I’m finally hitting my stride in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series with the fifth book, The Warlock.
The pace has always been quick in the series, but it finally feels like it’s getting somewhere. My old gripe with the series (too many characters to follow) still holds, but I’ve always wanted to keep following the plot, and now we’re reaching the payoff.
So, cliffnotes of the series: Two twins get embroiled in a world of ancient magic and shenanigans ensue.
It’s a little difficult to talk about this book without biting into the plots of previous books, but I can at least delve into the big-picture view.
Like most hero stories (see Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, etc.), we have our ordinary characters at the beginning who are then thrust into extraordinary circumstances and forced to keep up (even though it’s their ordinariness that may be what allows them to succeed in the end).
In this case we have modern twins thrust into an ancient struggle.
What I’ve liked about the series is the grayness of it. You never know whom to fully trust. There are a couple of characters that you trust even though you see they’re flawed, but there are others you watch and see doing good things but ultimately aren’t sure you should trust. Likewise, the “bad guys” aren’t always purely bad and even some who seem purely bad are given some emotion that at least lets you sympathize for them.
This characteristic is the most engaging aspect of the series, though again, you don’t really get to know any one character very well, so it dulls the impact of the moral ambiguity.
And the other aspect of the series that’s always been cool is the tie-in to ancient mythologies, similar to Percy Jackson, American Gods, Fated, and any number of other series dealing with ancient ideas in a modern world. This one is a bit different though. Like Percy Jackson, it’s YA Fantasy, so the ideas aren’t too heavy like they sometimes can be in American Gods, Fated, and God Behaving Badly. But unlike Percy Jackson, the story isn’t as straightforward and involves more mythologies. Rick Riordan has delved into at least 4 mythologies now in his various series, but only 2 at a time; this one pretty much goes after them all, but at a more surface level. This isn’t to insinuate one is better than the other. They’re just different. Riordan writes for a middle school audience, while Michael Scott has targeted high schoolers (the beginning of the Nicholas Flamel books would actually be a good segue from Riordan’s second Percy Jackson series).
This is book where all those interconnections really start to show and bear fruit. It’s in The Warlock that we finally start to see all the interconnected pieces starting to come back together.
And then there was a plot twist. I love a good plot twist. I can’t even hint at it. It was too good to accidentally step on here. I can’t wait to get time to read the last book (ironically, I’m about to lose my free time again, so I’ll have to work hard to push through, or just read when I don’t really have time to).
I’m finally starting to come around to this series. I may end up liking the series more than I liked any of the individual books.
Until next time sports fans.