Monday, May 7, 2012

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Susanna Clarke

Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians. They met upon the third Wednesday of every month and read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic. They were gentleman-magicians, which is to say they had never harmed any one by magic- nor ever done any one the slightest good. In fact, to own the truth, not one of these magicians had ever cast the smallest spell, nor by magic caused one leaf to tremble upon a tree, made one mote of dust to alter its course or changed a single hair upon any one's head. But, with this one minor reservation, they enjoyed a reputation as some of the wisest and most magical gentlemen in Yorkshire.

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is an epic tale of nineteenth-century England and two magicians, first teacher and student, then rivals, who change its history. In 1806, most people believe magic no longer exists in England- until Mr Norrell (note the British Mr) of Hurtfew Abbey reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity. Another magician emerges: young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. Strange becomes Norrell's student, and the two join forces in the war against France. But as Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, he risks sacrificing everything that he values, including his partnership with Norrell.

I just loved this book, which was written in a typical British style with humor and wit. Though the book is over 800 pages long, I don't think I was ever bored by it. There's a whole host of great characters, funny and strange. It's really just hard to describe this book, but if you decide to read it, you will be rewarded. There are long "historical" footnotes at the bottom of pages, there are fairies, shady characters, and bumbling politicians. In short, everything you could ask for in a story of any kind, especially a fantasy story. Bear in mind, though, that if you're looking for a story about magicians throwing magic at one another, this is not the book for you. It's more subtle than that. There were a lot of side-plots in the book that all eventually came together.

Read Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell:
  • if you like fantasy
  • if you like books written in a British style
  • if you like books set in England
  • if you're looking for a great, witty, humorous, all-around wonderful book
846 pages.


Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf For Rereading (jf I own it)!

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