By: Zen Cho
Narrator: Jenny Sterlin
Rating: 4 stars
Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Magic
Released Date: September 1, 2015
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…
I listened to this book for #DSFFBookClub first book and I really enjoyed it. I did not realize that this was going to be set in London at first—or I didn’t remember—but I was over the moon found out. I’m a big fan of British literature in general, so it made this book all the more enjoyable.
The alto-soprano fluxes of the narrator’s voice for this book I found helped to sell the dry, British humor that may be lost on readers in the text form who may not be familiar with the heavy, sarcastic and smart—sometimes crude-undertones in the dialogue.
I did feel at odds with the pacing of the book at times, but my interests in the narrative and the characters remained constant throughout. One thing is certain not to be missed from the story’s context are the strong racial discrimination theme, which stalks Zacharias like the plague.
Whatsmore, though I really liked Zacharias dedication to the society (and to the crown), his intelligence, integrity, gentlemanly-ways and bravery throughout the story, hands down, Prunella is/was my favorite character from the moment the reader/listener is introduced to her.
Of course, I did feel for Zacharias’ character and empathized with the conditions he endured growing up as a free slave, but I felt its connection to the strong political plot point made a large part of the story predictable.
Along with the message on gender inequality, the ugliness of racial prejudices and classism (though the story is set in in/around the late 18th century, so not really surprising), I loved the surprising magic scenes and spells in this book. Along with the unwavering shroud of mystery the author strings along through the book with the society’s loss of magic, assassination attempts, the secrets of Prunella’s “treasures,” heritage and the secret behind Zacharias becoming the Sorcerer Royal being linked to his predecessor, teacher and surrogate father, Sir Stephen. (I mean, it’s pretty heavy stuff. Yet so, very, very exciting ^_^)
Although strongly steered by the theme of Zacharias’ ethnicity ill legitimizing his claim to the title of Sorcerer Royal and his citizenship, Prunella’s humor, cunning, magical ambitions and genuine innocence really puts a lighter and more optimistic tone to the narrative. Zacharias was lucky to have her in his corner and he in hers. I think the world could do with a bit more of characters like Prunella, whom like Zacharias was objectified by not only her ethnic background (whom is biracial), but her strong and naturally inherited ability to do magic.
Despite this, Prunella’s character rarely seemed to be structurally changed—characteristically—throughout her journey from being a stand-in magical professor and confidential magics containment enforcer at Mrs. Daubeney’s magical school in the country to the next Sorcerer Royal.
I can tell I’ve already given some stuff away, but I hope al I’ve done was steer you in the direction of your nearest book store or library to pick up this book. I’ve already started recommending this book to other, Historical, British-lit, Magic and Sci-fi fiction lovers. ^__^. I am interested in following this series as it continues.
As always, thanks so much for reading. 🙂
Until the next post,