Saturday, July 22, 2006

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, by Susanna Clarke

I ran out of books to read during a recent trip to China and not-surprisingly found that English-language texts are hard to come by. This one cost me ¥100 and I picked it mainly because of it’s length: over 1000 pages. Unfortunately, I was ready for it to be over after about 700.

This book is hard to describe, sort of a cross between historical fiction and pure fantasy. The premise is somewhat interesting: set in the early 1800’s with England at war with France, magic did once exist but there haven’t been any practicing magicians for generations. The characters of the title begin to rediscover magic and in doing so change the world. It was interesting enough, but seemed in desperate need of editing. It was very well written: snappy dialog and complete characters, but there was simply too much. For instance, there is a liberal use of footnotes which give backstory and “historical” anecdotes. Some of these footnotes, though, last for five or six pages, and that in the smaller footnote font! It was interesting enough to keep me reading through the end, but I don’t think I’ll be looking for the next tome in the series anytime soon.

First Sentence:
Some years ago there was in the city of York a society of magicians.

1 comment:

guile said...

jonathan strange.. i love that book :)..

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