S4L Book Club – The Alchemyst

As usual, I’m living la vida seasonal, which means I may drop everything and head out and about without warning should an interesting opportunity arise. One such opportunity arose just as I returned from a planned expedition to a writing conference, and last Thursday, I unpacked, repacked, watered the garden, and headed back out. Whew!

Thanks goodness Kat’s taking over in July. Is everyone reading Ender’s Game?

All right. Back to The Alchemyst. Was there anything you disliked about the story? Here’s something that drove me nuts: Nicholas and Perenelle need the codex to create the potion or spell or whatever it is they need to remain immortal. When John Dee steals the codex, Nicholas and Perenelle are in grave danger of aging and dying if they don’t perform the monthly spell.

Uhh…they’ve been doing this for hundreds of years, wouldn’t you think they’d have the process memorized by now? Or wouldn’t you think they’d made copies of the instructions if it was un-memorizable?

This hole can be filled easily enough, and I happen to know it is done in the next book, but it drove me nuts throughout Book 1. Did anyone else have a problem with this?

If you prefer to stay more positive (remember, I only rag on books that are successful or have a level of quality that I deem high enough to endure a little criticism), since we all seem to like the connection this book makes with characters from history and mythology, what person or character would you like to see fictionalized in a similar way?

Oh! This brings to mind The Smile, by Donna Jo Napoli, who I just met at the Kachemak Bay Writers’ Conference. This story brings Leonardo da Vinci and Mona Lisa to life. It’s my favorite Napoli book so far. Love it, love it, love it!

What are some other novels with real people or characters from mythology?

Categories: Reading

3 replies »

  1. Okay, I have to agree with you – the whole ‘can’t make the potion without the codex even though I’ve made it monthly for years’ thing did drive me a little loopy. I did question folks’ intelligence. There are things that I bake regularly and I can ramble off the recipe at will, so it should have been somewhat similar…..

    But I did enjoy everything else about the book…. 🙂

  2. Hey, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one to notice and be bothered by that! The hole is quickly and easily filled in Book 2. Do you suppose the author and editors didn’t notice it as a hole in Book 1?

  3. The same issue kept bugging me. I figured there was supposed to be a reason, but wanted to know what it was. I’ve started the second book in the series, but haven’t gotten to the explanation yet!
    I have long been a fan of historical fiction (to be differentiated from period romance). Anya Seton’s book Katherine turned me into a history major.

    To respond to a previous post, I love the question about magic. In good fantasy, magic isn’t a quick fix- it has rules and limitations. In the Harry Potter books the muggle (non-magical) Prime Minister asks the wizard Prime Minister why he can’t just fix a situation- “You have magic!” The reply is “So do they.”
    Do I believe in magic? What a tantalizing question! I do believe that many things we take for granted would appear to be magical to less developed cultures. I also think there are things that we do not fully understand-yet. Are they magic? Do I believe in abracadabra? No. Do I believe that some individuals are sensitive to forces that not all of us can perceive? Yes, I absolutely do.