Tuesday, March 01, 2005

A Magical Tale, Darkly

In what I can only describe as a pleasant, albeit tedious work of literature, I present before you the work of an author, who goes by the name Susanna Clarke. The title of her opus, which I might add is her first published effort, is:
"Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell"

The tale she so expertly crafts is set in Victorian England, some time before the industrial revolution cranks into life. Her prose mimics the style of that long-gone era, which some readers may find cumbersome. But harkon not, noble reader, for if you have accidentally stumbled upon any of Neal Stephenson's last four books, it should be but a breeze to your accustomed and nineteenth-century-adjusted reading faculties.

The books' protaganists are two magicians, one laconic, bittersome Mr. Norrell, a self-styled tutor of the finer arts. Jonathan Strange is Mr. Norrell's only student and of the opposite character. Mr. Norrell is an aging, introverted bachelor, magically-cautious, and none too happy to share the wealth of the magical knowledge in his unparalleled collection of magicians texts.

Mr. Strange is a devoted husband, and is the counterpart of his mentor. He's more daring in what magic he will summon, and spells he will perform. He wishes to learn more, but his mentor has purchased every significant text and is unwilling to share their knowledge.

Aside from their diverging personalities, they disagree over the correct school of thought for proper English magic. Mr. Norrell despises any and all magic related to John Unkglass, who was known as the Raven King. Mr. Strange disagrees with his mentors assesments, and attempts to learn and practice the magic anyway.

One thing I felt about this book is that the storyline progresses to slowly, and the resolution doesn't properly resolve the issues at hand; it's almost as though Susanna is counting on the sequels to move the story foward into other dimensions.

Overall 3 out of 5 Stars.

No comments: