Again, there is no stopping in this series. This book is still within the same week as The Alchemyst and The Magician. We’ve gone across two continents and multiple eras, we’ve met gods and goddesses and historical figures long believed to be dead, and yet we’re still only just beginning to delve into the world Scott created. The whirlwind will continue through to book six.
In The Sorceress, Scott expands the folklore and mythology he is drawing on. He ties creatures from Greek and Rome to those of Egypt (hello Rick Riordan), but then brings in Irish, British and Mexican. In this book he introduces an ancient Sumerian character, Gilgamesh. And even later in the series he brings in Japanese, American and Native American immortals, monsters of legends and elders. He could easily have created dozens of books based on just the few individuals he introduces throughout the series.
This book, if I had to choose of all of them, is probably my favorite. The focus on Perenelle Flamel and her powers is a highlight of the entire series. The reader learns snippets of her past, but even the other immortals acknowledge they know very little about who she is, but one thing they all seem to agree on is that she is dangerous and this book brings that home even more. There’s a great scene where Bastet, the cat goddess from Egypt – who plays an important role in the later books, talks about Perenelle and then later realized her mistake.
“Oh, humani, I do not know, nor do I care. In my time, the word had meaning. A sorceress was someone with power, someone to fear, someone to respect. But here, in this time and in this world, the old words, the old titles, mean nothing. Why, a magician, I have discovered, is nothing more than a children’s entertainer, someone who pulls rabbits out of hats.” (Loc. 3366)
And then the Dark Elder servant and series villain, John Dee, comes up against Perenelle in this book and his response is perfect:
“Perenelle frightened the Dark Elders. And people were usually afraid only of those who could destroy them. One final thought hovered at the edge of his consciousness: who—or what—was Perenelle Flamel?” (Loc. 4363)
I love Perenelle for all of the above reasons, but also because it highlights Scott’s strengths as a writer. The depth of his characters is astounding and his slow reveal of their stories is epic! We learn that Perenelle is even more powerful than most know because she is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter, therefore she has access to powers that have nothing to do with her aura, allowing her to escape from the magical prison and guard in which John Dee trapped her.
Scott also goes further in-depth into other powerful female characters in this novel including the elder Aerop Enap (Wikipedia link, referring to it as a he, but in the novel Scott definitely uses female pronouns) and the elder Morrigan, who is a triune similar to Hecate from The Alchemyst:
“Like many of the Elders and Next Generation, she was a triune goddess: she had three aspects. Some Elders visibly altered with the passage of time—Hekate was cursed to physically change from a young girl to an old woman during the course of each day. Others changed with the phases of the moon or the seasons, while still other triune goddesses were simply different aspects of the same person. But from what she remembered, the Macha, the Badb and the Morrigan were three different creatures with different personalities…all of them savage and deadly.” (Loc. 3001)
The idea of good versus evil and the struggle within continues throughout the series, but the Morrigan and her sisters embody it so perfectly. The “evil” one took over the body and the other two were long lulled to sleep until the tides changed and magical wards broke down the barriers allowing the “good” (or maybe chaotically neutral) sisters out.
Recommendation: Same for the entire series, if you’re reading them for the first time I’m sure you will LOVE them! The myths and legends Scott brings to life throughout the series are so well crafted and have such great personalities they stay with you. The only downside of the series, and this is coming from a re-read perspective, is that it’s hard to ignore what you know at the end. It was really hard not to let what I know about the end of the series affect my re-read of the series. For a lot of the time I was able to ignore it, but it was always there.
Opening Line: “I am tired now, so tired.”
Closing Line: “Then the Ancient of Days turned and shuffled off into the night.” (Whited out to avoid spoilers, highlight to read.)
Additional Quotes from The Sorceress
“Whereas Flamel was obsessed with preventing the Dark Elders from returning to this world and Dee was equally determined that the world return to its masters, Machiavelli focused on discovering the truth behind the enigmatic rulers of the ancient earth.” (Loc. 1310)
“No matter what he achieved—his extraordinary successes, his amazing discoveries and uncannily accurate predictions, even his immortality and his association with figures who had been worshipped by generations as gods and myths—those three words mocked him, because he was secretly afraid that his father had been correct about that too. Perhaps he was a flawed tool.” (Loc. 2180)
“Dee found it hard to imagine the cat-headed goddess as a youngster; he had a sudden absurd image of a fluffy white kitten. Had Bastet ever been young—or had she been born, or hatched, fully grown?” (Loc. 2738)
“The Dark Elders had once been rulers, and where there were rulers, there were always others waiting, plotting, planning to take over. This was the type of politics Machiavelli understood and excelled in.” (Loc. 3893)