You Are What You Read

Reviews of books as I read them. This is basically a (web)log of books I've read.

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Location: Lawrenceville, Georgia, United States

I am a DBA/database analyst by day, full time father on evenings and weekends.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke, is a great book and a lot of fun to read. The only (minor) defect is that it starts out just a little slow, which can be a big problem for some readers who are not willing to slog it through for a big payoff. Not real slow mind you, but it takes a while for things to get from interesting to very interesting, to the point where you think, I've got to keep reading this and find out what this is all about.

The story is about two English magicians trying to restore English magic in the early 19th century. Mr. Norrell is a grumpy older man who wants to make English magic respectable and proper, Mr. Strange is his younger pupil who wants to do great things with magic. Mr. Strange goes abroad to help the English against Napoleon. When he returns to England the two magicians go separate ways (not without some difficulties).

The real fun is with the fairy that Norrell calls to help him resurrect a young woman so that her husband will assist him in getting the government ministers to use his magic for England. This causes no end of trouble. The young woman and her husband's servant end up enchanted and transported to the fairy's castle every night for a dance, but they are unable to do or say anything about their predicament. It's quite funny to see them try to ask someone for help and end up talking about something else completely different.

The story ends up going in unpredictable directions, which is interesting, and it all ends up in a satisfying conclusion. It's great to see Strange try new spells and explore magical paths into fairie. One of the best scenes is when he finds the fairy's castle and who all he finds there. There's a lot of footnotes, some as interesting as the story itself. A lot of attention is paid to the history of magic and the different magicians throughout the ages.

This book is definitely an A. The storytelling and rich language make for a great read.


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