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Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

The New York Times bestseller now in paperback!

In the second book in the New York Times bestselling series, Nicholas, Sophie, Josh, and Scatty emerge in Paris, the City of Light, home to Nicholas Flamel. Only this homecoming is anything but sweet. Niccolò Machiavelli, immortal author and celebrated art collector, lives in Paris and is working for Dr. John Dee. He’s in hot pursuit, and time is running out for Nicholas and Perenell. Josh and Sophie Newman are the world’s only hope. . . . If they don’t turn on each other first.

★ “Readers will be swept up.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred

“An exciting and impeccably thought-out fantasy, well-suited for those left in the lurch by Harry Potter’s recent exeunt.”—Booklist

“Fans . . . will certainly find much to love, root for, and fear in this successful second installment.”—School Library Journal

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The charity auction hadn’t started until well after midnight, when the gala dinner had ended. It was almost four in the morning and the auction was only now drawing to a close. A digital display behind the celebrity auctioneer—an actor who had played James Bond on-screen for many years—showed the running total at more than one million euro.

“Lot number two hundred and ten: a pair of early- nineteenth-century Japanese Kabuki masks.”

A ripple of excitement ran through the crowded room. Inlaid with chips of solid jade, the Kabuki masks were the highlight of the auction and were expected to fetch in excess of half a million euro.

At the back of the room the tall, thin man with the fuzz of close-cropped snow white hair was prepared to pay twice that.

Niccolò Machiavelli stood apart from the rest of the crowd, arms lightly folded across his chest, careful not to wrinkle his Savile Row–tailored black silk tuxedo. Stone gray eyes swept over the other bidders, analyzing and assessing them. There were really only five others he needed to look out for: two private collectors like himself, a minor European royal, a once-famous American movie actor and a Canadian antiques dealer. The remainder of the audience were tired, had spent their budget or were unwilling to bid on the vaguely disturbing-looking masks.

Machiavelli loved all types of masks. He had been collecting them for a very long time, and he wanted this particular pair to complete his collection of Japanese theater costumes. These masks had last come up for sale in 1898 in Vienna, and he had then been outbid by a Romanov prince. Machiavelli had patiently bided his time; the masks would come back on the market again when the Prince and his descendents died. Machiavelli knew he would still be around to buy them; it was one of the many advantages of being immortal.

“Shall we start the bidding at one hundred thousand euro?”

Machiavelli looked up, caught the auctioneer’s attention and nodded.

The auctioneer had been expecting his bid and nodded in return. “I am bid one hundred thousand euro by Monsieur Machiavelli. Always one of this charity’s most generous supporters and sponsors.”

A smattering of applause ran around the room, and several people turned to look at him and raise their glasses. Niccolò acknowledged them with a polite smile.

“Do I have one hundred and ten?” the auctioneer asked.

One of the private collectors raised his hand slightly.

“One-twenty?” The auctioneer looked back to Machiavelli, who immediately nodded.

Within the next three minutes, a flurry of bids brought the price up to two hundred and fifty thousand euro. There were only three serious bidders left: Machiavelli, the American actor and the Canadian.

Machiavelli’s thin lips twisted into a rare smile; his patience was about to be rewarded, and finally the masks would be his. Then the smile faded as he felt the cell phone in his back pocket buzz silently. For an instant he was tempted to ignore it; he’d given his staff strict instructions that he was not to be disturbed unless it was absolutely critical. He also knew they were so terrified of him that they would not phone unless it was an emergency. Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out the ultraslim phone and glanced down.

A picture of a sword pulsed gently on the large LCD screen.

Machiavelli’s smile vanished. In that second he knew he was not going to be able to buy the Kabuki masks this century. Turning on his heel, he strode out of the room and pressed the phone to his ear. Behind him, he could hear the auctioneer’s hammer hit the lectern “Sold. For two hundred and sixty thousand euro . . .”

“I’m here,” Machiavelli said, reverting to the Italian of his youth.

The line crackled and an English-accented voice responded in the same language, using a dialect that had not been heard in Europe for more than four hundred years. “I need your help.”

The man on the other end of the line didn’t identify himself, nor did he need to; Machiavelli knew it was the immortal magician and necromancer Dr. John Dee, one of the most powerful and dangerous men in the world.

Niccolò Machiavelli strode out of the small hotel into the broad cobbled square of the Place du Tertre and stopped to breathe in the chill night air. “What can I do for you?” he asked cautiously. He detested Dee and knew the feeling was mutual, but they both served the Dark Elders, and that meant they had been forced to work together down through the centuries. Machiavelli was also slightly envious that Dee was younger than he—and looked it. Machiavelli had been born in Florence in 1469, which made him fifty-eight years older than the English Magician. History recorded that he had died in the same year that Dee had been born, 1527.

“Flamel is back in Paris.”

Machiavelli straightened. “When?”

“Just now. He got there through a leygate. I’ve no idea where it comes out. He’s got Scathach with him. . . .”

Machiavelli’s lips curled into an ugly grimace. The last time he’d encountered the Warrior, she’d pushed him through a door. It had been closed at the time, and he’d spent weeks picking splinters from his chest and shoulders.

“There are two humani children with him. Americans,” Dee said, his voice echoing and fading on the transatlantic line. “Twins,” he added.

“Say again?” Machiavelli asked.

“Twins,” Dee added, “with pure gold and silver auras. You know what that means,” he snapped.

“Yes,” Machiavelli muttered. It meant trouble. Then the tiniest of smiles curled his thin lips. It could also mean opportunity.

Static crackled and then Dee’s voice continued. “The girl’s powers were Awakened by Hekate before the Goddess and her Shadowrealm were destroyed.”

“Untrained, the girl is no threat,” Machiavelli murmured, quickly assessing the situation. He took a breath and added, “Except perhaps to herself and those around her.”

“Flamel took the girl to Ojai. There, the Witch of Endor instructed her in the Magic of Air.”

“No doubt you tried to stop them?” There was a hint of amusement in Machiavelli’s voice.

“Tried. And failed,” Dee admitted bitterly. “The girl has some knowledge but is without skill.”

“What do you want me to do?” Machiavelli asked carefully, although he already had a very good idea.

“Find Flamel and the twins,” Dee demanded. “Capture them. Kill Scathach if you can. I’m just leaving Ojai. But it’s going to take me fourteen or fifteen hours to get to Paris.”

“What happened to the leygate?” Machiavelli wondered aloud. If a leygate connected Ojai and Paris, then why didn’t Dee . . . ?

“Destroyed by the Witch of Endor,” Dee raged, “and she nearly killed me, too. I was lucky to escape with a few cuts and scratches,” he added, and then ended the call without saying good-bye.

Niccolò Machiavelli closed his phone carefully and tapped it against his bottom lip. Somehow he doubted that Dee had been lucky—if the Witch of Endor had wanted him dead, then even the legendary Dr. Dee would not have escaped. Machiavelli turned and walked across the square to where his driver was patiently waiting with the car. If Flamel, Scathach and the American twins had come to Paris via a leygate, then there were only a few places in the city where they could have emerged. It should be relatively easy to find and capture them.

And if he could capture them tonight, then he would have plenty of time to work on them before Dee arrived.

Machiavelli smiled; he’d only need a few hours, and in that time they would tell him everything they knew. Half a millennium on this earth had taught him how to be very persuasive indeed.


From the Hardcover edition.
Michael Scott

About Michael Scott

Michael Scott - The Magician

Photo © Perry Hagopian

“Some stories wait their turn to be told, others just tap you on the shoulder and insist you tell them.”

By one of those wonderful coincidences with which life is filled, I find that the first time the word alchemyst–with a Y–appears in my notes is in May 1997. Ten years later, almost to the day, The Alchemyst, the first book in the Nicholas Flamel series, will be published in May.

Every writer I know keeps a notebook full of those ideas, which might, one day, turn into a story. Most writers know they will probably never write the vast majority of those ideas. Most stories wait their turn to be told, but there are a few which tap you on the shoulder and insist on being told. These are the stories which simply will not go away until you get them down on paper, where you find yourself coming across precisely the research you need, or discovering the perfect character or, in my case, actually stumbling across Nicholas Flamel’s house in Paris.

Discovering Flamel’s house was the final piece I needed to put the book together. It also gave me the character of Nicholas Flamel because, up to that point, the book was without a hero.

And Nicholas Flamel brought so much to the story.

Nicholas Flamel was one of the most famous alchemists of his day. He was born in 1330 and earned his living as a bookseller, which, by another of those wonderful coincidences, was the same job I had for many years.

One day he bought a book, the same book mentioned in The Alchemyst: the Book of Abraham. It, too, really existed and Nicholas Flamel left us with a very detailed description of the copper-bound book. Although the book itself is lost, the illustrations from the text still exist.

Accompanied by his wife Perenelle, Nicholas spent more than 20 years trying to translate book. He must have succeeded. He became extraordinarily wealthy and used some of his great wealth to found hospitals, churches, and orphanages. Perhaps he had discovered the secret of the Philosopher’s Stone: how to turn base metal into gold.

Of course the greatest mystery linked to Nicholas Flamel is the story of what happened after he died. When his tomb was opened by thieves looking for some of his great wealth, it was found to be empty. Had Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel been buried in secret graves, or had they never died in the first place? In the months and years to follow, sightings of the Flamels were reported all over Europe. Had Nicholas also discovered that other great mystery of alchemy: the secret of immortality?

What writer couldn’t resist a story that combined magical books, an immortal magician and grave robbing and, even more excitingly, that had a basis in fact? It begged the questions: if he was still alive today, where would he be and what would he be doing? Obvious really–he would be running a bookshop in San Francisco.

The Alchemyst was a tough book to write, probably the toughest of all the books I’ve done so far. It is the first in a series, and because the story told across all six books is so tightly integrated, keeping track of the characters and events means that I have to keep extensive and detailed notes. A minor change in book one could impact dramatically book three. There are tiny clues seeded into the first book that pay off in later books. The time frame for the entire series is very tight–The Alchemyst, for example, takes place over two days–so I to need to keep an hour-by-hour breakdown of events.

For people who like to know the practicalities, I write every day and sometimes all day and often long into the night. Nights really are the best time for writing. It’s that time the conscious side of the brain is starting to shut down and the unconscious takes over. The following day I’ll read what I’ve written the previous day, then edit and rewrite. I work on two computer screens; the story on one screen, notes and research on the second screen.

And now let me answer the question you are about to ask me because, sooner or later, everyone asks, “What is the secret of writing?”

A comfortable chair. A really comfortable chair–because if you’re a writer, you’re going to spend a lot of time sitting in it.
Praise | Awards

Praise

Praise for The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel series:
 
A New York Times Bestseller
A USA Today Bestseller
An Indie Next List Selection
A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age
An IRA Young Adult Choice Book
An IRA Children’s Choice Winner
 
[STAR] “[A] riveting fantasy . . . fabulous read.” —School Library Journal, Starred
 
[STAR] “Readers will be swept up.” —Kirkus Reviews, Starred
 
“Fans of adventure fantasies like Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series will eat this one up.” —VOYA
 
“An exciting and impeccably thought-out fantasy, well-suited for those left in the lurch by Harry Potter’s recent exeunt.” —Booklist


From the Hardcover edition.

Awards

WINNER IRA Children's Choices
WINNER 2008 Amazon Best of the Year So Far
WINNER IRA--CBC Children's Choice
Teachers Guide

Teacher's Guide



ABOUT THIS BOOK

At the end of Book I, The Alchemyst, 15-year-old twins Sophie and Josh Newman are transported by a magical leygate from San Francisco to Paris along with the 14th century alchemist Nicholas Flamel and the immortal warrior maiden Scathach. Sophie’s magical powers have been awakened, and the siblings are heralded as the twins of legend with silver and gold auras. They are in the midst of a centuries-old battle involving legendary beings, magicians who are hundreds of years old, and the Codex, the Book of Abraham the Mage that holds the secrets of life and death. Dr. John Dee, a magician/astrologer from the court of Queen Elizabeth I, has imprisoned Flamel’s wife Perenelle on Alcatraz Island. Dee calls on Niccolo Machiavelli, another historical figure who has achieved immortality, to aid him in capturing Flamel and the twins. When the Comte de Saint-Germain and his wife, Joan of Arc, join the battle on the side of Flamel, sparks truly begin to fly. At the heart of this struggle is Josh’s jealousy of his sister’s powers and his impatience to have his own “awakening,” a happening that will have far-reaching consequences.

ABOUT THIS AUTHOR

Michael Scott is one of Ireland’s most successful authors. He writes for both adults and young adults. A master of fantasy, science fiction, horror, mythology, and folklore, he was hailed by the Irish Times as “the King of Fantasy in these isles.” He lives and writes in Dublin, Ireland. Learn more about Michael Scott at www.dillonscott.com


DISCUSSION AND WRITING

Why is Josh suspicious of Flamel and Scathach? Why does Sophie trust them more than her twin does?

How does Machiavelli’s character in this story compare to your research into the historical person of Niccolo Machiavelli?

Why does Machiavelli feel compelled to aid John Dee when he asks for help? How do these two feel about each other, and how does that affect the plot?

Why does Machiavelli say to Flamel, “The world moved on, Nicholas. You did not.” Compare the characters of Machiavelli, Dee, and Flamel.

Why do you think Dee leaves the Sphinx to guard Perenelle? How does Perenelle manage to elude the Sphinx, and why does this tell you about her personality and her powers?

How is Perenelle able to contact ghosts? What does the author mean when he says that even though ghosts have no presence in the real world, they are not powerless? What power of theirs is Perenelle able to use?

What is Saint-Germain’s connection to music? Compare the character of Saint-Germain in this story to what you can learn about a historical person of that name. Why do Sophie’s memories, gathered from the Witch of Endor, show a strong aversion to Saint-Germain?

How is Juan de Ayala helpful to Perenelle in her plan to escape? Compare what you learn of de Ayala in this story to information you research about the historical person of de Ayala.

Discuss the character of Scathach. What part does she play in the story? What is her relationship to Flamel? To the twins? To Joan of Arc and Saint-Germain? Why does she tell Sophie about her family history and how does that affect Sophie’s feeling toward her?

Why does Dee call ordinary people “humani” — how does the use of that word affect his attitude toward people? How does it differ from Flamel’s attitude and his mission? How does this difference relate to what you have learned about the historical records of Nicholas Flamel and Dr. John Dee?

What is the meaning of the prophecy about “The Two that are One, the One that is All”? What powers do you think Josh and Sophie will have now that both are awakened? Why does Flamel wonder — at Notre Dame — whether it was a good idea to “awaken” them?

The ending of the book leads to another beginning, as Flamel and the twins head to London. What do you think will happen to the twins in a future story?

SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES

PRE-READING ACTIVITIES
Have students search online and in encyclopedias for information about Nicholas Flamel, Perenelle Flamel, Dr. John Dee, Niccolo Machiavelli, the Comte de Saint-Germain, Joan of Arc, and Juan de Ayala. Have them make a chart of facts that they can find out about these people as well as the legends that have evolved around their names. Discuss world events that took place during the century each of them lived.

Have students research the places that appear in this volume: Alcatraz, Sacré-Coeur Basilica, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, and the Catacombs of Paris. Why would the author choose each of these places to be settings in the story?

POST-READING ACTIVITIES
The author tells us: “Long ago, Nicholas and Perenelle had come to realize that at the heart of every myth and legend was a grain of truth . . .” Have students make a list of legends in this book that the author has used to expand that “grain of truth.”

Have the class look up these words and define the unique characteristics of each of these creatures and objects: tulpa, golem, nidhogg, disir (Valkyrie), sphinx, gargoyle, grotesque, nunchaku, Excalibur, Clarent.

Many ancient and legendary beings are mentioned in this book; some are major characters, some minor characters, and some mentioned only briefly. Give students time to find out the origin of beliefs about each of these and what cultures they represent: Scathach, Dagon, The Morrigan, Areop-Enap, Mars, Deimos and Phobos, Huitzilupochtli, Black Annis, Gilgamesh

REVIEWS

Starred Review, Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2008:
“Readers will be swept up by a plot that moves smartly along, leaving a wide trail of destruction and well-timed revelations.”

BEYOND THE BOOK

INTERNET RESOURCES: 

The Alchemy Lab
www.alchemylab.com/flamel.htm

The John Dee Society
www.johndee.org

Encyclopedia Mythica
www.pantheon.org

The Paris Pages
www.paris.org

Catacombs of Paris
www.catacombs.explographies.com

Philosophy Pages
www.philosophypages.com/ph/macv.htm

ABOUT THIS GUIDE

Prepared by Connie Rockman, Children’s Literature Consultant, adjunct professor of children’s and young adult literature, and Editor of the H. W. Wilson Junior Book of Authors and Illustrators series.

Download a PDF of the Teacher's Guide
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