45 pages 1 hour read

Michael Scott

The Alchemyst

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2007

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Summary and Study Guide


Irish author Michael Scott’s The Alchemyst, published in 2007, is the first installment in his six-part series The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. This guide refers to the 2007 Kindle edition. The following books are The Magician (2008), The Sorceress (2009), The Necromancer (2010), The Warlock (2011), and The Enchantress (2012). The Alchemyst was included in Time Magazine’s 100 Best Young Adult Books of All Time in 2015 and earned multiple awards internationally, including the 2008 Irish Book of the Year.

Scott’s young adult fantasy novel tells the story of 15-year-old twins Sophie and Josh Newman, who accidentally discover the existence of magic and creatures of legend and embark on a series of adventures to defeat powerful enemies known as the Elder Race. Throughout their quest, they are guided by famed alchemyst (a fictionalized spelling of alchemist) Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle, as well as other fictionalized historical figures. Scott’s series blends myth and reality in a fantastical quest and explores the themes of Truth Versus Fiction, Magic as Science, and Critical Thinking.

Plot Summary

While spending the summer in San Francisco, 15-year-old Sophie works at a coffee shop while her twin brother Josh works at a bookstore owned by the mysterious Nick Fleming and his wife Perry. One day, Sophie notices a man enter the store with three creatures made of clay named Golems. The stranger, Dr. John Dee, confronts Nick Fleming in a magical duel and attempts to steal a book named the Codex from him. Fleming, Josh, and Sophie escape, but Dee is able to capture Perry and part of the Codex before he flees.

Fleming reveals that he is in fact Nicholas Flamel, an alchemyst born in 1330 who found the secret of immortality in an ancient book called the Codex, or the Book of Abraham the Mage. Without the pages stolen by Dee, he cannot brew the Elixir of Life that has been keeping him and his wife Perenelle alive for centuries. Dee, on the other hand, is another immortal who worked as a spy for Queen Elizabeth I and has sworn allegiance to creatures known as the Elder Race. The Elders inhabited the world before humans, who caused their downfall when they discovered iron. Some of the Elders, known as the Dark Elders, have been trying to reclaim the Earth as their own ever since, enlisting the help of immortals and creatures like John Dee. Significantly, most human legends are in fact about Elder creatures, whom early humans revered as gods and heroes.

Flamel takes Josh and Sophie to a hideout where they meet Scathach, a warrior Elder who is on their side. She agrees to help them before they are attacked by Dee, who is looking for the remaining pages of the Codex. Flamel, the twins, and Scathach narrowly escape, but are chased by the Morrigan, a Dark Elder called by Dee as reinforcement. Eventually, Flamel and his friends take refuge in a Shadowrealm, one of the dimensions that serve as the Elders’ homes. There, they meet Hekate, the Goddess with Three Faces. She and Flamel suspect that Sophie and Josh are the prophesized twins that could save the world or bring its downfall, as predicted by the Codex. Hekate awakens Sophie’s magical abilities, but she is interrupted by an attack on her Shadowrealm led by Dee, the Morrigan, and Bastet, the Egyptian Cat Goddess who is also an Elder.

Flamel, Sophie, Josh, and Scathach are able to leave the Shadowrealm before Dee destroys it and kills Hekate, and they flee to Ojai. There, Scathach’s grandmother, the Witch of Endor, teaches Sophie how to control her newly awakened powers. While she does so, Dee approaches Josh, who has been separated from the group, and attempts to convince him to join his side. He then attacks Flamel, Sophie, and Scathach by raising an army of undead from a nearby cemetery, but Josh distracts him long enough for them to escape. The Witch helps them through a mirror that leads to Paris, leaving Dee behind.