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Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell Paperback – Sep 20 2005


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury UK; New edition edition (Sept. 20 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747579881
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747579885
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 6 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 862 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #278,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

The drawing room social comedies of early 19th-century Britain are infused with the powerful forces of English folklore and fantasy in this extraordinary novel of two magicians who attempt to restore English magic in the age of Napoleon. In Clarke's world, gentlemen scholars pore over the magical history of England, which is dominated by the Raven King, a human who mastered magic from the lands of faerie. The study is purely theoretical until Mr. Norrell, a reclusive, mistrustful bookworm, reveals that he is capable of producing magic and becomes the toast of London society, while an impetuous young aristocrat named Jonathan Strange tumbles into the practice, too, and finds himself quickly mastering it. Though irritated by the reticent Norrell, Strange becomes the magician's first pupil, and the British government is soon using their skills. Mr. Strange serves under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars (in a series of wonderful historical scenes), but afterward the younger magician finds himself unable to accept Norrell's restrictive views of magic's proper place and sets out to create a new age of magic by himself. Clarke manages to portray magic as both a believably complex and tedious labor, and an eerie world of signs and wonders where every object may have secret meaning. London politics and talking stones are portrayed with equal realism and seem indisputably part of the same England, as signs indicate that the Raven King may return. The chock-full, old-fashioned narrative (supplemented with deft footnotes to fill in the ignorant reader on incidents in magical history) may seem a bit stiff and mannered at first, but immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School - This delightful first novel exerts a strong and seductive pull on readers who might otherwise balk at its length. Like Philip Pullman's work, it is dark, deep, and challenging. It compares dead-on with Jane Austen's novels, and YAs who have underappreciated her wit may find it delicious when applied to magicians. Clarke even tosses in a bit of Dickens and Hardy - with great characterization, subplots, and a sense of fate bearing down hard on us. At stake is the future of English magic, which has nearly dwindled to all theory by the early 1800s, after centuries of prominence. When the book opens, only the reclusive and jealous Gilbert Norrell is practicing. Enter Jonathan Strange, a natural who has never studied magic formally. Norrell resents, then adopts Strange as a pupil whose growth he insists on controlling until the two come to the impasse that nearly leads them to destroy one another. Strange champions the 12th century's "Raven King" as the greatest magician in English history and hopes to summon him from Faerie, an alternate world. Norrell is determined to erase both from English memory - to hide the fact that he himself made a bargain with a fairy that has cost three people their lives, though their hearts go on dismally beating. Expertly written and imagined, the book is a feast for fans of fantasy, historical novels, or simply fabulously engrossing reads. - Emily Lloyd, formerly at Rehoboth Beach Public Library, DE
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 4 2004
Format: Paperback
I truly did not expect to like this book--this big, this enormous, intimidating book. My friends in my book club voted to read it (I didn't), but they were right and I was wrong. And to accept defeat, I announce with a shout: This is one seductively brilliant, imaginative novel! Clarke resurrects nineteenth century England with meticulous skill, then casts over it a Harry Potter-like magical aura. It has to be read to be believed. It all sounds foolish, I know. I was where you are now, smirking, shaking my head, saying, Right, right! But if you have good liberal-minded friends like I do, then you'll see. You'll see.
Other recommended books from my book club: AMAGANSETT by Mill and A SECRET WORD by Paddock
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Ian Gordon Malcomson HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Aug. 10 2008
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is one masterpiece of modern fiction that I recommend young and old alike to read. It certainly exceeds anything the Harry Potter series has to say about the realm of ancient magic as it impinges on the affairs of the modern state. There is a virtual cornucopia of serious history interwoven with delightful, off-the-wall fiction to create a world that will certainly dazzle the senses and make you laugh at the other side of life. I started out listening to the audio rendition and ended up buying the book because it was so good. The story is both simple and complex in nature. It is the late eighteenth century England, and the magical power of sorcerers and the clandestine activities of fairies that once dominated the land centuries before have now fallen silent. Sure, there are thousands of books full of spells and enchantments stored away in dusty, cobwebbed old libraries throughout the kingdom, but who can understand them? The true practice of magic has fallen to a lot of charlatans and quacks who know little of the true power of the ancient formulas. That is until Mr. Norrell, an obscure magician from backwoods England steps forward to breathe new life into the profession and answer to an ancient prophecy that true magic would eventually return to save the kingdom. With the help of a young upstart named Jonathan Strange, Norrell undertakes an assignment to save the British Empire from that pestiferous Napoleon. This is where the story really takes off, and the reader gets to see the fabulous and not-so-fabulous goings-on in the world of magic happen before their very eyes. Norrell, the keeper of the secrets, is willing to take on Strange as his apprentice only if he obeys the master's instructions.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on Jan. 24 2008
Format: Paperback
Most fantasy strikes for the bad ripoffs of Tolkien, or other well-known (though not always great) authors.

But Susanna Clarke dazzles in a subtle way in her debut novel, "Jonathan Clarke & Mr. Norrell," a sprawling opus that took a decade to write. Think if Jane Austen had written fantasy about feuding magicians, and you'll have a pretty good idea of how this reads.

It's the early 19th century, in England. The Napoleonic wars threaten England, but that's not the only struggle going on. Magic is all but dead in England; the so-called magicians don't actually want to handle it, but want to leave it to old books and stories. Once the English magicians were powerful and respected, but now they just write boring essays about magic. Except for Mr. Norrell, a cautious little Yorkshire man who taught himself how to do magic.

However, things take a twist when he gives his help in the battle against Napolean -- a new magician enters the scene, the enthusiastic and charming Jonathan Strange. The two magicians begin to work together, but things begin to go awry when Mr. Norrell realizes that Jonathan is attracted to all magic -- including the more dangerous varieties. He's increasingly fascinated by the legend of the Raven King, a changeling child who ruled Faerie and Earth...

Historical fantasies have rarely been as detailed and rich as this one -- usually either the "historic" or the "fantasy" is abused. Often the best authors can do is write alternate universe stories where America lost the Revolution, the Roman Empire never fell, and so on.

But Susanna Clarke shatters that with her richly-realized look at 19th-century Britain, with unique magic and a slight mythologic twist.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a very enjoyable novel as it provides a very innovative view on magic. The author conceived a tale where two individuals undertake to bring magic back to England in the 19th century. The imagination of the author appears boundless as she makes reference to a multitude of (made-up) historical facts and anecdotes on how magic was used by the magicians of the past and how it is now used by these two new magicians.

I am not entirely enthusiastic about this novel mainly because of the style used by the author to present us the story. It takes the form of a serial story with no apparent plot in the first half of the book. For over 500 pages, I was under the impression that the idea followed by the author was to present us short tales that evolve around the same characters, mostly with the purpose of elaborating her original take on magic with an emphasis put on the English social life in the early 19th century. It is only later that we are presented with a plot that generates more development between the characters. That is an interesting approach, but I cannot help having the feeling that the story was sometime dragging, hence the four stars.

On a side note, I would recommend the Lyonesse trilogy, written by Jack Vance, to anyone that has enjoyed how Susanna Clarke has developed the fairy characters in this book. I am not a specialist in "fairy litterature", but the approach of both authors on this aspect is very similar and immensely entertaining.
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