Saturday, 28 May 2016

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho is the author's first full-length novel and the first book in a trilogy. You may recall my recent reviews of Cho's novellas, which I quite enjoyed. I started listening to Sorcerer to the Crown as an audiobook shortly after reading those. The nature of audiobooks meant that it took me a while to clock up enough driving time to get through it all.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large… Less

Sorcerer to the Crown follows two characters in Regency England: the Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe, and Prunella Gentleman, an orphaned young lady who starts off the story as the ward of the mistress of a magical school for girls. The school does not concern itself with teaching girls magic, however, rather it teaches them how to suppress it so that the proper magic users of the world — i.e. men — can get on with the proper magical work. The two characters' path's cross when Zacharias is strong-armed into visiting the school to give a talk.

There was much hilarity in this book. I found myself laughing out loud several times. A lot of the humour comes from manner-punk interactions, which put me in mind of Gail Carriger's books, as did Cho's novellas. This novel is actually more similar to Carriger's work since there is magic (but not werewolves in society or anything like that), more humour, and a strongly English setting.

I enjoyed reading the interactions between Prunella and Zacharias — and the other characters, but especially those two — very much. They were both excellent characters. Prunella sewed mayhem wherever she went — other than social situations in which that would be inappropriate! — while Zacharias was an interesting character to read for other reasons. He is tightly constrained by his position, by societal expectations and by the fact that he is black and has to live with never ending microaggressions. He is always painfully aware of what is appropriate and what people might think, whereas Prunella is less concerned with that, especially in magical situations. Their conflicting interplay lead to much amusement.

I really enjoyed this book. I suspect I would've enjoyed it even more if I read it with my eyes rather than my ears, but that only really affected how long it took me to get into the story at the start. That said, it mostly worked well as an audiobook. I think I would prefer to read the sequel with my eyes, but mainly so that I could get through it faster. I cannot wait until the next book is released and am a bit disappointed that I have to wait until next year! I strongly recommend this to all fans of fantasy, humorous fantasy and manner punk. I loved it.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2015, Ace
Series: Sorcerer Royal book 1 of 3
Format read: audiobook
Source: Audible

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