In the Hugo-award winning, epic New York Times Bestseller and basis for the BBC miniseries, two men change England's history when they bring magic back into the world.
In the midst of the Napoleonic Wars in 1806, most people believe magic to have long since disappeared from England - until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers and becomes an overnight celebrity.
Another practicing magician then emerges: the young and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's pupil, and the two join forces in the war against France.
But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wild, most perilous forms of magic, and he soon risks sacrificing his partnership with Norrell and everything else he holds dear.
Susanna Clarke's brilliant first novel is an utterly compelling epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the two magicians who, first as teacher and pupil and then as rivals, emerge to change its history.
Time #1 Book of the Year
Book Sense Book of the Year
People Top Ten Books of the Year
Winner of the Hugo Award
New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Salon.com Top Ten of 2004
Winner of the World Fantasy Award
Nancy Pearl's Top 12 Books of 2004
Washington Post Book World's Best of 2004
Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction 2004
San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2004
Winner of the Locus Award for Best First Novel
Chicago Tribune Best of 2004
Seattle Times 25 Best Books of 2004
Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 12 Books of 2004
Village Voice "Top Shelf"
Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2004
Rocky Mountain News critics' favorites of 2004
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Susanna Clarke’s genre-busting 2004 debut set a new benchmark in historical fantasy. Clarke imagines an early-19th-century England where magic—once as indispensable as science or religion—finds its champions dismissed as crackpots and charlatans. Enter the reclusive-but-brilliant Mr. Norrell, who is hell-bent on restoring English magic to its former glory. His efforts work almost too well, heralding a magical renaissance that unearths the charming, talented, and terrifyingly reckless Jonathan Strange. Is Strange destined to become Norrell’s pupil—or his nemesis? This Dickensian epic is so compelling you don’t even have to be a fantasy fan to fall under its spell.
A starred or boxed review indicates a book of outstanding quality. A review with a blue-tinted title indicates a book of unusual commercial interest that hasn't received a starred or boxed review.JONATHAN STRANGE & MR NORRELLSusanna Clarke. Bloomsbury, (800p) 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.
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A Magnificent Achievement
JSMN is my favorite book of all time. The characters, the story and, most importantly, the language - all of it comes together in perfect conjunction to create a masterpiece of English literature.
I can't praise or recommend it enough.