Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

An Alternate History of Two Magicians During the Napoleonic Wars, By Susanna Clarke

Rating: 4 (4)

I finally finished Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke, which I really enjoyed. It’s about two magicians, set in England during the Napoleonic Wars. When the story begins, magicians are almost an anachronistic remnant of Britain’s past (according to the story, magic once abounded but has since disappeared). Instead, there are only theoretical magicians, as opposed to practical magicians, who study magic in an academic manner. However, two “practical magicians” appear on the scene and attempt to rediscover magic, piecing things together.

All in all, it’s long, but it’s funny (a sort of dry, British humor) and very enjoyable. Plot-driven and well-conceived, IMHO. To quote Wikipedia: “It has been described as a fantasy novel, an alternate history, and an historical novel.” I’m not much for fantasy (with the exception of the Harry Potter series, obviously), but I liked this take on magic. Recommended. A solid 4 stars.

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