Sorcerer to the Crown

By: Zen Cho
Narrated by: Jenny Sterlin
Series: Sorcerer Royal, Book 1
Length: 13 hrs and 10 mins
Categories: Romance, Historical
4.3 out of 5 stars (18 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty's lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace. Zacharias Wythe ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England's magical stocks are drying up.

When his adventure brings him in contact with a woman with immense power, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery.

©2015 Zen Cho (P)2015 Recorded Books Inc

Critic Reviews

"Full of delights and surprises. Zen Cho unpins the edges of the canvas and throws them wide." (Naomi Novik, New York Times best-selling author of Temeraire)
"Inventive, dangerous, brilliant, unsettling, and adorable, all at the same time." (Courtney Milan)

What listeners say about Sorcerer to the Crown

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Too Uneven

I had a hard time getting into Sorcerer to the Crown. For me, I just didn't like any of the characters and felt very frustrated by their decisions. In one way, Cho creates a very British milieu, with all the Regency-period foibles one would expect from the period. But the writing is also very inconsistent, often times falling back on more modern phrasing that can be jarring when set against so much antiquated dialogue. Our main character is also very modern-feeling: yet another female who makes stupid decisions constantly and has to be rescued from them all the time (instead of using her brain). That was perhaps the most modern nod in the book - yet another female protagonist who is thoroughly unlikeable but with whom everyone inexplicably falls instantly in love. Story: Zacharias already has a lot on his plate: the young sorcerer was chosen to be head of the magicians in England - despite his lineage of being a product of African slaves. There are those who are ready to depose him for the color of his skin. But adding to his troubles is a drought in the supply of magic in England, making the country perilously defenseless (another thing to blame on the 'unnatural' state of a black head sorcerer in England). When he leaves to give a speech at a witch's school, he meets Prunella - half Indian, half British, and all mischief. Things are about to get much more complicated for Zacharias. My main problem with the book is this: Zacharias is willfully clueless and inept and Prunella is devious and manipulative. So most of the book was Prunella scheming to get Zacharias to do what she wanted while also having grand plans of....marrying someone wealthy? I disliked her character and the author did not convince me she was interesting, smart, or even worth following. The same with Zacharias, who bumbles through most of the book while dealing with being oppressed. A lot of the book is the counterpoint of the oppressed: Zacharias for his African descent and Prunella for her Indian heritage along with being a female. Yet it's oppression through a modern lens that just doesn't sit right for a book that attempts to be so meticulous about the period. I can't help but wish for an Austen-type heroine who has to think her way through problems and doesn't resort to blackmail, manipulations, lies, half truths, and trickery in order to push her agenda. She's also a trope-fest: mysterious past, dead parents, world-saving ability she doesn't know about and has to discover, unique snowflake, beautiful, and everyone falls at her feet because.....why? The book feels like it doesn't know what it wants to be: serious historical fantasy with a soapbox or frilly lightweight teen urban fantasy with a message about grrrrl power. Tacked in the middle of both is a very uncomfortable romance. I listened to the Audible version and the narrator just didn't feel right for the story. Her gravely voice full of gravitas didn't bring out the age and personality of the characters in a way that felt organic or realistic.

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Lacking character motivations and skipping story

While the world was enjoyable and fun to get to know there was a distinct lack of character motivations, especially for our main heroine. The actions they take come out of nowhere and there is next to no build up for big story beats. Many times I found myself wondering if I had somehowed missed 5 hours of book somewhere in the middle. It also took the book around 4 hours to get going. As I mentioned earlier, the main heroine doesn't really motivate her actions and I hate to say it, but she gives me the feeling of being a mary sue. Not as a author insert, but as a character that can do everything and anything without any significant effort or setback. If you're interested in a slower book with a story that doesn't revolve around a world ending event in an interesting world, give this book a try.

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Hilarious + well-developed characters. Great plot!

Love love love this one. The heroine is feisty, ambitious, ruthless but also loyal and honourable. She's also hilarious. The entire story is witty and compelling. It took a while for the story to move but it was because setting up characters and relationships was done so well. This reads like an Austen novel but with magic and faeries and dragons. Also with such a global perspective. The performance is so good as well.

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Engaging, with strong characters

I simply adored the story! The narrator really brought it to life, her voices for each of the characters were unique, I could listen to her all day. The story itself was amazing, intelligent and forthright. The depiction of the racism suffered by the lead characters was open and honest, but overall there was no bitterness. And finally, there's nothing I love so well in a story as good English - the author has my admiration, I would love to read more from her.

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  • Matt Dovey
  • 08-17-16

Light, airy, yet thoroughly satisfying.

With court intrigue, a tradition of English magic and the influence of Faerie, comparisons to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell are inevitable, but despite the similarities in setting, Sorcerer to the Crown is a different sort of story. Where Strange & Norrell had setting in depth but not, perhaps, so much plot, Sorcerer to the Crown invests only as much as is necessary into its setting and instead crafts a more satisfying story. The characters are less complex and morally ambiguous, but they are a most cheering bunch, and you will rather find yourself invested in them. Events come to a most satisfactory conclusion, and it will be all but impossible to keep the grin off your face as events come to a head--and particularly in the denouement.

Engaging characters, intriguing plot, and beautiful language well suited to the audio format, and excellently read in this recording.

6 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-01-18

So promising but ultimately disappoints

The summary for this book had me hooked. The plot sounded great. (I thoroughly enjoyed Johnathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and expected a similar read...) Sorcerer to the Crown however, is slow. The dialogue is, at points, needlessly lengthy and comes across like ‘Pride and Prejudice’. No reading (or listening!) between the lines necessary here; everything is spelled out in a wordy jumble. By the end, I felt satisfied with the story, but I think it would have been much more successful if more time had been spent developing the characters rather than on elaborate dialogue.

2 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Russell
  • 02-16-16

Maybe a bit too much?

I liked the story and would recommend it to some of my friends, but I do think everything was thrown at this; racism, sexism, double dealing, politics, headstrong underdog....

The core story was good - the racist and sexist element didn't improve the story significantly, in my view.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 04-16-19

enchanting

An excellent narration of an imaginative and highly enjoyable tale. I look forward to the next book

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  • Ross H
  • 10-29-18

Intriguing but annoying

This book has concepts i love - thaumaturgy, flying clouds, dragons, faeries and thunder monsters but its such an irritating read at the same time. I felt sorry for and then annoyed with zacharias - what was he thinking putting up with that woman?

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  • Kris
  • 08-09-17

awful

not even worth reading the review. the story probably isnt the issue its how it's read

1 person found this helpful