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Literature / The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel

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The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel is a series of six books by Irish author Michael Scott. It's a contemporary fantasy that is set in modern-day San Francisco at the beginning of the series, but also features other locations throughout the world, as well as various Shadowrealms.

The Alchemyst, the first book in the series, begins in San Francisco when twins Josh and Sophie Newman discover that the owner of the bookstore where Josh works is the immortal French alchemist, Nicholas Flamel. Flamel and his wife, Perenelle, are the guardians of the Book of Abraham, a collection of the most powerful spells in the world, which they have protected for centuries. When Dr John Dee discovers the Flamels' whereabouts, he attacks and snatches the book to help his masters, the Dark Elders, cause The End of the World as We Know It. Josh and Sophie intervene to help Flamel, but now they too are being hunted by Dee and creatures that predate humanity.


The series consists of:

  • The Alchemyst (May 2007)
  • The Magician (June 2008)
  • The Sorceress (June 2009)
  • The Necromancer (May 2010)
  • The Warlock (May 2011)
  • The Enchantress (May 2012)

A film version has been announced, with Lorenzo di Bonaventura having purchased the rights. Michael Scott and Barry Krost will be the executive producers, but the scriptwriter has not yet been chosen.

Not to be confused with a certain other fantasy book with Nicholas Flamel.

Now with a character page that needs some love.


This series provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Elders have projectiles with surfaces which are sharp everywhere on them.
  • Action Girl: There are many examples but the most prominent is Scathach, who is introduced as the trainer of some dojo, and defeats numerous enemies within her debut chapter. Her twin sister Aoife of the Shadows is equally formidable. In The Magician Joan of Arc is one, naturally, trained by Scathach herself. Hel later shows up, borderline between this and Dark Action Girl, but she's on the side of good.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Out of all the mythical creatures used, Aoife of the Shadows is far more heroic than her legendary counterpart. In her source myth she was a Wicked Stepmother who cursed innocent children to live as swans for nine hundred years out of jealousy. She's Scathach's twin sister and while she's no saint, she's definitely on the side of good.
  • Alchemy Is Magic: Integral to the plot. Nicholas Flamel is a major player, and the book which contains the secrets of the Stone and Elixir are the driving forces behind the conflict. However, Nicholas's foes aren't interested in the elixir, but in other secrets hidden in the book.
  • The Alcatraz:
    • Quite literally. Perenelle Flamel is imprisoned on Alcatraz. Of course it's the sphinx guarding her cell and the mermaids in the surrounding water that are really keeping her in.
    • Also, while on Danu Talis Scathach, Joan, Saint-Germain, Palamedes, and Shakespeare end up in a prison that is actually inside the mouth of an active volcano.
  • All Myths Are True: All of them. A lot of them got the facts wrong, but there's a grain of truth inside every one.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Many of the Elders and Dark Elders are said to have unnatural skin colours. Hecate for example has black skin, Areop-Enap has pink and Mars has red.
  • And I Must Scream: Mars and Abraham the Mage, both of whom are Taken for Granite in different ways (although Mars was later freed). It's even stated that Abraham's mind would remain "alert and curious" even after being turned into a statue.
  • And Then John Was a Zombie: At the very end of the series, Josh uses the power of the four Swords of Power to become Marethyu, aka The Grim Reaper. Not a bad thing, though, considering Marethyu is a multimillion year old Chessmaster with the responsibility of saving the universe.
  • Anti-Villain: Machiavelli is the closest this series has. Josh actually says that he would trust Machiavelli the most because the guy happens to be the only one who is an immortal, and has given Josh an honest answer to anything. And Dr. Dee in the Enchantress switches from full on villain to an anti-villain once he's left to die by his masters, Osiris and Isis.
  • Anyone Can Die: In The Enchantress: Mars, Odin, Hel, Dee, Isis and Osiris, Prometheus, and Niten (for a time). Nicholas' and Perenelle's deaths are debatable. In the Epilogue, Josh/Marethyu writes Sophie a letter, saying that "the Flamels send their love".
  • Atlantis Is Boring: An underwater Shadowrealm is only given a brief mention when Josh is searching through Nidhogg's memories, and aquatic creatures are rather easily beaten in the series. Ironically, the real Atlantis, Danu Talis, is anything but.
  • Author Appeal: Michael Scott introduces Aoife of the shadows in the fourth book. He had previously wrote a novelisation of The Children of Lir — where she features as an antagonist. He likewise featured John Dee in a book called The Merchant Prince, co-written with Armin Shimerman.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Scathach, too many times to count.
      • Subverted in The Warlock when she mentions her common boast of being able to break out of any prison... except possibly the one she is currently in, the volcano prison on Danu Talis.
      • Subverted in The Enchantress, when Hel introduces her uncle Odin to the myriad monsters on Alcatraz.
      Hel: You stand in the presence of Odin, Lord of the Aesir, the Mighty and Wise, the Aged and the Merciful-
      Odin: We don't have time for all two hundred names.
  • Battle Aura: People do spells through their auras. So you can expect them to glow when they are going to throw a fireball. And they come in different scents!
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: So very many historical characters are actually immortals starting with the title character and his wife but other major characters include John Dee, Niccolo Machiavelli, Joan of Arc, William Shakespeare, Billy the Kid, and Virginia Dare.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: See Luke, I Am Your Father below.
    • A good part of the immortals are related one way or another. This in no way stops them from scheming against one another.
    • And then there is Josh' and Sophie's situation...
  • Blind Seer: The Witch of Endor gave up her physical eyes for the power to see possible futures; she is able to see normal things by using magic to see out of mirrors.
  • Broke the Rating Scale: Scathach at one point described the amount of trouble they were in as twelve out of ten. She later revised this to fourteen.
  • Brother–Sister Team:
    • Sophie and Josh. Sibling Yin-Yang: As Sophie puts it, she got the 'thinking' genes, and Josh got the 'doing'.
    • Taken even farther in The Necromancer when Josh pulls a Face–Heel Turn and runs off with Dee.
    • Subverted-ish in The Enchantress when we find out that Josh and Sophie aren't really related.
  • Capital Letters Are Magic: The Elders (as well as the Dark Elders), the Next Generation, the Change...
  • Cast from Hit Points: Magic uses up the caster's aura, which is tied to life force. Using too much magic for your body to handle could result in Spontaneous Human Combustion.
  • Character Title: The Alchemyst is Nicholas, the Magician is Dee, the Sorceress is Perenelle, the Necromancer is mainly Josh but also Dee, the Warlock is mainly Niccolo Machiavelli but also Mars Ultor, Billy the Kid, and Aten, and the Enchantress is Sophie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: In The Enchantress it's mentioned that there is the possibility of bringing someone back to life using an aura; this shows up again several chapters later when both Prometheus and Niten have died and Tsagaglalal can only bring one back.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Remember in The Alchemyst when Nicholas mentions that he knew Shakespeare? Guess who turns up two books later as a skilled magician and the leader of a pack of werewolves. Go on. Guess.
    • In The Warlock, it is revealed that Aunt Agnes is actually Tsagaglalal, or She Who Watches, an immortal as old as Gilgamesh. Also happens to be his sister.
  • Cold Iron: A few Elders make mention of iron having this effect on them, if not directly, then implied in the descriptions of their homes as having little to no iron.
  • Cernunnos: Cernunnos appears in The Sorceress, leading The Wild Hunt. Unlike most of the mythological characters, he's not an Elder but an Archon, a race that preceded the Elders.
  • The Chessmaster: Marethyu (aka the one-handed man, aka Josh) in The Necromancer seems to be one, judging by the fact that he helped Nicholas discover the secrets of the Codex, taught Saint-Germain how to master fire, and CREATED AN ENTIRE SHADOWREALM to catch Scatty and Joan when they fall into Machiavelli's trap, all so Scatty, Joan, Saint-Germain, Shakespeare, and Palamedes can come back in time with him to fight in Danu Talis when it falls. And Abraham, Marethyu's partner, is at least as much of one as Marethyu.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Josh kills Osiris and Isis - two Earthlords simply by stabbing them with Clarent and Excalibur.
  • Deity of Human Origin: Marethyu.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?:
    • Billy The Kid threatening his master, Quetzalcoatl with an axe. Considering the potential consequences, that took balls.
    • In The Sorceress, after Cernunnos points a sword at the heroes, Sophie tells him it's not polite to point.
  • Divine Assistance: Scathach, among other Elders.
  • Don't Fear the Reaper: Although he's an inscrutable Chessmaster and Magnificent Bastard, Marethyu is ultimately a hero and the champion of humanity. And it turns out that he's actually a future version of Josh, one of the two main characters.(It Makes Sense in Context)
  • Drives Like Crazy: Billy the Kid, mostly, but immortals in general have trouble driving. So does Josh.
  • Easy Amnesia: As Hekate ages throughout the day, she's said to forget promises her younger selves made.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Dark Elders.
    • The Archons take this to another level: if the Dark Elders haunt the nightmares of humans, then these guys haunt the Dark Elders' nightmares.
    • The Dark Elders are simply a faction of normal Elders united against humanity, and Elders look almost exactly like humans until the Change sets in. That's when they become... things varying from cat-headed people to golden statues to gigantic spiders. The Archons are (mostly) Humanoid Abominations, and the Earthlords are only vaguely humanoid and VERY eldritch.
  • Emotion Eater: All vampires. Notably, this is one of the few series that has Emotion Eaters in a heroic role. The only time we see Scatty using her powers is to make Sophie feel better by eating (that's eating, not easing) her anxiety.
  • In book 3, Dee's master threatens him with being trapped in a diseased, weakened, aged body for eternity. This comes to partial fruition in the final book, although they leave him to die slowly.
  • Abraham the Mage. Dear God, Abraham the Mage...
  • Fish People: Dagon, in a likely Shout-Out to the Cthulhu Mythos.
  • The Fog of Ages: Gilgamesh.
  • Foreshadowing: A common saying of Josh's from back when the twins were "normal" mentioned exactly once in book 1. "Josh always said that their parents lived 5 million years in the past and were only happy when they were up their ankles in mud." Well, there's no mention of Isis and Osiris ever liking mud, but they defiantly were alive and well millennia ago and plotting to use their "children" to take over the world.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: The four swords of power — Clarent (Fire), Excalibur (Water/Ice), Durendal (Earth) and Joyeuse (Air).
  • Ghost Memory: Sophie obtains the Witch of Endor's memories in book 1, although the Witch does not die in the process.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Of the two blonde-haired twins, Sophie fits this closest. She's the purer hearted of the two and is never tempted to evil like Josh is. Sophie is also Josh's Morality Pet.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Bastet, the Sphinx, and probably a few other Dark Elders. This is later revealed to be part of The Change.
  • Hazardous Water: Dee, Virginia and Josh on the boat ride to Alcatraz in The Warlock.
  • The Hecate Sisters:
    • Used literally when the twins meet Hekate herself. She is the Maiden in the morning, the Matron in the afternoon and the Crone in the evening.
    • In The Warlock, Perenelle explains this to Sophie: Sophie is the maiden, Perenelle is the matron and Tsagaglalal is the crone
  • High-Heel–Face Turn: Virginia Dare. The only female villains are Elders, Archons and Earthlords.
  • Historical Domain Character: All the immortal humans, with more notably the Flamels, Joan of Arc, the Count of St. Germain, John Dee, Niccolò Machiavelli, Niten, and Billy the Kid.
  • Historical In-Joke: Every immortal human to appear so far is a notable historical figure, and the dangerous magical creatures Dee has unleashed to help him capture the Flamels have been responsible for a number of historical disasters.
  • Historical Domain Superperson: The immortal humans are notable historical figures and they can use magic.
  • Hook Hand: Marethyu. Revealed in the final book to be forged by uniting all four swords of power.
  • Hufflepuff House: The species of fantasy creatures in the series are as follows: Elders, Dark Elders, Archons, Ancients and Earthlords. The Elders and Dark Elders feature prominently, Archons and their technology come into play in the third and fourth books and Earthlords are the true antagonists. Ancients never get more than a passing mention. Dee wants to get access to the library with all their technology, but that just includes all technology.
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Archons.
  • I Have Many Names:
    • Odin, and likely many of the other Ancients.
      Hel: You stand in the presence of Odin, Lord of the Aesir, the Mighty and Wise, the Aged and the Merciful—
      Odin: We don't have time for all two hundred names.
    • In the same book, Scathach meets Mars Ultor in the past Danu Talis and he doesn't recognise that name, as he's going by a different one at that point.
    • Mars is the same person as Huitzilopochtli, Nergal, and Ares.
  • I Was Quite a Looker:
    • Any Elders who underwent the Change.
    • Coatlicue before her experiments transformed her. (Josh is lucky to only see her beautiful form.)
    • Aunt Agnes and The Witch of Endor only look old but can take on a younger form if they choose.
  • I'm Cold... So Cold...: Prometheus does a variation of this with: "I'm tired now, so tired. It will be good to rest." He then proceeds to die in the arms of his daughter. Bonus points because the aforementioned daughter had just revived him, but he made her let him die.
  • Immortal Genius: Most of the immortal humans are experts in many different fields, including magic. In the case of the Flamels, they have to be the best alchemists in the world, since their alchemy is the only thing keeping them immortal. Scathach is a master of pretty much all forms of martial arts, and it's implied she may have invented some of them in the first place.
  • Immortality: There are immortals who have come about their immortality by various means.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: Joan of Arc still looks very young. However, most of the other immortals don't, having been given immortality later in their lives.
  • Immortality Inducer: Elders can bestow immortality on humans who win their favor... and remove it when they lose that favor.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Elixir of Life has given the Flamels life eternal, though they need to keep taking it regularly or they will rapidly age to death.
  • I See Dead People: Perenelle can see ghosts.
  • Karma Houdini: Bastet and Quetzocoatl simply flee in fear of Tsagaglalal and don't receive any comeuppance at all.
  • Ley Lines: The places where they meet make for good Warp Zones.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome:
    • Niten has this train of thought, even going into the longest speech he has spoken in the entire series to elaborate on it.
    • The Flamels are closer to this than to Who Wants to Live Forever?; they accept the chance that they might die, but don't actually dislike living forever. It helps that they have Eternal Love.
    • Machiavelli is somewhere between Who Wants to Live Forever? and this trope. While being immortal allowed him to set plans into motion literally centuries in advance, he made a promise to his dying wife to never remarry. She died over 400 years ago... and he has kept his word ever since.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father:
    • Osiris and Isis turn out to be Josh and Sophie's parents at the end of The Warlock.
    • Zig-zagged in "The Enchantress" in that it turns out that Josh and Sophie were taken from their families in their own times (Josh was from back when Neanderthals walked the earth and Sophie was from 9th or 10th century Russia) by Osiris and Isis.
    • Almost every major character is connected to each other in some way. The Witch of Endor is Scathach's grandmother, Mars Ultor's wife, and Prometheus's sister. Tsagaglalal, She Who Watches, is Gilgamesh's sister, Prometheus's daughter (sort of), and most surprisingly, Abraham's wife. Hel is Odin's niece. Aoife is Scathach's sister. She also becomes Niten's wife at the end of the series. St. Germain was a former student of Nicholas', and recently (about four years before the start of the series) became Joan of Arc's husband (she's also Scathach's best friend).
  • Magical Sensory Effect: Magically awakened characters have auras that carry both distinct colors and scents. The twins' gold and silver auras smell like oranges and vanilla, respectively.
  • Magical Seventh Son: Perenelle Flamel is a female example. Being the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter (Yo dawg, I heard you like seventh daughters...) allows one to speak to ghosts.
  • Minorly Mentioned Myths and Monsters: When was the last time you even heard of Coatlicue, Tsagaglalal, Cernunnos, or Areop-Enap? Or the Lotan, Genii Cucullati, or Torbalan?
  • Miracle Food: Nicholas can create food very quickly with alchemy.
  • No Immortal Inertia: The Flamels get some immortal inertia, but it's been stated that humans granted immortality by an Elder will be subject to this if the Elder in question withdraws their gift.
  • Odd Friendship: Between Niccolo Machiavelli and Billy the Kid. They become Fire-Forged Friends despite how incredibly different they are to each other.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Black Hawk killed Nereus offscreen (or whatever you call it for a book) in The Enchantress.
  • The Older Immortal: Gilgamesh and Tsagaglalal are the oldest humans still alive.
  • The Omniscient: Marethyu.
  • Our Archons Are Different: The Archons are a group of ancient immortal beings who ruled over the primordial Earth, vaguely humanoid Precursors with little known about them.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: The mermaids are daughters of Nereus, the "Old Man of the Sea" who himself is human from the waist up with an octopus bottom. The mermaids themselves are called Nereids (though Dee refers to them as mermaids) and vary in appearance. Josh notes that some look like beautiful women while others are more fishlike and some are even crab-like. All of them have green hair and green skin.
  • Our Monsters Are Different: Fitting with the overarching themes of the series, there are many different monsters from all varieties of folklore and mythology.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Well, some of them. The different ones still display some traits of traditional vampire, like not needing to breathe, but they feed off emotions rather than blood. All other vampires feed off emotions carried in the blood, but those vampires are considered of the weakest class.
  • Playing with Fire: The Comte de Saint-Germain.
  • Portal Crossroad World: Xibalba is a crossroads linking to several other Shadowrealms.
  • Precursors: Scathach is a ten-thousand year old vampire, and that seems impossibly old. But as a Next Generation, she is thousands upon thousands of years younger than the other Elders, who in turn are a good deal younger than the Great Elders who built Danu Talis. Before them were the vaguely humanoid Archons, who once ruled the Earth through science, and they were preceded by the Ancients, of which nearly nothing is known. Before these were the monstrous, scaly Earthlords, who created vast cities and may very well have created the planet.
  • Public Domain Artifact: The four swords, Excalibur, Clarent, Durendal, and Joyeuse.note  Also the vimanas and the Book of Abraham.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Pretty much every named character except the twins. Then it's revealed that Josh was actually born in Neanderthal times and Sophie is from 10th century Russia.
  • Red Shirt: Billy the Kid reveals himself as a Trekkie and discusses this trope in The Enchantress... on Alcatraz.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Lampshaded and subverted. It's said that the Elders originally did live among the humans and lend their powers. But once they retreated into hiding, civilisation really increased. So humanity is doing fine without their help.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: The second book gives us the Nidhogg, who starts out as an oversized Komodo Dragon but soon begins walking on two legs like Godzilla and smashing buildings and cars in Paris.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Nidhogg is definitely an abhorrent reptile, and Machiavelli's aura is described as smelling like a snake. (This may make herpetologists cry, since the majority of reptiles don't have a noticeable smell.) The Earthlords take the cake for this trope.
  • Resurrection Sickness: Perenelle uses her aura, as well as Sophie's and Tsagaglalal's, to revive Nicholas for one more day... at the cost of one of her own remaining two days.
  • Retcon:
    • In the first book Scatty talks about Joan of Arc and implies that she did die. The second book of course reveals that Joan is alive and well, and that Scatty herself personally saved her from death.
    • Also, the "5th element" was changed. (It was originally stated by Flamel to be time, with a reference to Kronos.)
  • Rewatch Bonus: The shadowrealm that Scatty and Joan find themselves in has a notable lack of snakes. Earlier in the series, Josh mused that, if he ever had the chance to make a shadowrealm, he wouldn't include snakes.
  • Riddle for the Ages: The first book says that Sophie is very close to her grandmother - who would be "expecting a call" that evening. With The Reveal that her parents are Earthlords and Aunt Agnes is Tsagaglalal, it's never said if there was another immortal posing as Nana Newman.
  • Scaled Up: Isis and Osiris, when they show their Earthlord form.
  • Sealed Evil in a Duel: Aoife does this to a certain Archon in The Necromancer.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Slow Transformation: When Elders reach a certain age, their body begins to change to reflect their true nature.
  • Some Call Me "Tim": Tsagaglalal (also known as "Aunt Agnes") and Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (also known as "Black Hawk").
  • Spontaneous Human Combustion: Occurrences are explained as the result of one over-exerting his/her aura.
  • Stable Time Loop: Toward the end of the series, the conflict becomes less about stopping bad things from happening in the present and more about traveling to the past and making sure things happened the way they did.
    • A twisted example at the end of The Enchantress. Josh fuses the Four Swords and becomes Marethyu. He still has the Codex (the Book of Abraham the Mage), and he mentions that he'll sell it to a poor French bookseller...note 
  • Sufficiently Advanced Alien: The Archons are not aliens, but they do fit this trope. Cernunnos tells Dee that magic and Archon technology are indistinguishable to humans and even Elders. The Ancients were more advanced than they were, and the Earthlords were even more advanced.
  • Tangled Family Tree: As is often the case where immortals are involved. See Luke, I Am Your Father above to get an idea.
  • Time Abyss: Many characters, especially the Archon Cernunnos, who uses a sarcosuchus jawbone as a club. He got it from a live specimen, and sarcosuchus lived 110 million years ago.
  • Time Travel: Happens quite a lot in the later books.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Codex, the Book of Abraham the Mage.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Billy gives off this impression in-universe, mainly due to his constant Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu? tendencies.
  • Translation Convention: Though nearly everyone speaks many languages and switches between them at will, all conversations are rendered in English.
  • Tulpa:
    • Cernunnos was powerful enough to create a thoughtform which traveled miles and miles just to talk to Dr. John Dee for a meeting.
    • Machiavelli stalls Flamel, Scatty and the twins in the church at the beginning of The Magician by creating one from the wax of the candles.
  • The Unpronouncable:
    • Tsagaglalal.
    • Huitzilopochtli, another name for Mars Ultor (unless you speak Nahual).
    • Coatlicue, the Mother of All the Gods.
    • It's a bit of a Running Gag that Machiavelli has trouble pronouncing Quetzalcoatl's name.
    • If you're not familiar with Irish names, Aoife can be a bit tricky (though the narration does mention that, when she introduced herself, it sounded like "ee-fa").
    • Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak (call him Black Hawk).
  • Valkyries: The Disir show up as hired guns (hired swords!) in The Magician.
  • Warp Zone: The places where Ley Lines meet. Point Zero is sabotaged to become one leading to Danu Talis before it fell.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Flamels, as well as many other characters.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?:
    • Scatty (suggested), Gilgamesh.
    • Machiavelli says that he will never turn against his master because one day, he would like to grow old and die.
    • John Dee and Prometheus both relinquish their immortality in The Enchantress.
  • Wham Line: The very last line of the fifth book. Richard and Sara Newman, Josh and Sophie's parents, return. And they reveal that they are actually Osiris and Isis.
    • The line itself is "In this land we are called Isis and Osiris. Welcome to Danu Talis, kids. Welcome home."
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Josh absolutely hates snakes, and he even says the trope name in The Magician.
  • Wrote the Book: Machiavelli uses this, and he means it absolutely literally.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Sophie and Josh realise this in The Enchatress when they discover that their parents are not who they say they are.
  • You Have Failed Me: In The Sorceress, the Dark Elders become frustrated with Dee's failure to retrieve the Codex, and they mark him as an outlaw.