The Sorceress, by Michael Scott
Nicholas Flamel has been an extremely popular alchemist of late. Although perhaps most famously featuring as the eponymous philosopher in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, it is in Michael Scott’s excellent The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series that the man himself takes centre stage. The Nicholas Flamel of Scott’s imagining began life as a humble bookseller who, approximately five hundred years ago, happened upon a copy of the Book of Abraham the Mage, a book written in an ever-changing language that contains all the knowledge of humanity. The book contained passages concerning an ancient race known as the Elders and their prophecy that one day twins would come who were destined to either save the world or to destroy it. Prophecies such as these are never quite as clear as you would like.
Over the course of the previous two books in the series, The Alchemyst and The Magician, Flamel has come to believe that twins Sophie and Josh Newman are the twins spoken of in the prophecy and he has sought to train and prepare them for the upcoming battle. Before either of the twins are able to fully realise their potential, their powers must be awaken and so Flamel is guiding them as they travel the world seeking the people – not all of them human – who can Awaken them. Things have been further complicated by the fact that Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle have been maintaining their youth for centuries by brewing a monthly batch of the immortality potion detailed in the Book of Abraham the Mage but, with the book lost and the recipe for the potion being different every month, they have begun to age and time seems to be running out for Flamel.
In The Sorceress, Nicholas Flamel realises that he must risk taking Sophie and Josh to London to seek help from the oldest of the immortal humans, Gilgamesh the King, the master of the element of water. Flamel decides to keep to himself the fact that Gilgamesh is now insane, reasoning that, although he can no longer use his own powers, he can still Awaken the twins. Gilgamesh seems to be the last hope for the twins since, if he cannot help them, they will be unable to return home to San Francisco using the Ley Lines and will be trapped in London, the stronghold of their enemy Doctor John Dee. Flamel enlists the help of Palamedes, a Saracen Knight, and his roommate William Shakespeare (the ‘Roommate Wanted’ advert that brought the two of them together must have been powerful reading) and together they manage to contact Perenelle. She is being held captive on Alcatraz with the spider elder Areop-Enap but did manage to defeat the Morrigan before being captured.
As an army of poison flies attacks and wounds Areop-Enap, Perenelle must contend with the combined evil of Billy the Kid and Machiavelli who have formed a rather improbable tag team with the intention of destroying her once and for all. Back in London, Flamel and the twins have their own battle to fight. The Elders have awoken the Archon, the legendary Horned God who leads the Wild Hunt. So as Perenelle fights for her freedom in San Francisco, Flamel and the twins, along with Palamedes and Shakespeare, must hold their ground against the Archon and his wolf people until they can persuade Gilgamesh to come to their aid.
The Sorceress may well sound terribly twisting and convoluted from the above summary but, while it would certainly be advisable to start reading the series with The Alchemyst and work forwards in order to properly understand the plot, it is definitely a series worth following. Michael Scott has created an epic fantasy world filled with a mammoth cast of characters and creatures and enough myth and magic to make it a real feast for the imagination. There are a lot of children’s fantasy series available at the moment but this is really one of the best, Scott is an imaginative writer and excellent storyteller who deftly blends folklore, fantasy and reality so that each of his books roars along at a cracking pace.
The fourth book in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series will be called The Necromancer and is due to be published in 2010.