Okay, so I started and finished The Enchantress (Young Adult Fantasy 509 pages) by Michael Scott yesterday. I absolutely enjoyed this book and the entire series of the Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. I’ve got about six pages and passages marked throughout this book that I’m going to talk about in detail, so if you haven’t read this book or any of the previous books in this series, absolutely DO NOT read this review.
“San Francisco: Nicholas and Perenelle Flamel have one day left to live, and one job left to do. They must defend San Francisco. The monsters gathered on Alcatraz Island have been released and are heading toward the city. If they are not stopped, they will destroy everyone and everything in their path. But even with the help of two of the greatest warriors from history and myth, will the Sorceress and the legendary Alchemyst be able to defend the city? Or is it the beginning of the end of the human race?”
“Danu Talis: Sophie and Josh Newman traveled ten thousand years into the past to Danu Talis when they followed Dr. John Dee and Virginia Dare. And it’s on this legendary island that the battle for the world begins and ends. Scathach, Prometheus, Palamedes, Shakespeare, Saint-Germain, and Joan of Arc are also on the island. And no one is sure what – or who – the twins will be fighting for. Today the battle for the world will be won or lost. But will the twins of legend stand together? Or will they stand apart – one to save the world and one to destroy it?”
This is probably the strongest emotional reaction I’ve had to any book or series in quite some time. I don’t know if that’s a testament to the story, characters, and writing skill or if it’s just a reflection of where I’m at in my life. Whatever the case, this final book had a very serious impact on me. One of those reactions that leave you a little bit traumatized at the end and you really just need a hug or to cuddle with someone to help you process everything that just happened.
So I’ll start with some of the lighter aspects of this book. Billy the Kid was absolutely hilarious. The discussion between him and Machiavelli about Star Trek seriously had me laughing out loud. ‘”So, the captain, the first officer and the ship’s doctor and sometimes the engineer all beam down to a planet. Together. The entire complement of the senior officers?” Billy nodded. “And who has command of the ship?” “I don’t know. Junior officers, I guess.” “If they worked for me I’d have them court-martialed. That sounds like a gross dereliction of duty.”‘ And this is one of the main reasons I haven’t been able to motivate myself to get interested in the new Star Trek movies. I feel as though it is a very poor representation of adequate leadership. But Billy and Machiavelli continue talking and Billy brings up the whole red shirt and cannon fodder examples and I was amused by the entire discussion. Billy really is a great character and I enjoyed all the scenes with him throughout not just this book, but the series as a whole. He is mouthy and inappropriate, but honest with a big heart. He’s also brave and courageous and he wants to do the right thing. I was very happy when Billy and Machiavelli decided to stay on Alcatraz and help defend San Francisco from the monsters on the island.
I think that also shows why it was also so easy for me to dislike the Elders and those who used to be worshipped as gods and goddesses. Throughout the later books in the series, it becomes plainly obvious that those with power were petty and spiteful. They had so many options and abilities to make the world and all the shadowrealms better places, but they used all their resources to further their own selfish desires. History and even our modern day societies are overwhelmed with people who find themselves in positions of power and who abuse their power instead of working towards the greater good. It makes me feel sad and a bit hopeless about the systems in place and how I don’t feel as though I can make a huge enough impact to fix things for more people.
I really liked the story arch with the Crow Goddess. She was a villain, but then redeemed at the end, and that redemption led to her being reunited with her sisters. I really like how Perenelle filled the last moments of Macha, the Morrigan, and the Badb’s life with joy and gratitude instead of with fear or hate. This was another really moving section for me.
The next section that I marked happened when Prometheus and Niten are getting ready to defend the Golden Gate Bridge against an attack from the Spartoi. Their discussion really radiated with me, and I think a lot of that is because of where I’m at in my life right now. Prometheus tells Niten that he is more than just a swordsman – that he’s also an artist, a sculptor, and a writer. ‘”No man is ever just one thing,” Niten answered. His shoulder dropped and his short sword appeared in his left hand, water droplets sparkling from the blade. “But first and foremost, I was always a warrior.”‘ I think this really resonated with me because I have often had so many artistic motivations in my life, but that I also have the capacity for great violence. While I am certain that most people, when given extensive emotional or life-altering circumstances, have that same capacity in them, I somehow feel as though my capacity for violence could be rather extensive. For a lot of my life, I thought that I really wanted to be a warrior or a hero, but recent events in my life have encouraged me to follow more of my artistic path and to seek less violence.
This ties in with the next section that I marked, where Niten is about to face overwhelming odds in a fight that he knows he is likely to lose. “He had no affection for what was to come, but this brief time, when all preparations for battle were made and there was nothing left to do but wait, when the entire world felt still, as if it was holding its breath, was special. This moment, when he was facing death, was when he felt completely, fully alive. He’d still been called Miyamoto Musashi and had been a teenager when he’d first discovered the genuine beauty of the quiet moment before a fight. Every breath suddenly tasted like the finest food, every sound was distinct and divine, and even on the foulest of battlefields, his eyes would be drawn to something simple and elegant: a flower, the shape of a branch, the curl of a cloud.” And I know exactly what this is like. Everything shuts down. There is no fear, no pain, no worry. If you have lived your life well and to the fullest every day, there isn’t even room for regrets. Just a calm before the coming storm. You look around you and you find the beauty in the smallest things. Sometimes, I find myself wondering if I would have stopped to appreciate the sunset that morning or the lavender flowers if the situation hadn’t been so extreme. So I try and be thankful for everything in all aspects of my life these days so that I am not forced to wait until I’ve lost everything to appreciate all that I already have. Obviously, these sections had a profound impact on me because of my own history and where I’m at in my life. But that doesn’t make it any less true.
This whole warrior tone then goes into the next really moving section for me, which was where Palamedes and Shakespeare are discussing the coming battle on Danu Talis. Palamedes tells Shakespeare that the tablet he was given from Abraham the Mage showed the death of them all. He describes what each person faces at the end and Shakespeare tells him that at least it ends well. Palamedes is surprised and asks Shakepeare what part of them all dying sounds like it ends well. Shakespeare replies, “But we are all together. And if we die – you or I, Scathach, Joan or Saint-Germain – then we will not die alone. We will die in the company of our friends, our family.” And even typing that section out makes me tear up a little again. There is true honor in dying for something you believe in that will help others, but no one should die alone. I guess this is hard for me right now because I’m in a situation where I am alone and isolated away from everyone that matters to me. The person who I care about more than anyone else lives less than four miles from me and doesn’t want to see me. So even a distance as small as four miles can be the same as being on the other side of the planet. Because we are living alone and dying alone BY CHOICE. All the heroes in this book chose to fight and die together, even though they knew that what they believed in would likely cost them their lives. But they CHOSE to risk themselves to protect and defend each other. And I feel that has always been my own choice, where I sacrifice the things that I want for what other people want. I will give everything I have and everything I am to save you.
I guess that’s what makes me either the fool or the hero of my own story, which also moves into the part of this overarching series and this book in particular that affected me the most. I’ve talked about this concept repeatedly in previous reviews and also in previous posts. The main difference between hero and villain is that the hero often must be selfLESS while the villain is selfISH. The hero has to be willing to give up everything – family, friends, loved ones, even life and hobbies – in order to save the world. The villain only wants to use people to their own gain and further their own power, greed, control, or interests. This book does a great job with showing all the heroes and everything they are willing to sacrifice to save the world, or just the people they love. Josh’s sacrifice, while alluded to throughout the series, was particularly heart-wrenching for me. In some ways, he didn’t really lose everything, but the rest of his existence will be mostly alone, working toward the greater good. I guess the lesson there is that if you think you’re going to go out and be a hero, you should spend every second you can with the people you care about because tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.
The last section that really made a difference to me was when Perenelle and Machiavelli are talking about immortality and how so many of those who had it never really appreciated it as a gift. ‘”And then I fell in with Billy,” the Italian continued. “He is young exuberant – irritating, yes, but he has a big heart. He reminded me what it is to be human. To enjoy life and living. And when it came right down to it, we decided – he and I – that we did not want monsters in the streets of San Francisco, we did not want the deaths of many thousands on our hands or consciences. Not when we could do something about it.”‘
And that’s what it means to be a hero. It means you have the ability, the power, the intelligence, whatever, to do remarkable things and to help prevent others from suffering. The cost is usually so very, very high to be the hero. It is thankless and you tend to die alone, feeling unwanted and praying to whomever or whatever you believe in that you made a difference in the end. That something you did was useful and helpful.
Overall, this book left me in severe emotional distress at the end, but kind of in a good way. This book is the first book that I will rate here as a solid five. I don’t know if that’s just because of where I’m at in my life or because of the way everything turned out with the whole series. I’m glad this series is not one that would or will go on forever and that there was clearly a beginning, middle, and end. This was easily the best book in the series and I expect to reread it again on multiple occasions, which is super easy to do since I own the whole series.