(The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel)
by Michael Scott
Review by Jarad Johnson
Who reads anymore? This is sometimes a question I find myself asking when I see English majors, who are studying English, telling me that they no longer have the time to read. I ask them why, if their passion is language in all its varied creative forms. Maybe they don’t read traditional books, maybe their passion is poetry, short stories, audiobooks, even fanfiction. Anything? Some say yes, but more than that say no. its baffling, but if recent months have taught me anything, it’s that understanding is the key to acceptance. Moreover, did you know that, according to a Smithsonian poll, at least one in four adults have not read a book in the past year? That may make you fill with despair, as it did me, but I do not think all hope is lost. In my experience, I hear more than I would like to that the print industry is dying, much like the printed newspaper. But, as much as social media seems to have taken over much of our time, more people may be reading than we realize. According to the same poll, 83 percent of people my age, that is millennials, are reported as reading for pleasure. I don’t know if I quite buy that, but of course it is rather subjective, as different areas of the country of course have different rates of literacy and reading. But this number is encouraging, because right now, the act of critical thinking is essential if we are to determine the real from the imaginary, and truth from lies.
Speaking of the imaginary, most of the time, especially in regards to books, the imaginary can be brilliant. Writer and reader agree to come together in a created world. Agree is the key word. Fiction, when done properly (or at least semi-properly), draws you into a completely new realm. Albus Dumbledore says this about dreams, but I think it applies to books as well; “You can swim in the deepest oceans, or glide through the highest cloud.” Sometimes you are freed to find truth in a whole new way.
The Magician by Michael Scott is one of those examples of a damn good book that pulls you into another world. I’m certain that almost anyone could love this series. This is usually an indicator that the author knows how to write. That may sound trivial, but actually it is something to be sought after. Furthermore, much like C.S Lewis, I love a lengthy novel. Most of the time, when a book is finished, I will think that it was too short. I want more, need more of a story. But, quite unexpectedly, I find that these are just the right length, in all their delectableness.
In this installment, we continue to see the unfolding adventures of the twins, Sophie and Josh Newman, accompanied by the Alchemyst and Immortal Human Nicholas Flamel. After fleeing the town of Ojai, pursued by Dr. John Dee, Sophie has now been trained in one of the five Elemental Magics, and as they and the warrior Scatty travel to Paris, she and her brother are preparing to be trained in the second, Fire. And the only person who can teach her is one of Flamels’ old students, the Immortal Comte de Saint Germain, magician, alchemist, and rock star. Although Paris is the original home of the Flamels, it is now a city controlled by Niccolo Machiavelli, and in some ways he is more a dangerous enemy than Dee. He is of course continuing the mission of the Doctor, to capture them all and obtain the last two pages of the Codex, which is needed to bring the Elders, an ancient race that ruled before the humans, back into the world.
In the house of Saint Germain, his wife, Joan of Arc, assists Sophie in controlling her aura and the Witch of Endor’s memories, which were imparted on her when the Witch trained her in the Magic of Air. Flamel gives Josh the sword Clarent, the twin to Excalibur. But magic is never simple. The plot thickens and the protagonists must help save Paris from destruction. This book includes in its world, such ancient creatures and Valkyries and Soul Eaters. The plot is thick and complex, but beautifully written and absorbing.
It’s quite a bit of plot, which is difficult to write but awesome to read. But that’s one of the great things about the series; the detail. I personally love detail. I want to know every bit of the story, and the more detail the better. To me, it just makes the story and everything better. `one of the things that I really like is that the details are not in list form. The author does not say, “This happened, and then this happened. He was wearing this, and she was wearing that.” No, no. The author, as most do, weaves a story, a narrative. But this narrative is stunningly vivid, each page is seen very clearly. And that adds something to the novel, makes it much better than if those details are left out. I think that’s why I find many books rather wanting, because they could have said so much more. We are starting to consume media and other information in soundbites, and this is bleeding over into the book industry. This book is not afraid to create a detailed work that requires attention from the reader.
At the beginning of the last semester, one of my favorite professors posed the question why literature, which translates to why do people read? Why are stories such a fundamental part of culture? I think, in part, it is because of books like these; well written, fascinating reads that grip you tight and don’t let go, take you on journeys away from everyday life. While there is a stereotype that no one reads anymore, I’m starting to disagree with it. I think that, instead of dying, books and stories will always persevere, even flourish, in the face of adversity. I look forward to reading the next installment and I’m sure that I will thoroughly devour it.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!