Tuesday, 12 June 2012
Review: The Enchantress by Michael Scott (The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel Book 6)
The two that are one must become the one that is all. One to save the world, one to destroy it.
Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel have one day left to live, and one job left to do. They must defend San Francisco. The monsters gathered on Alcatraz Island have been released and are heading toward the city. If they are not stopped, they will destroy everyone and everything in their path.
But even with the help of two of the greatest warriors from history and myth, will the Sorceress and the legendary Alchemyst be able to defend the city? Or is it the beginning of the end of the human race?
Sophie and Josh Newman travelled ten thousand years into the past to Danu Talis when they followed Dr. John Dee and Virginia Dare. And it’s on this legendary island that the battle for the world begins and ends.
Scathach, Prometheus, Palamedes, Shakespeare, Saint-Germain, and Joan of Arc are also on the island. And no one is sure what – or who – the twins will be fighting for.
Today the battle for Danu Talis will be won or lost. But will the twins of legend stand together?
Or will they stand apart – one to save the world and one to destroy it?
They say that all good things must come to an end, and as I pointed out back at the beginning of the year 2012 is a year where many of my favourite series are being brought to a close. Already this year we have seen published the final instalments in M.H. Harris's Joshua Files series and the fourth and final book in Darren Shan's Saga of Larten Crepsley. Later in the year the bell will toll for Barry Hutchison's Invisible Fiends and Anthony Horowitz's Power of Five. And now it is time to say a fond farewell to yet another series that has kept me thoroughly entertained for the past few years: Michael Scott's The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel.
The sixth book in this amazing series, The Enchantress, was published a few weeks ago and William Shakespeare's classic line from Romeo and Juliet springs to mind: parting is such sweet sorrow. Sweet because Michael Scott has brought his epic tale to a brilliant end, and there is little point in a story if it just goes on and on and on without finishing. And sorrow simply because it is the end. That's it. No more.
If love stories that are rich in magic, with a background steeped in folklore and mythology, and you have not yet read any of the books in this series then stop reading this review now and go out and get your hands on a copy of The Alchemyst. I remember exactly where I bought my copy (back when they were being published in lovely hardback edition). It was on a day trip to London and my wife had to drag me off the train when we reached our home station as I was so totally engrossed in the story. And that feeling of being so totally immersed in the tale that I have almost felt I have been part of it myself is something I have experienced with every one of the subsequent five volumes.
I appreciate that I need to be a little wary with what I write here. For some unfathomable reason, in the UK at least, this series has not reached the level of popularity of the likes of Percy Jackson or Alex Rider, but with rumours circulating about a possible movie adaptation I feel it is only a matter of time before this changes, and I would hate to create spoilers for the rest of the series in this review. What I will say is that this final instalment was everything I wanted it to be and more. All the loose ends are tied up, and every question I had has been answered (and believe me when I say that there were many of these).
I'm currently trying to imagine how Michael Scott pitched this story to his agent and/or publisher. If someone came to you and said that they had an idea for a story that included elements of folklore from around the world, time travel, shadow realms, Atlantis, and a list of supporting characters (from history and mythology) that included (amongst others) Nicholas Flamel, John Dee, Billy the Kid, Machiavelli, Joan of Arc, Prometheus, Virginia Dare and William Shakespeare, and then that author said that the six volume story would take place over a time period of only eight days, then you would be forgiven for thinking they were more than a little crazy. And yet, Michael Scott has somehow managed to pull of this Herculean feat. Well done and thank you sir!
Despite the vast array of characters there has never been any point in this series where I have struggled to follow what is happening to one or other of them, and given the multiple plotlines, and the many twists that Scott builds into his tale, this is some achievement on his part. Full marks have to go to the author for the way he has plotted his story - this is a man at the height of his storytelling 'powers', who knows exactly when action is needed, and (sometimes more importantly) when it is not, and also the perfect place to insert a cliffhanger before cutting to a scene featuring other characters. His characters, every single one of them, have been fully developed over the course of the six volumes, so even when their actions may initially surprise us, with a little mulling over they quickly make complete sense. And on top of all of this, I totally love his writing of dialogue. Every single character has their own voice, and every single phrase they utter is realistic and believable.
If you have read this series and are still hungry for more from Michael Scott then I recommend you get hold of the two short ebooks he has written featuring characters from the Nicholas Flamel series: The Death of Joan of Arc and Billy the Kid and the Vampyres of Vegas. They are both available from amazon for the kindle and are worthy additions to the series. I read somewhere a while ago that although The Enchantress brings the story to a natural close, there will be more in the future (a trilogy I think) set in the same world, and no doubt featuring a few familiar names.
I sometimes wonder whether I have spent more time reading up on the historical and mythological figures that Michael Scott has included in his six volumes than I have reading the story itself. This is the effect this story will have on you and I challenge any new reader to the series not to reach for the encyclopaedia or wikipedia on multiple occasions, to find out more about the likes of Virginia Dare, John Dee, Aten, Scathach, or Niten. These are the kinds of books that will have kids desperate to know more about the many characters, and we all know that kids love mythology.
I gave the first five books to my godson's brother last Christmas, and I recently heard that not only has he read them but also my godson and their mother. They are going to be staying with us when they are over in the UK from Canada next week, and I think they will be fighting over who gets to read The Enchantress first. I know I dropped everything to read it!