"The Sorceress" is the strongest of the first three books in the Flamel series. Josh is less mopey; the characters of Shakespeare, Palamedes and Gilgamesh add spice and nuance to the book; and the concepts of the Horned God and the Wild Hunt are imaginative and interesting. Perenelle's being trapped on Alcatraz has been drawn out a bit too long, but the gradual divulging of her power as a sorceress makes me want to read more. Exactly how strong is Perenelle anyway? Looks like I'll have to wait another book or three to find out.
As the series progresses, Scott is adding shades of gray to his depiction of the battle between good and evil. Flamel's aura may smell minty fresh, but is he really as good as he appears early in the series? Why do I like Machiavelli at times? Is Dee doing so many bad things with the hope of bettering the world in the long run? And I don't even know what to think about the Witch of Endor? Is she a tyrant? Hopeless romantic? Saint? Sinner? Or a surprisingly human mix of conflicted personalities? Does the Morrigan have a heart after all? Scott creates plenty of doubts surrounding the motives of the main characters. I look forward to learning more about Nicholas, Perenelle, Dee, Scatty, Sophie, Josh, Machiavelli, and the entire cast of still obscured others awaiting their turn in the spotlight.
Here seems like a good time to confess a weakness - I'm a sucker for the popular story device I'll call "be fooled by personal appearances at your peril." The idea that great and powerful things come in humble packages resonates with me. Rowling uses the device with great success throughout the Harry Potter series. Geeky Clark Kents and Peter Parkers become superheroes throughout the comic genre. The ancients used the humble origins device to describe Jesus, John the Baptist, and most of the biblical prophets. Scott's Flamel series uses the device throughout, with simple booksellers being immortal alchemists, whiney twins being the twins of legend, and powerful King Gilgamesh being a homeless person squeegeeing car windshields. Without fail, I always find myself captivated by such powerful, complex characters hidden within humble life circumstances. Why? Maybe it's my own awkwardness as a child wishing to be something special. Or maybe it's the clergyperson in me hoping against hope that Imago Dei - the concept that all people, regardless of outward appearance, are made in the divine image - is actually true. Is the stamp of the divine on the vagabond as well as the royal? I sure hope so. Scott does a good job of reminding me to look past outward appearances in my interactions with people.