marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke.

A great garguantuan-sized novel.  A world of fantastic wonder, with footnotes to provide plenty of detail.

That kept me, at least, fascinated until the plot started to pick up.  Even, I, however, noticed that while the book starts with interesting events, they do not really start moving with speed and direction into well into the book.

It opens with the society of magicians in York.  Theoretical magicians, to be sure.  They would no more expect to do magic than a botanist would expect to make a new flower.  But they gain a new member, John Segundus, who was fascinated with the question of practical magicians, which, in due course, leads to him and another member tracking down the title Mr. Norrell on the rumor that he was a practical magician.  He proceeds to demonstrating his powers on condition that the members give up calling themselves magicians.  Segundus refuses the deal, and so is the only one left after Mr. Norrell makes all the statues of the cathedral come to life.

And what that leads to. . . . the use of magic in the Napoleonic wars, Tarot cards warning of many things, a woman who loses half her life in being revived from the dead, a black servant finding himself the particular favorite of a fairy -- much to his dismay, the question of names, the history of the Raven King, wood found in a bog at dawn, the madness of King George, and the ability to see fairies even when they do not wish it.
Tags: fiction reviews: alternate world fantasy

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