As with The Warlock, I wish I had as much enthusiasm and glowing things to say about this book as I did the first time I read it. I picked up this copy way back in 2013 and it’s sat on my shelf since then. I’m glad I’ve re-read them so I can clear up the shelf space now. (I didn’t even technically read it this time as I checked out digital copies from the library to take to China to save space :-D)
It is still a great read and an amazing conclusion to the series, but it’s just not as full of impact or as powerful as I remember it being. This is because of the big reveals in The Warlock that I wrote about at the end and how that reveal is then discussed and explained (and even sort of thrown away) in this book. For me, it’s the reveal I talk about in the next paragraph that made the re-read so hard. It’s one of those things, similar to an unreliable narrator, that is just a major turn off for me when it comes to a book.
Now that we’re to the final two books in the series, I have something to refer back to. As I mentioned when I responded to The Alchemyst, I’ve previously responded to The Warlock and The Enchantress. The Warlock was Book 49! That’s almost 400 books ago in the life of this blog. WHOA.
All I have to say, upon re-reading my response, is wow what naivety! What youth! What excitement! I’m clearly a bit more jaded on this re-read and I did NOT re-read every book again before each book was released, but I do still agree with the fact that the books were a bit thin on subject matter even though they took place over only a matter of days. There’s things missing that I think would’ve been great to include and there are things included (multiple times in some cases) that I was not interested in.
Just a head’s up some of the things I talk about in this book may be from The Warlock, my quotes got merged and I’m still not sure what was in which book because I re-read them so fast.
One of the things you have to be careful of reading this series is that Scott doesn’t throw away names. Even the minor characters that he only mentions in passing are incredibly important and historical factual philosophers, warriors and politicians (or at least the immortals are). From ancient Chinese philosophers to British authors (I forgot to mention Shakespeare last post), Scott must’ve mined history for so many of the characters he uses/mentions.
In this book, Sophie and Josh’s life/world not only falls apart, but it is mercilessly ripped apart. Their eyes are opened to a number of things which begin the processes that end the series. These processes and the truths/lies they reveal are what had me hesitant about re-reading the series. They’re WONDERFUl the first time you read the series, but going back to the series it makes them a bit less so.
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.
Picking up immediately after the events of The Alchemyst, the second book in the series is just as action packed and full as the first!
The Magician again takes place over a period of days and this time moves us from San Francisco, California to Paris, France. The same cast of characters is here and this book introduces two of my favorites, Niccolò Machiavelli and Joan of Arc, and gives further insight into the strongest female character in the series, Perenelle Flamel.
As I re-read it, I was glad that some of my hesitancy about re-reading the series started to fade. I’m not sure if it’s because the story was becoming more and more intense, or that I was spending more time with some of my favorite characters, but I was glad my reservations at least took a bit of a back seat to the book. (It also could’ve been that I devoured this book.)
I first read this in the first six months of this blog! Unfortunately, I didn’t actually respond to every book so I only have my thoughts to The Warlock (#5) from that original read (and later The Enchantress (#6) when it was released in 2012). I picked up hard copies of these books back in October 2012 when I left a job and they gave me a bookstore gift card.
The series has languished on my shelf for the last four years, partly because I’d read it before, but mostly because I wasn’t sure I wanted to read it again. When I bought it, I definitely did, but then every time I went to re-read it I remembered what happened in the last book and the revelations in the last two books and questioned if I wanted to re-read the series.
It’s like L’Engle knew exactly what I was struggling with when she wrote An Acceptable Time. I had been struggling with the mundanity of the O’Keefe Family series and I’d been complaining about the short rapid endings. I’m not sure if she answered all my questions, but she wrote this one well/differently enough that it felt like she answered all of my concerns about the series.
It was also, to me at least, great that this book was the eighth book written and the eighth in the series, the only other one to happen like this is the first. But I think that probably worked to L’Engle’s advantage in that the interconnectedness of the two series is apparent throughout. The mentions of characters and happenings is excellent, but I was a little confused about how open the Murray’s were about their children’s time travel and experiences, but a little less open in this book about their granddaughters’. Perhaps it has to do with getting old, or Polly not being their permanent responsibility, but it felt a bit odd considering the first four books in the series.