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. (from Goodreads)
It might be a bit too early in the year to say this, but I’m pretty sure this book will be my favorite read in 2018.
There are not enough words in my vocabulary to praise this work. I don’t think I have ever read something like this before, and it’s a bit disheartening to know that most of the books I’ll read from now on won’t be any close to this level of “muchness”, for lack of a better word.
This book has so many things that I always enjoy in a novel: it merges an actual historical context with a fictional story, which happens to be a fantastic story, you know, with MAGIC. Magic that actually could be, more or less, easily learned from books, because, before anything, magicians are scholars, and not just a different type of humans born with powers or whatever. Many of these books are referenced not only by the characters, but by the author, in the uncountable FOOTNOTES that explain us this or that theory from this or that author, all of them fictional, you know. So this is not just a made out story, it comes with a made out bibliography, wich I just can’t even handle the amount of work of invention. The footnotes are also filled with episodes and legends from English magical past, which adds so much DENSITY to the main plot line. And all of these is written in a 19th century fashion.
And then, it happens that all of these reasons for which I can’t do nothing but love this book, are the reasons for which some people just couldn’t go forward and abandoned its reading, which saddens me; this also made me realize that the book might just not be for everybody’s taste, so proceed with caution (?).
There’s a BBC adaptation of this book, which aired in 2015. I watched it then, and rewatched it after I finished the book.
If you like the series, you’ll probably like the book too, as it goes much deeper than what a tv adaptation can manage (it’s still a great adaptation, though).
If you just can’t with the book, the series could be a good substitute, as it moves forward without the book constant deviations.
And for the record, I’m Team Strange, but I’m actually such a Norrell