Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel

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At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England-until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

Time Magazine #1 Book of the Year « Book Sense Book of the Year « People Top Ten Books of the Year « Winner of the Hugo Award « A New York Times Notable Book of the Year « Top Ten of 2004 «Winner of the World Fantasy Award « Nancy Pearl's Top 12 Books of 2004 « Washington Post Book World's Best of 2004 « Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction 2004 « San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2004 « Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel « Chicago TribuneBest of 2004 « Seattle Times 25 Best Books of 2004 « Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 12 Books of 2004 « Village Voice "Top Shelf" « Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2004 « Rocky Mountain Newscritics' favorites of 2004 « Kansas City Star 100 Newsworthy Books of 2004 « Fort Worth Star-Telegram 10 Best Books of 2004 « Hartford Courant Best Books of 2004

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781427267207
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Publication date: 04/14/2015
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 6.50(h) x 2.40(d)

About the Author

Susanna Clarke was born in Nottingham, England, in 1959, the eldest daughter of a Methodist minister. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and has worked in various areas of nonfiction publishing. She has published a number of short stories and novellas in American anthologies, as well as her collection of short stories entitled The Ladies of Grace Adieu, and Other Stories.


Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England

Date of Birth:

November 16, 1959

Place of Birth:

Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England


B.A. in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, 1981

Read an Excerpt

(takes place in Venice, after Strange and Norrell have parted ways. Drawlight, a servant of Mr Norrell’s has come with foul intentions, either to abduct or murder Strange. But Strange, obsessed with the Raven King, has other plans…)


            “I will show you,” said Strange, “and then you will understand. If you perform these three tasks, I shall take no revenge on you. I shall not harm you. Deliver these three messages and you may return to your night-hunts, to your devouring of men and women.”

            “Thank you! Thank you!” breathed Drawlight, gratefully, until a horrible realisation gripped him. “Three! But, sir, you only gave me two!”

            “Three messages,” said Strange, wearily. “You must deliver three messages.”

            “Yes, but you have not told me what the third is!”

            Strange made no reply. He turned away, muttering to himself.

            In spite of all his terror, Drawlight had a great desire to get hold of the magician and shake him. He might have done it too, if he thought it would do any good. Tears of self-pity began to trickle down his face. Now Strange would kill him for not performing the third task and it was not his fault.

            “Bring me a drink of water!” said Strange, suddenly returning.

            Drawlight looked around. In the middle of the Venetian square there was a well. He went over to it and found a horrible old iron cup attached to the stones by a length of rusting chain. He pushed aside the well-cover, drew up a pail of water and dipped the cup into the water. He hated touching it. Curiously, after everything that had happened to him that day it was the iron cup he hated the most. All of his life he had loved beautiful things, but now everything that surrounded him was horrible. It was the magicians’ fault. How he hated them!

“Sir? Lord magician?” he called out. “You will have to come here to drink.” He showed the iron chain by way of an explanation.

            Strange came forward, but he did not take the proffered cup. Instead he took a tiny phial out of his pocket and handed it to Drawlight. “Put six drops in the water,” he said.

            Drawlight took out the stopper. His hand was trembling so much that he feared he would pour the whole thing on the ground. Strange did not appear to notice; Drawlight shook in some drops.

            Strange took the cup and drank the water down. The cup fell from his hand. Drawlight was aware—he did not know how exactly—that Strange was changed. Against the starry sky the black shape of his figure sagged and his head drooped. Drawlight wondered if he were drunk. But how could a few drops of any thing make a man drunk? Besides he did not smell of strong liquor; he smelt like a man who had not washed himself or his linen for some weeks; and there was another smell too—one that had not been there a minute ago—a smell like old age and half a hundred cats.

            Drawlight had the strangest feeling. It was something he had felt before when magic was about to happen. Invisible doors seemed to be opening all around him; winds blew on him from far away, bringing scents of woods, moors and bogs. Images flew unbidden into his mind. The houses around him were no longer empty. He could see inside them as if the walls had been removed. Each dark room contained -- not a person exactly -- a Being, an Ancient Spirit. One contained a Fire; another a Stone; yet another a Shower of Rain; yet another a Flock of Birds; yet another a Hillside; yet another a Small Creature with Dark and Fiery Thoughts; and on and on.

            “What are they?” he whispered, in amazement. He realised that all the hairs on his head were standing on end as if he had been electrified. Then a new, different sensation took him: it was a sensation not unlike falling, and yet he remained standing. It was as if his mind had fallen down…

He thought he stood upon an English hillside. Rain was falling; it twisted in the air like grey ghosts. Rain fell upon him and he grew thin as rain. Rain washed away thought, washed away memory, all the good and the bad. He no longer knew his name. Everything was washed away like mud from a stone. Rain filled him up with thoughts and memories of its own. Silver lines of water covered the hillside, like intricate lace, like the veins of an arm. Forgetting that he was, or ever had been, a man, he became the lines of water. He fell into the earth with the rain.


*  *  *


He thought he lay beneath the earth, beneath England. Long ages passed; cold and rain seeped through him; stones shifted within him. In the Silence and the Dark he grew vast. He became the earth; he became England. A star looked down on him and spoke to him. A stone asked him a question and he answered it in its own language. A river curled at his side; hills budded beneath his fingers. He opened his mouth and breathed out Spring...


*  *  *


He thought he was pressed into a thicket in a dark wood in winter. The trees went on forever, dark pillars separated by thin, white slices of winter light. He looked down. Young saplings pierced him through and through; they grew up through his body, through his feet and hands. His eyelids would no longer close because twigs had grown up through them. Insects scuttled in and out of his ears; spiders built nests and webs in his mouth. He realised he had been entwined in the wood for years and years. He knew the wood and the wood knew him. There was no saying any longer what was wood and what was man.

            All was silent. Snow fell. He screamed...




            Like rising up from beneath dark waters, Drawlight came to himself. Who it was that released him—whether Strange, or the Wood, or England itself—he did not know, but he felt its contempt as it cast him back into his own mind. The Ancient Spirits withdrew from him. His thoughts and sensations shrank to those of a Man. He was dizzy and reeling from the memory of what he had endured. He examined his hands and rubbed the places on his body where the trees had pierced him. They seemed whole enough; oh, but they hurt! He whimpered and looked around for Strange.

            The magician was a little way off, crouching by a wall, muttering magic to himself. He struck the wall once; the stones bulged, changed shape, became a raven; the raven opened its wings and, with a loud caw, flew up towards the night sky. He struck the wall again: another raven emerged from the wall and flew away. Then another and another, and on and on, thick and fast they came until all the stars above were blotted out by black wings.

Strange raised his hand to strike again...

            “Lord magician,” gasped Drawlight. “You have not told me what the third message is.”

            Strange looked round. Without warning he seized Drawlight’s coat and pulled him close. Drawlight could feel Strange’s stinking breath on his face and for the first time he could see his face. Starlight shone on fierce, wild eyes, from which all humanity and reason had fled.

            “Tell Norrell I am coming!” hissed Strange. “Now, go!”

            Drawlight did not need to be told twice. He sped away through the darkness. Ravens seemed to pursue him. He could not see them, but he heard the beating of their wings and felt the currents in the air that those wings created. Halfway across a bridge he tumbled without warning into dazzling light. Instantly he was surrounded by the sound of birdsong and of people talking. Men and women were walking and talking and going about their everyday pursuits. Here was no terrible magic—only the everyday world—the wonderful, beautiful everyday world.

Drawlight’s clothes were still drenched in seawater and the weather was cruelly cold. He was in a part of the city he did not recognize. No one offered to help him and for a long time he walked about, lost and exhausted. Eventually he happened upon a square he knew and was able to make his way back to the little tavern where he rented a room. By the time he reached it, he was weak and shivering. He undressed and rinsed the salt from his body as best he could. Then he lay down on his little bed.

            For the next two days he lay in a fever. His dreams were unspeakable things, filled with Darkness, Magic and the Long, Cold Ages of the Earth. And all the time he slept he was filled with dread lest he wake to find himself under the earth or crucified by a winter wood.

            By the middle of the third day he was recovered enough to get up and go to the harbor. There he found an English ship bound for Portsmouth. He showed the captain the letters and papers Lascelles had given him, promising a large fee to the ship that bore him back to England and signed by two of the most famous bankers in Europe.

            By the fifth day he was on a ship bound for England.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 73 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In one sentence; this was possibly the most boring book I have ever read. Over 200 pages in and I was still waiting for something to happen that didn't involve a two page description of someone buttering their scone and tying a cravat or some mindless banter about social status and family lineage. The entire book employs an absolutely overwrought attempt at mimicking some early 19th century conversational english that was more than unnerving. I understand the snooty highbrow nature of this endeavor, but you need some kind of story to pull it off. Dozens and dozens of pages of nothing but droll meandering pre-Victorian parlor chat told in some made-up archaic vernacular does not constitute a story I want to immerse myself in. Finally, the use of footnotes that were longer than a page was another tooth grinding annoyance. Its a STORY; not a factual documentary written 200 years ago.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book a year or so after it was published, and the memory and tone of the book stayed with me, although I couldn't remember the Author's name, nor the title. It bothered me so much, I began searching for the book to read again this last year. I finally came across the Title by accident, and bought the book again. I was hoping to find it as a Nook Book or an audio book as it was so enjoyable I could barely put it down the first time. I am now waiting to have an uninterrupted period of time to relish the book one more time.
jpquibrera More than 1 year ago
From beginning to end, "Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell" was pretty much the perfect read. It was exceptional how every chapter's written separately and individually, and might as well stand on its own as a piece of art. Every chapter is indeed a new universe and a great new story, and the beauty of the novel is it brings all these characters and subplots together. Yes, it's true what some people say - this is a LONG book and can get quite tedious at times, but the truth is that's just the nature of it. The bright side is, some of us readers will be completely and utterly amazed at the language and craft of Mrs Clarke's. This is, no doubt, one of the most brilliant novels I've read.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
Yes, I've read a magic book. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rellby Susanna Clarke is a fic­tional book about magi­cians set in 1800s England. Eng­lish magi­cians, once world renowned, are stag­nant in the 1800s and have lost their abil­ity to per­form magic. How­ever, the reclu­sive Mr. Nor­rell of Hurt­few Abbey in York­shire has been col­lect­ing old and for­got­ten Eng­lish magic books. Rais­ing a woman from the dead, Mr. Nor­rell soon finds him­self at the ser­vice of the gov­ern­ment fight­ing the French. Every­thing turns on its head when the hand­some and charm­ing Jonathan Strange, a rival magi­cian, appears. Strange makes a name for him­self dur­ing a cam­paign with Lord Welling­ton. How­ever it is soon obvi­ous that Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell¿s idea of what exactly ¿magic¿ is or ought to be are very different. I usu­ally don¿t read books about magic, but when Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, rec­om­mended Jonathan Strange & Mr. Nor­rell by Susanna Clarke, which was on sale for the day, I grabbed it up immediately. The novel sur­prised me. It was excel­lent, funny and imag­i­na­tive yet not cross­ing into the land of unpro­nounce­able names, fan­tas­tic crea­tures and geog­ra­phy so con­vo­luted my sim­ple mind can­not process it. As in any inter­est­ing book, this one also has lay­ers which allow the reader to think about and explore. Jeal­ousy, friend­ship, envy, love, arro­gance and, of course, redemp­tion are all touched upon by this most inter­est­ing book. The way Ms. Clarke has recre­ated Eng­land was, to me, one of the high­lights of the book. In a style rem­i­nis­cent of Mr. Gaiman she describes, with wit and clar­ity, seedy par­lors, streets, build­ings and houses both of rich and poor. The char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of peo­ple within the story is bril­liant, often funny and able to cre­ate an image. ¿The walls of the par­lour were orna­mented with cheap engrav­ings ¿ por­traits of famous crim­i­nals of the last cen­tury who had all been hanged and por­traits of the King's dis­solute sons who had not been hanged yet.¿ ¿[N]ot been hanged yet¿ ¿ don¿t you love that? The story is told by an anony­mous nar­ra­tor who is writ­ing a his­tory book about Jonathan Strange and Mr. Nor­rell, com­plete with foot­notes and anno­ta­tions. The foot­notes were some of my favorite parts of the book even though they add very lit­tle to the story, how­ever they bring the book to a whole new level and add sev­eral dimen­sions to it. Full of his­tor­i­cal ref­er­ences, sto­ries and brief char­ac­ter­i­za­tions these foot­notes are a delight.
WitchyWriter 6 months ago
First, for the good. The characters of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell are fascinating. Likewise their close friends/advisors are sufficiently fleshed out, and everyone has a different motivation and ends up mucking things up one way or another because they’re slightly at odds to what someone else wants. The sheer pride and obstinate vanity of Mr. Norrell is humorous and frustrating at once. The mentor/apprentice relationship seems to be entering my reading sphere fairly often lately (what with The Killing Moon and The Shadowed Sun), and this one is a nice exploration of a mentor too full of himself to see straight and a respectful but refreshingly independent apprentice doing his own thing regardless. The magic is woven into the historical aspects with grace. The descriptions of magic done on the fields of battle, the illusions used to fool enemies, all are delightful and well-executed. Clarke has very clever notions, and folds them into the story organically. The “villain” if you want to call him that, acted just as his nature bid, and saw no fault in his actions. He wasn’t menacing so much as unknowable, living a life at cross purposes with normal mortal souls. Sometimes the characters and turn of events surprised me, and I usually enjoy that sort of thing. Now, to the not so good. It’s a long book, and covers a long span of time. I feel like it takes a great deal of setup to even get to the main plot and relationship that matters most. It feels accurate, that a story this complex would unfold over such a span of time, but it was slightly frustrating for me to not see the general direction the novel was going in sooner than three-fourths of the way through. There aren’t enough women, and the ones who are in it tend to suffer too much in silence. Yes, it’s a product of that time period, but I didn’t see much of the fire in their souls that commends me to characters. It’s a man’s world and men dominate the book. The women act to provide plot twists and motivation for the men to stop sitting in salons debating the future of England’s magic. The footnotes didn’t really add or detract anything for me, which tells me they were probably unnecessary. I suppose once you’ve read House of Leaves it’s difficult to ever consider footnotes necessary if they aren’t being used to create a whole new layer of meta in a story. Still, I can’t say that I would have enjoyed this book any less without the information contained in the footnotes, which makes me think they aren’t worth distracting your attention from the main narrative to hunt down and read. Even with the bad, though, this is still a beautiful book for what it wants to be. The writing on the sentence level is great, and the ending was fitting and beautiful in a kind of sad, lonely way that perhaps only people with tastes similar to me would appreciate (nothing’s tied up in a nice bow. It’s more complicated and germane to reality, and I like it). If you’re looking for an interesting historical fiction with a touch of the fantastical thrown in–and you don’t mind long novels–this one is definitely for you. Also, props to the author for writing this exactly the way you would imagine Brits of that time period dealing with magic. On that alone it’s worth a read, because it makes you laugh when you stop to think about it.
TiffGabler on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was thoroughly convinced that the Raven King was an actual historic figure. It is an amazing book, up there with Tolkien and Austen. Clarke just rips historical fiction a new one with this book, it is difficult for me to read any other fantasy without applying the standard that Clarke has set with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell.
bojanfurst on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A truly fun read. Clever and wonderfully quirky, this is an amazing debut that manages to make a world of fantasy so utterly believable that more than once I found myself actually checking on some of the 'facts' Clarke so cleverly includes in the footnotes.
celanite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
An eerie and flawlessly executed fairy story in the tradition of Celtic and English tales, where magic is indefinable and the Fae are temperamental and predatory. Rather intellectual stuff, however; this is not for those seeking a fast-paced, action-packed thriller.
RogueBelle on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book has a wonderful premise, and I absolutely love the first two-thirds of it. But, both times I've read it, my attention wanders off in the third act. There's something lacking in the cohesiveness of the plot at that point, and it always loses me. I so much enjoy Clarke's view on magic, though, and she evokes her historical period beautifully.
yosarian on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Magic is back ... and what a magical book it returns in. This was by far my favourite book of 2004, I have enjoyed reading it so much that I have even bought the (unabridged) audio book so that I can have someone else read it to me too! It has been a much talked about and publicised book, I doubt I could add anything else to try and persuade you that; "yes - it is a good idea for you to beg, borrow, buy (not steal) this book and read it" except to say that all the hype is true.The book opens in 1806 in an alternate history to ours where magic was once very much part of the daily life. Now however it is very much theoretical with practising magicians having seemingly disappeared. One man though is determined to bring back practical magic, though he is not anxious for anyone else to know of his magic or how it is performed and finds, buys up and hoards all the books on the subject he can. He is Mr Norrell. Society is now awakened once again to the joys of magic with Mr Norrell helping the English defeat Napoleon (and bringing back to life a young rich lady engaged to a cabinet minister). On the wave of this new found enthusiasm for magic comes Jonathan Strange, seemingly the more 'natural' magician, he cannot find books to study from (because of course Mr Norrell is coveting them) but instead teaches himself and suddenly London has two practising magicians and the country becomes divided between the 'Norrellites' and 'Strangites'. In the background behind all these events and on the edge of every single page like a shadow is the Raven King, the last Magical King of the North. That, as a synopsis, is merely scratching the surface though. Combining a 19th century writing style with history, alternate history, fantasy, magic, comedy of manners, the gothic tale and a very tongue in cheek, dry wit; (and, also at over 750 pages long or 30 CD discs for the audio book) there is a lot of depth to this book that no one single review could hope to capture. And even if it was tried don't forget to mention the footnotes, over 200 of them, throughout the book adding bits to the narrative, outlining the backstory and breathing life into an entire imagined catalogue of magical books and tales any one of which could have made a convincing story on their own.
camarie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is probably my favorite book of all time, and may remain so forever. The characters are lovable and unforgettable. The plot does not drag (though some have told me they thought it did, I wholeheartedly disagree). I have heard talk of a movie version in the works, though I'm not sure how they could make this into a movie. I still will see it on opening day if it becomes reality. Susanna Clarke is extremely talented and genuinely intelligent to invent such a masterpiece. I know, I know, you're thinking 'ANOTHER novel about magic in London? Please, give it a rest.' I assure you, it is not to be judged based on that premise that is well-used. It starts off with a group of magicians who study magic, but do not practice it. That part is hilarious in itself. Then there is Mr. Norrell, the only practical magician that does not perform parlor tricks for change out in the street. He becomes an instant celebrity when nineteenth-century England discovers his abilities. he helps England defeat Napoleon in a very thrilling section of the book. Then enter Jonathan Strange, an apprentice and opposing personality to Mr. Norrell. I don't want to spoil too many details about the story, but it is way more complex than I have written in this review. Regardless of what anyone says, I could not put this book down at all, and despite the 800+ pages, I felt it should have been longer. The ending also left me excited for a sequel, and I have no doubt it will be as perfect as this book was. I do believe Clarke is the only one who could make this story concept beautiful instead of disastrous.
mmillet on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book (a doorstop really)took me a little while to become really attached to it, but once I put the effort in, it really came alive. Clarke has created an alternate Victorian England where magic is a still practiced and is even a part of the very country itself. I love the subtle humor and all the footnotes that Clarke includes to give you insight in to the world of Magic. What a great book!
jimmaclachlan on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I tried the book & then the audio book. I just couldn't work up any interest in the story or the characters. All of the main characters were worthless & the story was just LONG. After reading over 100 pages in the book, I tried the audio book & my thoughts kept wandering until I wasn't sure how much of it I had missed, but most of it.The footnotes were the most interesting parts, but they were very long, some taking several pages. Possibly the book could have been salvaged for me if they'd been more a part of the story. There's obviously a detailed world hidden behind all the wasted words & I hoped I'd come across it eventually. I have far too many other books that are more interesting & entertaining to continue this one, though.
NancyStebbins on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I greatly enjoyed listening to this book. The author did a lovely job creating many distinct characters, each of whom played important (though more or less prominent) roles in the story. The plot is a thing of beauty, all the threads woven together in a seamless (but entertaining) manner. Her prose (those long, rambling, tongue-in-cheek sentences) is lovely. In the end,everything made sense at the end--though not everything was "resolved"--there was a lovely resonance to it.
umar_l on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Terribly disappointed after reading all the hype. Felt bored and it felt too long-winded and sparse. Gave up after a while; don't think I'll be going back to it.
jonbeckett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
One of the best written books I have ever read - and of course it's a wonderful story too.
ImBookingIt on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked the mixture of historical novel, romance, and magic.
cmbohn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved the idea of this book - England using magic to defeat Napoleon. But it did get off to a slow start. It seems that while England did have magic, no real spell have been attempted in the last 150 years. What happened to all the magic? Is there anyone left who can actually DO magic? Yes. There is Mr. Norrell.But Mr. Norrell, especially in the beginning, is not a very sympathetic character. He is fussy, jealous, and frankly, boring. I wasn't sure I really wanted to stick with this story. Then he does his first big spell against Napoleon. He creates an entire armada of ships, complete with sailors and cannons, made solely from - rain. What an enchanting idea! I loved it! So I decided I had to read what happened next.Once Jonathan Strange comes on the scene (which sadly takes almost 200 pages!), the book picked up. Then Norrell tries a spell which drastically changes the situation. Suddenly England is in real trouble, and Napoleon is the least of it. The trouble is that the only people who seem to be aware of what's happening are also completely unable to tell anyone else.I'm not sure who I would recommend this book to. I found it a captivating read, once it really got started. But not everyone will enjoy the pace or the scale of the book. I hate telling people that they need to read about 150 pages before they can tell if they will enjoy the book or not. I did, though, and I'm giving it 4.5 stars.
fig2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A fantasy book of manners? Yes, and it works.Original and clever, this lush novel comments on the society and culture of magic. Strange and Norrell have opposing viewpoints on the role of magic in society and their clash provides a fabulous backdrop for this wonderful book. Just read it! It's great!
booksandwine on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was fairly decent. Perhaps a little too long, but the characterization was rather wonderful. The story, obviously, is about two magicians, Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. Many minor characters are peppered in, and to be honest I thought the minor characters were much more interesting. Don't read this book for the plot, read it for the characters and the rich world of a magical England.
teow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I wanted to like this. I really did. The reviews were great, and the idea sounded awesome, so what went wrong? Well, the characters were for the most part uninteresting and actively unlikable. The female characters in particular are barely present; I mean, they are there, but their lack of agency and personality makes them more walking MacGuffins than people. The magical history the author built up is cute and amusing but not enough to carry the story, which came off as about 200 pages longer than it needed to be. There are funny moments, and the premise has a lot of potential, so I wouldn't call it a complete loss. If you're a big fan of faeries you'll probably get a lot more out of it than I did.
candlemark on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not ACTUALLY steampunk, but perhaps another genre, one I prefer to even that favourite - steam-mage, or steam-magic. A magical world set in a Victorian or Victorian-esque milieu, with elements of the supernatural injected into a rigorously decorous society, this novel reads as a pitch-perfect Victorian-era work, yet weaves in deft touches of magic and fantasy throughout. It's haunting, lyrical, and incredibly well-written.
bhenry11 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Like the best fantasy, Clarke creates an alternative world so entertaining and magical that you almost¿almost¿forget it isn't real; that it's history is not a history you will find in another book. It's this that's so amazing about this work.That said, it's an incredibly hard book to get into and not stray from for the full 1,000 pages or so. I think I read two or three other books in the middle of this one, just to take a break for a week or two. All told, this book took me 6 months to read. Was it worth it? In a word: Yes. This book changed how I view English history, English landscape, English literature, and I suppose England in general. It's a shame that Clarke didn't make at least one major character likable. Both title characters are despicable, self-obsessed and content to out-do each other with little regard for others. If you can get past this, the descriptions of the Fairy King, the Fairy Roads, and the rest of the Clarke-created England is worth the price of admission.
acl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely brilliant. This book is long, but never did I feel it was dragging unnecessarily. Great writing, great language, great characters. An intriguing and original fantasy.
laurieschut on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Interesting book written in style of Dickens, huge coverage of information, lots of fascinating detail, and the characters! Loved this page turner.