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Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scott

necromancer michael scott Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scott

Long-time readers of this site will know that Ive been on the fence about this best-selling series by Michael Scott. Though theyre packed with myriad ingredients that typically result in an exemplary, eminently readable experiencenon-stop action, mythology galore, dozens of historical characters given a modern-day twist, and humor in spadesIve found them somewhat bloated and tedious at times. Each book, though spanning roughly two to three days of story-time, runs at around four or five hundred pages, and the point of view characters increase at what seems like an exponential rate with each book. The result is dozens of slightly differing perspectives of the same event, and plenty of wheel-spinning as we catch glimpses of what each character, and oh, there are a lot of them, is up to at a given point in time.

But The Necromancer represents a turning point in this series. Really, in my mind, the previous books could be condensed into one, with this being the sequel. Though just as action-oriented and full of monsters, mythology and amusing nods to history, the myriad points of view begin to narrow down to something more solid and streamlined, and rather than feeling like a series of fairly disparate but chronically parallel threads, they group into storylines that really begin to move the plot forward.

After escaping from London, Josh and Sophie are at home in San Francisco at last, and the events of the past week are having time to register. Their parents and relatives, who up until now have been non-entities begin to emerge as characters in their own right, and seek to exercise some control over their wayward children. But the twins have rather large targets painted on their magical backs, and megalomaniac John Dee and his evil forces continue to hunt them downwith even more gusto now that Dees immortality has been compromised by his inaction.

The twins find themselves under the protection of Scathachs twin sister Aoife, and their loyalties to the enigmatic Nicholas Flamel and his wife Perenelle are challenged time and time again as others question the Flamels motives and past actions. But though Sophie, exhausted by the pressure and responsibility placed upon her, longs to simply step away from the going-on, the stakes continue to rise, and with them, her involvement. Dee, who now has a price on his head, turns away from his dark bosses and instead seeks to assert himself in another way: by attempting to take over the world. And Josh? Unlike Sophie, Josh is drawn by the power imbued by his awakening, and bit by bit he inches closer to the dark side. But, really, which side is the dark side?

The Necromancer'continues the breakneck speed of the previous volumes in the series, but with its tighter, neater approach to plotting, it doesnt feel as messy or enervated. Scott continues to introduce characters from history and from various mythologies, and this volume introduces us to famous Japanese ronin Musashi and to the Mesoamerican figure Quetzalcoatl among others. There are some questionable additionsseveral chapters involving Aunt Agnes, for no apparent reason, although perhaps the motivation behind this will become clearer in the subsequent books, and some rather long treks through the underworld that could easily have been pared back. As an aside, the title, too, is an odd one that has been seemingly forced upon the book due to the need for titular consistency more than any driving plot-related reason.

The characters, however, continue to grow in this book, as they did in the previous one (in the first two in the series there was next to no character development). Perenelle Flamel is of particular interest: she is portrayed as cold and pragmatic in her quest to save the human race no matter what the cost, and this makes for some interesting contrast against that of Dee or Machiavelli, who exhibit similar tendencies. Nicholas Flamel, on the other hand, seems less concerned with the destiny of humanity and far more concerned with his own immortality, while Machiavellis sudden desire to recant his own immortality adds some depth to his character. Josh and Sophie, oddly, are fairly static as characters, with Josh finally making a decision that was expected of him some volumes before, and Sophie continuing to despair over her magical abilities.

The Necromancer, though I wouldnt recommend reading it out of turn, is a solid outing in this series, and one that points to better things to come in the subsequent and final volumes. If youre a fan of breakneck pacing and a lover of all things mythology-related, youll likely enjoy it and its predecessors.

Rating: star Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scottstar Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scottstar Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scottblankstar Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scottblankstar Book Review: The Necromancer by Michael Scott (good)

With thanks to Simple Schooling for the review copy

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  1. These books have been on my radar since I read the review of the first of the series on your blog. Want to start the series when I know Ill have time to actually read them all. Great review.

  2. Ive been on the fence about this series. But maybe I should give them a try. Youre review makes them sound like I would at least find them entertaining.

  3. Stephanie /

    Let me know how you go, PujI love elements of them, but as a whole, not so much. I hope you enjoy them. :)

    Id recommend heading over to Percy Jackson before trying these, Jami, but these do get better as the series progresses. Id recommend reading them all in a row rather than allowing gaps between the books, though. :)

  4. William Ferrel /

    Very good review for the necromancer !

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