Friday, 11 September 2015

Sorcerer To The Crown

Sorcerer To The Crown
Rating: 4/5 
Buy or Borrow: Buy 
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, 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 was so intrigued when I read the synopsis for this and so excited to be sent a copy to review by the publisher! I'm a bit early with this review, by the time you read this on my blog, I'll have finished it over a week ago but I decided to just jump in with it! It was such a fun and rich read that had me laughing, booing, shaking my head and getting way too emotionally involved in it! 

First of all, it's got to be said, I started this right after I'd just finished reading and reviewing a kids book SO, it took me a couple of pages to get my brain in gear and get used to the writing style and way of speech of the characters. Some people may struggle or may not like the writing style, I did find it heavy in the beginning before I got used to it and then I didn't really notice. It's delightfully authentic, I think, but was occasionally a wee bit stilted in the dialogue. It is very beautiful to read though, and some beautiful descriptions, not to mention relationships. I did rather love Zacharias's relationship with Mrs. Wythe. 

The world of the book is an alternate London where magic is used freely, but only by the men of course because us mere women are too "delicate" to be able to use it. The magic isn't as....flowing shall we say, as it used to be and there's all this background history and these intricate politics between England and Fairy and France and other places. It was fascinating to read about all of it and like I said, it was very rich but explained in such a way that it wasn't thrown at you all at once, and you could follow it and understand fairly quickly and early on. It all helped to suck you in to the world and make the world of the book so engrossing. 

The world building was fantastic. I can't say I've ever visited Regency era London (har har) but I got a definite feel for the place. A bit too full of sexism and bigotry for my tastes, I spent a great deal of time feeling rather outraged on our characters behalf. Not that everything is all hunky dory nowadays but still. You got a very brutally truthful and realistic look at the time period, and the world building was so imaginative and enchanting that you could completely lose yourself in the world of the book. I mean....there's magic, dragons, fairies, vampires, various other familiars and a murderous mermaid. To name a few. You get completely swept in to the world and your imagination certainly gets a workout. 

I found the world of the book and the magical system of the book to be original and imaginative and I loved reading about. I do love books with rich mythology/history/etc to them and this book, like I said, is full of it so you're completely sucked in to the book and it's such a magical place to be in this book. If not...ya know....a time you'd ACTUALLY want to be in. Or at least I wouldn't. The magical system of the book was very well done and I enjoyed the whole deal with the French bit. I'm not saying anything too specific because spoilers! 

I've got to say, the "Society"/"Nobles" or whatever you want to call them could give Gossip Girl a run for it's money. It was like a regency GG but with more murder and deviousness. It was a complete and utter snakepit, backstabbing and betrayal all over the place and even the blokes weren't above being bitchy. So much of history is romanticised and everyone's like "oh I'd love to live in that time" or whatever, but this book is realistic and truthful and accurately portrays what a, quite frankly, crappy time it was to live in. Not least for POC. I'm actually still feeling quite outraged! 

The plot is fast paced and had some laugh out loud moments, it really was a fun read. The romance took a while to come to fruition and wasn't the main point of the plot completely, it was woven in to the plot perfectly and wasn't an easy romance at all. At some points I didn't get the romance seeing as (as you'll see when I talk characters below) at points I didn't think Prunella cared about Zacharias at all, certainly she didn't care what effect her actions would have on him and his position, which was kind of horrible of her considering all he did for her! As I was reading I was guessing at things as I tried to work out what was going on from the plot threads we had so far, but there where so many twists and turns that when it all started to come together I was pleasantly surprised and when it does come together you realise just how intricate the plot is with all the threads woven together. You realise the full extent of the plot, basically. 

Zacharias I connected to first, and I became quite ridiculously protective of Zacharias. I mean, here he is, he's getting treated horrifically by his fellows, including people he actually gave a leg up in the Society, people keep trying to murder him and he's completely and utterly burdened by duty and his position and everything he has to sort out. So I really felt for him, and I was rooting for him to basically sort everything and say a giant F you to the Society. He was such an interesting character and so well written I completely loved him from the start. 

Which is why I could never quite decide if I liked Prunella. Initially and at various other parts of the book, I really liked her. She was feisty, she made me laugh, she knew what she wanted and was another very interesting character with an interesting and mysterious family past. BUT. At times, she would royally screw things up for Zacharias with her general selfishness that she dressed up a lot as ambition and she was quite cold about achieving it. At those times, I was never sure if I actually liked her or not. Perhaps if I hadn't liked Zacharias quite so much I would be able to say I 100% loved her but I can't say that because of my poor Zacharias and how she messed things up for him! 

Both characters face so much prejudice and you really see it in the book, it's brutally honest about it and doesn't try to dress it up or make it all romantic or whatever. So much bigotry. So much sexism. Colonialism at it's "finest" (read: worst). It was incredibly well done, and sensitively done. I found the relationship between Zacharias and Sir Stephen particularly interesting. 

Sorcerer To The Crown features a complex plot, made up of many threads that give you plenty of surprises when the plot twists. Each of these threads comes together to create a satisfying ending to the book, leaving things fairly nicely wrapped up. It's fast paced, has plenty of humour to create some laugh out loud moments, and is very beautifully written. Sorcerer To The Crown gives you a brutally authentic look at this particularly....I can't even find the right word, but it's bad, time period and doesn't pull it's punches when showcasing the darker sides to the time period usually glossed over or romanticised in other books. With an imaginative and vivid world, and full of magic and magical creatures, it's an enchanting read that'll have you staying up late to read just that one more chapter. 

1 comment:

  1. I think this is one of the most beautiful book covers I've ever seen! Sooo eye catching. The story sounds brilliant too - especially since you enjoyed the world building! Some books have a unique sounding world, but the world building doesn't do it justice!

    Sarah @ Novels & Whimsy


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