This is a book that one wishes would never end. Perfectly crafted, witty, entrancing, highly original, with numerous fine characterizations and a gripping plot. The reader is perfect as well.
Susanna Clarke, if you are reading this, I look forward eagerly to more of your work.
Although totally different writing styles, I would compare this book to Game of Thrones for its ability to develop a a very descriptive multi-layered story, amazing plots and subplots, and outstanding character development.
Loved all the main characters but would have to say, that Steven and Jonathan Strange were my favorites.
I read a number of reviews that talked about getting through the first 8 hours of the book. This was not my impression. I thought the whole book was very well written, interesting, and rewarding. However, the pacing is slow throughout its entirety. This is not a criticism but it is a warning. If you are looking for fast paced adventure, this book will not please you. If you are looking for a very well written book with interesting characters and an unusual theme, you will be very happy with this listen.
My interests run to psychology, popular science, history, world literature, and occasionally something fun like Jasper Fforde. It seems like the only free time I have for reading these days is when I'm in the car so I am extremely grateful for audio books. I started off reading just the contemporary stuff that I was determined not to clutter up my already stuffed bookcases with. And now audio is probably 90% of my "reading" matter.
This book came out at a time when there were a lot of books and movies about magic; some of them about real magic and some about illusionists. Despite a number of recommendations, I was confused about this one, and it didn't help that it was shelved with regular fiction instead of fantasy. Make no mistake, this is a book about real magic; and it most surely belongs in the legitimate fiction section. Clarke uses magic as a very complex metaphor for various kinds of knowledge and technology in our own world; far too complex to try to convey here. That was surprise number one. I was also misled by the title, supposing that the two men were a team of some sort. Well, I suppose they are in some sense, but the relationship between the two is far more nuanced and complicated; the kind of fully realized non-romantic relationship that you rarely come across anywhere these days. That was surprise number two. We are used to seeing books by men with little in the way of female characters, and books by women with very little in the way of male characters. I do not recall a book by a woman with virtually no female characters. There are a couple, and they do have an important role, but their actual "screen time" is very small. That was surprise number three. In fact, the two main female characters give rise to some really interesting meditations on the nature of love, devotion, and marriage. But on that subject I will say no more. Clarke also gives us a vision of faerie true to its origins--a world with its own agenda where humans venture at their own risk. I am looking forward to more books from Susanna Clarke.
This novel came together so elegantly that every unexpected twist felt as if one should have seen it coming, and Clarke's prose was a delight to the ear. I especially enjoyed the digressions into the history of magic.
This book was presented to me as the next Harry Potter. At first I was turned off to the book because it isn't really like Potter at all.
...it's something else. It's hard to pin down really. It has elements of fantasy (magic, duh). It has elements of historical fiction. It has elements of epic fantasy in the fact that the number of characters, their depth, and the richness of the world she has created around them easily lends itself to a series.
Yet, it's not any of those things. It's...a good, deep read. It's so laden with detail that I've actually read (listened and read actually)it three times now and I get something more each time.
Of course it doesn't hurt a bit that Simon Prebble could probably make a phone book sound interesting. But that's just a bonus. The core material is like a good steak. You want to savor each bite and when its over you feel a bit like you've lost something.
Great book if you like thick, atmospheric prose.
Not just for the story, but for the voice that brings it alive, do I love this audio version of this wonderous novel.
This book was delightful. It starts out a little dry, but if you pay attention, you catch the marvelous wit of the prose and the subtle ironies in the story. The world of the book is rich and fascinating, the characters are human and realistically layered (with the exception of the Gentleman, of course, who is *inhuman* and unpredictable - a lovely presentation of fairies!), and the story is rather fun.
The book follows English magicians Mr. Norrell and his pupil Jonathan Strange in their endeavors to restore the practice of English magic to a land where the study of magic has dwindled to mere theory. It takes place in an alternate version of early 1800's England and Europe, and reads like a long-winded biography, complete with informative asides and footnotes. The transitions from story to footnote to story can be hard to follow if you're not paying attention, but they add a lot to the tone of the book and are entertaining nonetheless.
This is a book that I plan to add to my personal collection in hard copy as well, as there are a lot of parts and passages that were particularly fun, and I wanted to share it with others while I was listening. Highly recommended.
A lot of people have stated that this book was slow, but so is Jane Austin, which is who I was reminded of. The language and diction is wonderful and I enjoyed listening to the dialog and descriptions. The 'dark' ending was well worth the wait. Overall this was a great book!