, fighting and forging alliances with ghosts, beasts, and the occasional Elder to try and find a way out of her predicament and back to Flamel. Scott is as playful as ever, introducing new immortals--famous figures from history who (surprise!) are still alive. He also adds to the roster of fantastical beasts, which already includes such intriguing foes as Bastet, the Egyptian cat goddess, and the Morrigan, or Crow Goddess. Raising the stakes with each installment, Scott deftly manages multiple story lines and keeps everything moving pretty quickly, making this third book a real page-turner. More than just another piece in the puzzle of the whole series, The Sorceress is an adventure in its own right, and will certainly leave series fans wanting more. --Heidi Broadhead

Amazon.com Exclusive: An Interview with Author Michael Scott

Q: What was your inspiration for the series—was it the legend of the Flamels and the Book of Abraham? Did Dee figure in from the start?

Scott: The story really started with Dr. John Dee and, for a long time, he was the hero of the series. I had written about Dee before in my horror novels, Image, (Sphere, UK, 1991), Reflection, (Sphere, UK, 1993) and then The Merchant Prince (Pocket Books, USA, 2000). Dee was a fascinating man, but he was never “right” for the lead character: he was always too dark, too troubled.

I know I started to develop the series on May 18th, 1997, because that is the first time the word “Alchemyst” with the “Y” appears in my notebooks. However, it was really three years later, in late September 2000, when I was in Paris and stumbled across Nicholas Flamel’s house in the Rue de Montmorency that the series really came together. I knew a lot about Flamel and the legendary Book of Abraham and, sitting in Flamel’s home, which is now a wonderful restaurant, I realized that here was the hero for my series.

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 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.

Over the course of his long life, Flamel became extraordinarily wealthy, and used his wealth to found churches, hospitals and schools. Both he and his wife, Perenelle, were very well known in France and across Europe. The streets named after them, the Rue Flamel and the Rue Perenelle, still exist in Paris today.

Q: I was excited to see The Sorceress showing off more of Perenelle. How much does the real Perenelle Flamel influence the character of Perenelle?

Scott: We know little about the historical Perenelle. There are a few solid facts however and I have incorporated them into the story: she was older than Nicholas (there is even the suggestion that she might have been a widow when she married him), and she was also wealthier. It is also abundantly clear that she was the dominant character in the marriage and there is some evidence to suggest that she was an alchemist in her own right.

Q: What's coming up next?

Scott: Coming up next... well, book 4 brings up back to the west coast of America and San Francisco. And then we head south towards LA (but if I tell you any more I’ll reveal a couple of big surprises!) However, I will tell you that I am just back from a weekend in London where I spent most of Saturday wandering around Covent Garden. You’ll find out why in The Necromancer.

Q: The most fun thing about the series, I think, is how you reveal new immortals as you go along (e.g., Machiavelli, Joan of Arc... I won’t spoil your reveals in The Sorceress, but they’re surprising). How do you decide which famous figure from history will be your next immortal?

Scott: Thank you for not revealing some of the surprises!

Once I had plotted the series, I had a rough idea of the type of characters I wanted to include. My settings—the United States, France and England—suggested certain types of characters. I could not write about Paris, for example, and not include Joan. But there were other characters—Scathach is the perfect example—who was there right from the very beginning. Again, she was someone I had written about before in my early collections of Irish folklore and knew that I wanted to use again.

Also, because this series is based upon legend, mythology and history, it put in place certain rules: the only “created” characters in the series are the twins, Sophie and Josh. Everyone else existed.

Q: You’ve written for adults and young adults—and this series certainly seems to have crossed over into an adult readership. Is the experience any different when you’re writing for younger readers? Do you find that younger readers have a stronger connection to the work, for example?

Scott: I have always written for both adults and young adults, but you are right, the Flamel series has crossed over in an extraordinary way. Writing for young adults requires a certain precision in language. Adults have a body of shared knowledge and information that young adults do not. I can make allusions and references in my adult writing that young adults might not get. My young adult writing tends to be much more descriptive and I will take the time to describe people, places and situations to allow the younger readers to become fully involved in the world.

Younger readers are certainly attracted to the adventure and are thrilled to realize what when they go online they can find out all sorts of additional information about all the characters. The older readers tend to ask more specific questions about the mythological characters.

Q: How is this series different from other young adult books that you’ve written?

Scott: This is the most intricate and ambitious work I’ve done. The six books will take place in less than a month so everything has to knit and mesh together. The notes for this series are now bigger than the books themselves. I have said before that there is nothing accidental in the books. What might look like an inconsistency, for example, is often a clue to something that will happen later on. Because I’ve plotted the entire series, it gives me huge freedom to plant seeds and clues to later events.

Q: Of all the forms you write in—novels, scripts, nonfiction—do you have a favorite?

Scott: Novels. It is the only one of the three where you are in complete control. With a script, for example, everyone has a say and what you see on screen only vaguely resembles what you’ve written.

Q: What’s your favorite genre (to write and to read)?

Scott: I love writing fantasy—and it’s what I read most. However, my rule is when I’m writing fantasy, I will read anything but fantasy. So I end up reading a lot of crime—I’ve got the new John Connolly on the desk to read next—and I’m a huge John Sandford fan. The research for this series is huge (but it’s the part I really enjoy), so I do find myself reading some terribly odd non-fiction.

Q: Have all six of the books in the series already been written? If so, what are you working on now? Is it strange to revisit each of the books as they come out?

Scott: They have all been plotted, but not written. I’m close to the end of The Necromancer now and little bits of book 5, The Warlock, and even the end of book 6, The Enchantress, have been written.

I am also writing and researching a new series, not linked to the Flamel series, which I’m having a lot of fun with. All I’ll say is that it also has its roots in myth. The oddest part of revisiting the books is when I tour. Usually I am touring and reading from a book I finished many months previously. I have to be careful not to reveal any of the forthcoming surprises when I take questions.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10–The third book takes up immediately where The Magician (Delacorte, 2008) left off, and the events described occur over the course of a week. Having fled a destroyed Paris, Nicolas Flamel and the twins are now in England with their every move being tracked by John Dee, the Dark Elders, and their denizens, who are now convinced that Sophie and Josh are the twins of legend. In the meantime, Flamel's wife, Perenelle, the titular sorceress, is attempting to escape Alcatraz. Joined first by the knight Palamedes, and then by William Shakespeare, Flamel and the children try to stay ahead of their pursuers in an attempt to reach Stonehenge, where they hope to find a gate that will allow them to get to San Francisco. In the midst of evading pursuit, Josh finally gets the knowledge of an elemental power, Water Magic, from the insane Elder Gilgamesh, which, of course, conveniently becomes valuable. The chase and escape plots are rather thin and highlight the fact that this series feels bloated, and probably doesn't need the six long volumes the author is planning to tell the story. The inclusion of historical characters such as Shakespeare and Billy the Kid seems primarily a gimmick, and these two characters in particular feel oddly anachronistic. This book is a must-read for fans of the series, but even they will tire if the author doesn't get to the point with reasonable dispatch.–Tim Wadham, St. Louis County Library, MO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel (Book 3)
  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (May 26, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385735294
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385735292
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,341 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Julia R. Pike on May 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I have been wating for this book for about a year now, and it was well worth the wait. I read it in one sitting. This series is fast paced, inventive, and full of very developed characters. As an adult reader, I could obviously tell the book was written for a younger set, but it is just something to remember when judging this book and the rest of the series. The only bad thing I can say is that I am not looking forward to waiting another year for the forth.
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Format: Hardcover
These are fast-paced can't put it down until your finished kind of books, and this edition to the series is no exception. However, I find myself wanting a lot more from them and the world that Scott is creating.

Don't get me wrong, I really do love these books, but I have a lot of general qualms with them. I want more magic, and I want to know how the magic is being created. When we all were transported to Hogwarts, there was an explanation of how the magic worked throughout the world, which had very particular rules about what one can do when and how long it takes to acquire that knowledge.

So, ok, I know that Scott is not trying to recreate the Potter world, but it would be nice to know what rules the magic of this world operates from. The best explanation that we get at any point from either of the twins is, "I don't know, somehow you just know how to do it." I think this is a travesty and is missing out on a crucial element of drawing us into the story. How are they developing these abilities? How do they feel as they're creating the magic?

Every once in a while we get a peek into the whole thing, but it's not nearly often enough. Even the other immortals have cool spells that I'd like to get a little more depth on. Most of the time, they simply say, a shaman taught me this, or I learned this from Circe. You learned what from Circe? Is it a spell that you say? How are you creating the magic?

Anyway, past all that, it's a fun read and, in my opinion, more engaging than the first two. Josh and Sophie have generally become less whiney and are starting to jump into this whole being special and having magical abilities thing. Also, not to spoil it, but there's an interesting plot twist that happens right at the end of the book.

-Lindsey Miller, lindseyslibrary
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was excited to feed my Harry Potter book worm with a spin-off of the series. 'The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel' series is based on J.K Rowling's character of the same name in the Harry Potter books who partners with Dumbeldore. Nicholas Flamel creates the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's stone and he and his wife live to incredible old age--without aging. 'The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel', due to copyright infringements, does not enter the Wizarding World in any way.

Having stated that, I need to stress that the only reason I searched this book out and opened the cover was because of it's tie in with Rowling's tales. I want to be very clear with others that may have the same impression that this work continues to delve into Harry Potter's expanded Wizarding World, that it doesn't.

I've apparently touched a nerve with fans of Scott's work with my review.
I did read the entire series.
I did not love it.
I didn't hate it.
It was okay.

I will mention the impression the author gives of Perenelle's hair having human qualities when she's riled, the tie-in with Yggdrasile, the life tree, that spans different worlds and myths woven within the series, and the various global, magical locations and their connections with lay-lines, have left an impression on me, just not an epic, Harry Potter impression. Which, was what I assumed when I learned the intentional tie-in.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The cast of characters from the Alchemist is carried forward in this new novel. If you want constant action of wizards with magical powers this novel is for you. However, if you are looking for action with a substantive plot then you might try other novels. The author writes well and has a cast of characters, which is more than sufficient for the basis of an excellent novel.

The sorceress Perenelle is trapped in Alcatraz, where she fights an endless series of battles with evil creatures. Her husband, Nicholas Flamel and the twins, are in England fighting a series of endless battles with their archenemies Dee and Machiavelli, who seem to have an endless supply of evil creatures at their disposal. I remember reading a review of a fast-paced action filled novel, which stated "action does not a plot maketh." Such is the case in this novel. Perenelle is slowly but surely losing her power, but seems to be able to conjure up a new trick to defeat the current evil creature. There is never any sense that she her life is truly in peril. The same is true with Flamel and the twins. The "Ancient Powers" who command Dee and Machiavelli are never clearly delineated, and at times create confusion that does not add to the plot. If I sound like a disappointed reader, I am. I think the battles could've been whittled down and the plot moved forward, taking the twins to their inevitable fates, which are of greater interest than the squabbles among the bad guys.
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