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…
The book is set around the Napoleonic war based on the premise of rewriting the period on the premise that magic exists and magicians have an important role in society.There are many strong similarities to Susanna Clarke’s work, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, same time frame, same concept of fairyland sitting alongside England and magic linked mainly to gentlemen and the upper classes. Huge sections refer to proper behaviour and roles in society , reading like a lot of Victorian novels.
Also similar to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell the book is quite a slow burner. Its slowly and carefully constructed, but is almost too slow in stages dragging along with the slow development. Despite that the intricate detail and build up build quite an interesting social, magical and political system . The author also stretches the setup further than Susanna Clarke to the world further afield bringing in Asian and Middle Eastern magical systems and peoples . A large part of the book is actually about pushing back boundaries and changing preconceived concepts , the Sorcerer in question being a black man in a white mans role who in turn is fighting for womens rights within the magical world.
Definitely an interesting debut, well drawn characters, a nice use of language , and occasional great use of humour.
Sometimes the pacing was a little too slow but the book is finished very strongly and is well set up for the follow on.
A dramatised adult fairytale full of wit, snobbery and morals, written in a manner fit for the Queen.
My rating 4/5 @kvothe1984