Great book. There are flaws: I felt the narrator was ill-suited to the story's world, perhaps the genre in general - his tone was too plain and I didn't like the accents he gave several of the characters. I didn't like the way the main character stuttered, but it turned out to be part of the text itself, and purposely done.
In fact, this book turned out to be masterfully crafted. Every word in the story is deliberate, and if you keep with it through the dubious twists and developments, you'll see the grander scheme of the plot take shape. Cazaril's character does start as an extremely non-heroic protagonist, but his unimpressiveness serves well to contrast the growth he undergoes through the story.
At the end of the book, I was not disappointed. The quality of the story pulled me through the shortcomings of the narration so that I hardly noticed it. I recommend it, and I intend to read the next one.
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.
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