I've been an avid follower of these books, as they are written with both complex and delightfully entertaining characters, while incorporating facets of historical events and figures. While the characters have always been the huge draw for me concerning these books, The Necromancer takes character development a step further with the evolution of Josh and Sophie, particularly Josh in this installment. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Michael Scott has been building up to the inevitable separation of Josh and Sophie in the previous books, foreshadowing the plot point with Josh's jealousy- and guilt-driven asides towards his sister. While we've known that Sophie has oftentimes regretted her Awakening, Josh has craved ultimate power and autonomy over his own destiny, and he has been cajoled by John Dee into believing that joining his side is the answer to all of his ailments. Scott begins to draw serious parallels between Dee and Josh, and although Josh hasn't quite decided whose side he is on definitively, it becomes glaringly obvious towards the end of The Necromancer that he's beginning to associate Sophie with the Flamels, his enemies at this point (or so he thinks). What's so interesting about this book (and the series in general) is that you're constantly guessing and questioning the motives of all characters, right down to William Shakespeare and Palamedes. Which side is the right side to be on when the end of the world draws near? Even Machiavelli (one of my favorite characters) begins to wonder whether he' truly has it all figured out, or whether he's just as much of a pawn as the humani he so carelessly discarded over the course of his immortality.
There are also distinct character changes in this book, or rather, revisions of the way some of the characters are perceived by the reader as we are given new insights and additional information through minor characters and through the shift in Josh's perceptions. Perenelle, for example, comes across as extremely frigid and non-maternal, particularly through her underlying intent to save the humani race at any cost. Will she sacrifice Josh and Sophie if it means saving the world? Are the Flamels truly any better than Dee? Are both sides so intrinsically linked in their self-righteousness that they're both completely off base?
Scatty, the Flamels, Dee, and Machiavelli all take (arguably) minor roles in this book, and the slow and inevitable rise of the world's most powerful Elders and Archons are falling into place. In the next book, however, we are promised a culmination of "the champions of the humani," splitting plot points and diverging characters who have spent most of the books together on very different journies. I'm also wondering if Scatty's intriguing sister, Aoife, will be reappearing somewhere down the line.
Overall, an enthralling read, with tons of significant character development for some, and promising plot points to come!