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Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell

September 11, 2008

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a book by Susanna Clarke about magic returning to England after hundreds of years of decline and disuse. If you want to compare it to Harry Potter those are the links magic and England and that’s it. I’m a big fan of Harry Potter so I wanted to give Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell a shot. The book takes place during the 19th century when England is engaged in the Napoleonic Wars. So it takes place in an alternate past with a ton of real life people who were involved in the goings on back then. When I first started it I thought it was going to be a Harry Potter thrill ride with several things piling up to a crazy full throttle ending. That’s totally NOT how Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell goes down.  Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is about two magicians. Mr. Norrell is the first magician who takes Strange under his belt and teaches him a limited amount of magic keeping some of it secret for himself, but Strange quickly surpasses Norrell’s abilities and begins to search for the Raven King, John Uskglass, the greatest English magician ever. That’s basically the main plot, but there’s like a million little subplots and even some major subplots that all weave together in the end. The book is mainly all about character study and explaining what the numerous characters are up to and what their motivations are and such. It has tons of foot notes to go along with it. People say it’s like Jane Austin. I”ve never read Jane Austin so I wasn’t expecting the slow plot and character study. I was on the verge to giving it up several times, but I’m really glad I stuck it out because once I got into the characters, and how they were interacting with each other I was all into it. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel is super awesome and one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. If you can handle a one thousand plus page book with a really slow start, and very interesting characters then you should definitely check out Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell.

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