But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.
All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington's army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different. For Mr. Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange's heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.
Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that 32 hours leave readers longing for more.
©2004 Susanna Clarke; (P)2004 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, and Bloomsbury Publishing
"A smashing success....An exceptionally compelling, brilliantly creative, and historically fine-tuned piece of work." (Booklist)
"Extraordinary....Immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor, and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ravishing...superb...combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien." (Time)
"Clarke welcomes herself into an exalted company of British writers - not only, some might argue, Dickens and Austen, but also the fantasy legends Kenneth Grahame and George MacDonald - as well as contemporary writers like Susan Cooper and Philip Pullman." (The New York Times Book Review)
This is a modern faux-historical novel in the tradition of the 19th century.
The writing is lush and well-developed. The characters inhabit their universe fully. So fully, that I get the sense that the author had very little say in how they went about their business.
It brings magic, personal romance, and a sense of epic history together in a way which I haven't seen since The Lord of the Rings.
Very, very good.
Listening to this story in the audio book format with the different voices and accents for the characters made this an awesome listen. This book is really meant to be listened to. The book was full of footnotes and they were handled so well in the audio version.
As good or better story than Harry Potter.........This is a must listen!!!
I was not sure I was going to like this novel; it started out at a fairly slow pace, picked it up it's pace than slowed down again. But as you get further into this reading you begin to become asorbed into 19th Century England/Europe. The mix of historal fact, real people (many movers and shakers in England) and the way the author created a super detailed history of English magic - through history books, footnotes, poetry, hearsay, etc., makes for a wonderful escape. Invest the time needed for this book and you will be rewarded. The time invested is well worth it!
I'm not surprised by the diversity of opinions in the other reviews. To call this an adult's Harry Potter sort of sets you up to read something a lot more exciting than this. This book meanders to the point that you think you'll never get anywhere. Moreover, it lacks good character development. Mr. Norrell doesn't change at all and Jonathan Strange changes into his complete opposite by the end. By Part III, you may well be tempted to hang it up. But keep going, Part IV is much better and there's a lot more action. Overall, this was a very good book, but I wouldn't call it great and am surprised by the awards it has won.
This book is very good. An English fantasy based in the late 1700's and early 1800's where magic, magicians and faeries exist. The book has a very stuffy British flavor to it. It is an enjoyable story if you can get past a few slow parts due to describing detail and British dialog. Listen to the sample to get an idea but that is not the whole story.
The Historians of English Magic just can't believe that there is a practitioner out there. This is a comical and very entertaining novel. I recommend it for those who enjoy titles with "twists of history." Difficult to put down.
It took me some effort to get into this audibook but once I did, it paid off. This is not some tired old fantasy you've read before.
The characters were were interesting and imperfect. One of the blurbs references Jane Austin but I dont find her writing all that similar.
I look forward to listenting to more from this Author. The narrator was very good as well.
This book was full of footnotes which lead to a very interesting presentation of the story. At times it was like listening to a history book (though not as dull as the footnotes were interesting). I found this book to be rather clever and enjoed the story, though I can see some people saying it was too long winded.
I am several hours into this novel and I need a reason to continue. Everything that's happened so far, I could have written in one or maybe two short chapters. Mr. Norell is positively a bore, which is disappointing since he is supposed to be a wizard. I love long sci-fi and fantasy works, so I am not out of my element with this, but I could really use a pep talk. If no one comes to may aid, this will be the first audiobook I will not complete.
This was the first audiobook I listened to after joining Audible.com, and it is still the best. Terrific story, fantastic narrator who really makes it possible to believe you are listening to different characters. Highly recommended.
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