Once—a long time ago—we were simple people, but then I bought a book, the Book of Abraham the Mage, usually called the Codex. From that moment on, things changed. Perenelle changed. I changed. I became the Alchemyst. (4.42)
Even though Nicholas Flamel seems as though he's been a magician all his life, it's cool to remember that he and his wife were once "simple people" just like Sophie and Josh. Once their lives were touched by magic, though, everything changed, and they underwent one big fat transformation: they became immortal.
But although the twins could see the glow that hovered around each other and their own bodies, they felt no different. There were only the smells in the air—oranges and vanilla ice cream. (14.55)
When Hekate checks the twins' auras for the first time, even though they don't feel any different, Sophie and Josh can see something they were never able to see about themselves before. This is the first hint of their transformation, and foreshadows a time when they not only can see, but feel the change, too.
"Are they really wereboars? I mean, men who change into boars?" Sophie asked. […]
"No, not really," Scatty said. […] "But even amongst the Elder Race, the Torc clans were special. They could transform from beasts to men and back again." (15.49)
Shape-shifting creatures are everywhere in this book; the wereboars are just one of the many we meet. But what is it about magical creatures that makes such shape-shifting so common? Why do so many magical creatures transform?
"The mature woman you saw this afternoon was Hekate. The old woman you saw this evening is also Hekate, and in the morning, you will meet a young girl who is Hekate as well."
"The Goddess with Three Faces," Flamel reminded them.
"Hekate is cursed to age with the day. Maiden in the morning, matron in the afternoon, crone in the evening." (17.79)
No wonder Hekate is so sensitive about her age. If we had to age an entire lifetime every time we got out of bed in the morning, we'd probably be a bit testy, too. This description of Hekate's constant changing also gives us a glimpse to the flipside of magic. Though she's powerful, her powers of transformation are considered a curse.
"When you come out of that room, you will be different people."
"I don't want to be a different person," Sophie whispered. She wanted everything to be just as it had been a couple of hours earlier, when everything was ordinary and boring. Right now, she would give anything to go back to a boring world. (24.41)
Our hearts go out to poor Sophie, don't they? Even though she's on the brink of becoming a totally awesome, totally kick butt sorceress, she mostly just wants to go home and maybe chat with her friend Elle over the phone. Sometimes, boring is better. When faced with life-threatening situations, it certainly seems easier to stick with the status quo. But Sophie has a destiny.
From the moment you laid eyes on Dee, you started to change. And once begun, change cannot be reversed. (24.42)
There's something really unsettling about this statement: that there is no turning back, no "home" to go home to. Sometimes, you can choose to change. But sometimes, as in the case of the twins, your life changes dramatically without your permission.
Sophie flung out her arm, and a long, whip-like, snaking coil of silver energy flowed from her hand. It touched each of the cats […] and they immediately came to stumbling halts, rolling and twisting on the ground as they transformed into ordinary everyday cats, two shorthairs and a ragged-looking Persian. (28.24)
Now those are some serious powers of transformation, huh? Sophie is so powerful now that with a flick of the wrist, she can transfigure a posse of cat-warriors into fluffy, harmless kitties. Aside from the great image this gives us, these lines also give us one of the first examples of Sophie really harnessing and using her new powers. To which we say, you go girl.
"Get away from Nicholas," she said, her lips not moving in sync with her words, "or we will find out what your true shape is, Bastet, who is also Mafdet, Sekhmet, and Menhit." (28.27)
Whoa—so Bastet is a shape shifter, too? Is there anyone in this book who can't transform?
He doubted that his sister would ever be fine again. He'd seen how she looked at him, her eyes blank and staring: she hadn't recognized him. He listened to the voice that had come out of her mouth: it wasn't a voice he knew. His sister, his twin, had been utterly changed. (30.11)
Sure, many of the magical transformations in the novel are just plain cool. But it's easy to forget, with all this awesome shape-shifting going on, that transformations can pack a big emotional punch, too. Sophie is now a majorly powerful sorceress, which sounds great. But we can't help but wonder if her transformation might have changed—even ruined—her relationship with her twin forever.
The Witch of Endor touched Sophie's cheek and the girl opened her eyes. The whites were dotted with silver sparkles […] "This is a terrifying gift I have given you. Within you now is a lifetime—a very long lifetime—of experience. I hope some will be of use to you in the dire days ahead." (36.43-45)
Terrifying gift? That doesn't sound too promising. But remember, Hekate's powers were described as a curse, so it's entirely possible that Sophie's new skills are both a gift and a curse all at once. After all, we can't imagine it will be easy for her to learn how to use then. Nor can we imagine this means anything good for her relationship with her brother. At least until he gets Awakened—if that ever happens. We'll just have to read The Magician to see if Josh finally gets to tap into his own inner awesome.