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The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
Narrated by Erik Singer, unabridged
Listening Library, 11 hours

The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel
Michael Scott
Michael Scott began writing over twenty-five years ago, and is thought to be one of Ireland's most successful and prolific authors, with one hundred titles to his credit, spanning a variety of genres, including Fantasy, Science Fiction and Folklore. He writes for both adults and young adults and is published in thirty-seven countries, in twenty languages. He is considered one of the authorities on the folklore of the Celtic lands and is credited with the resurgence of interest in the subject in the mid-80s. His collections, Irish Folk & Fairy Tales, Irish Myths & Legends and Irish Ghosts & Hauntings have remained continuously in print for the past twenty years.

Michael Scott Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Amy Timco

In Michael Scott's The Magician: The Immortal Secrets of Nicholas Flamel, the Dark Elders are immensely powerful Immortals who are seeking to regain their control over Earth. All they need are the last two pages of the Book of Abraham the Mage, which are in the possession of Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel. Mixed up in all this are Sophie and Josh Newman, two ordinary human twins who have magical abilities they never imagined. There is a prophecy about twins with powerful, pure silver and gold auras... Are Sophie and Josh those twins?

  Scott's fantasy world isn't terribly original in itself -- mythical characters are real, living among the "humani" secretly, and there are various "shadow realms" connected to our world. But there is a certain appeal to how Scott re-imagines the personalities of legend. It's fun meeting legendary characters like Scathach the Celtic warrior-woman (nicknamed "Scatty"), Niccoló Machiavelli (who serves Dark Elders in exchange for immortality), Joan of Arc, the Witch of Endor, Hecate, and more. Scott has an almost limitless supply of characters he can resurrect from the pages of legend and myth, and you never know who is going to pop up next.

  I found the story easy to follow though I had not read the first book in the series (The Alchemyst). Scott refers to the events in that book frequently in The Magician, which is helpful to first-time readers like myself. 

  Despite the potential, this was not a stand-out fantasy novel either for adults or for its intended audience, teen readers. Firstly, I found the style a bit stilted. After nearly every line of the twins' dialogue, Scott tells us exactly how he or she is feeling, rather than trusting the reader to figure it out. Strong fiction writing does more showing than telling, and Scott's constant descriptions of the obvious get a bit annoying as the story goes on.

  Secondly, the story itself feels as if Scott took a course on how to write a fantasy novel for teens and followed  each point religiously. Deceptive cliffhangers to end every chapter? Check. Appropriate amount of angst and uncertainty from the characters we're meant to identify with? Check. Long, drawn-out action scenes in which the main character's years of Taekwondo training suddenly come in handy? Check. But good fiction doesn't work that way. It follows rules, certainly, but the story itself is always primary. The Magician feels much more like an exercise in how to write a formulaic fantasy novel than an actual fantasy novel in its own right.

  There are other clichés here as well. The prophecy about the twins and their ultimate destiny is typically vague. I hope it doesn't turn out that one is light and the other dark, to bring balance to the Force -- I mean, the universe! Really, the whole idea of ordinary people discovering they have magical abilities and/or an earth-shaking  prophetic destiny is so overused in the fantasy genre. The whole notion that magic exists everywhere but humans just don't want to believe it so they ignore it is another worn-out cliché.

  This Listening Library audiobook edition of The Magician is read by Erik Singer. Singer reads well and his performance certainly enhanced my experience of the story. He gives each character a distinct voice, and has a lot of fun with the various accents. I especially liked his French accents. Singer's voice for Sophie is somewhat whiney, but I suppose it's difficult for an adult male to believably voice a female teenager's character. On the technical side, the audio levels were nicely consistent whether I was listening in the car or in the house. There were, however, a few tracks that either skipped or stopped playing altogether in the two CD players that I tried. This was odd because the CDs were brand new. 

  Overall, The Magician is fairly mediocre teen fantasy. Many readers may enjoy it for what it is, but I don't think it will stand the test of time. This was published in 2008 and Scott's odd, frequent references to specific technologies (the Dell laptop, Gmail, etc.) practically ensure that the story will become dated in just a few years. And there is nothing outstanding to lift this book above the myriad of similar works. I don't exactly regret listening to this 11-hour performance, but I probably will not seek out the rest of the series.  

Copyright © 2010 Amy Timco

Amy Timco is a voracious reader, avid reviewer, incorrigible booksale bum, and happy wife.  In addition to these absorbing pursuits, she also manages to be a freelance editor. (Yes, she is the grammar snob about whom your mother warned you!) You may visit her website at

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