Thursday, 10 September 2015

Sorceror To The Crown by Zen Cho - a review

Magic in Regency England - sound a familiar setting? If you are a fan of Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell then you really need to get your hands on a copy of this.

Zacharius Wythe is England's Sorcerer Royal, the leader of the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but at a time when magic levels are failing and the Fairie Realm is blocking supplies his is not a good position to be in. Add to all this the fact that he is African, may or may not have killed his mentor and has a faction of The Society plotting against, certainly not a good time to be Zacharius Wythe.

All is not lost though as, while visiting a school where girls are being taught how to 'not practice' magic (magic at this time solely to be used by men) he meets Prunella, an orphan who may just have discovered the greatest thing to happen to magic for hundreds of years. All they have to do is face racism, sexism, plots and hostility around every corner and all will be well with the world but if they team up and work together, well, you never know, they might just do it.

At the time I started reading this book our book club (Waterstones Fantasy and Sci-Fi book club, Orchard Square, Sheffield, 1st Thursday of every month) decided that this month's book would be Strange and Norrell so I decided to read both books at the same time, a compare and contrast if you like. I'm glad I did as Sorcerer To The Crown is a much better book than S and N. I wouldn't say the characters in Sorcerer are nicer, more not as horrible and certainly more believable. The London of Sorcerer is much more London-like and Fairy Land and it's inhabitants - well, they were an absolute joy. I guess the big difference for me between Sorcerer and S and N is the writing. I always thought Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell felt like it was written in the style of the time it was set which made it difficult to get on with at times, Sorcerer To The Crown has a much clearer prose style.

According to the author bio this is Zen Cho's first novel - I certainly look forward to reading more from her


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