by Zen Cho
Series: Sorcerer Royal #1
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
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…
Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho lured me with its promise of an alternate London, magic and Fae. Politics, prejudice and magic are central themes in this fantasy set against an alternate Regency England. Despite some issues, Sorcerer to the Crown with its dry humor and colorful character ended up making me smile.
- Zacharias is the current Sorcerer to the Crown at a time when the practice of thaumaturge was once a popular occupation for London’s elite. These men were held in high esteem, but magic is drying up, and many men of influence would like nothing better than to point blame at Zacharias, a former slave who was adopted by Sir Stephen, the former Sorcerer. Cho created tension and established the world using wonderful imagery and beautiful pose.
- Zacharias inherited the position and if it were not for the specter of Sir Stephen, he might very well have declined the position in favor of researching the decline in magic. Threats to his life and a desire to see him removed from the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers have him agreeing to give a speech at Mrs. Daubeney’s School for Gentle Witches. He also intends to investigate the boarders of Fairyland and test some theories in an effort restore magic. On his journey his opinions and teaches are tested.
- I could have read an entire book about Mrs. Daubeney’s School for Gentle Witches. Much like the original London, this alternative London is ruled by men, who think woman are too weak to handle magic. This school is designed to help these young women control their magic with some very interesting methods. The fighting, spell casting and the overly dramatic mistress had me giggling.
- Prunella Gentlemen, was taken in by Mrs. Daubeney when her father died, and she is quite talented, headstrong, curious and naturally witty. She immediately commanded the story with her presence. She was delightful and played well against Zacharias reserved personality.
- The Regency era is very similar to the world we are familiar with from its hierarchy and treatment of the social classes. Cho has weaved in supernatural elements, creatures and magic. Familiars, vampires, and the Fae added interest. Fairyland was another place I became swept up in. We get Sir Stephen’s story and this ended up being a very interested thread.
- There is a subtle humor, a comedy of sorts to the story and I enjoyed the dry humor and often found myself laughing aloud.
- I loved the diversity particularly that the main characters are of color and one in a respected position of power during the Regency Era.
- Cho gave us a romance that was sweet and delivered its own message. This thread was predictable but did not overshadow the main plot.
- The story had twists and turns that kept me from setting it aside. The climatic ending even managed to surprise. The story closed with a satisfying ending while leaving room for additional tales.
- I struggled with the story in the beginning, but things picked up once Zacharias left London. The rest of the story had moments of sheer delight while others aspects of the story dragged. Imagery and the relationship that develops between characters were aspects I enjoyed. I found the pacing uneven, never allowing me to completely become lost in the story.
- The writing combines period language and modern terms that threw me out of the story and did not allow me to settle in.
- I struggled with the characters. I never warmed up to Zacharias and struggled to understand the man. I have already said I found Prunella witty and engaging but she equally annoyed me. She does not disclosing pertinent information and her tendency to switch between sharp and intelligent to downright stupid left me frustrated.
- Themes dealing with prejudice, social class and the limitations of women would have made more of an impact if the author allowed the reader to draw their own conclusions but repetitive comments seemed to shout, “See here look at this.”
Sorcerer of the Crown was a mixed bag of nuts for me. Cho is talented and I will be curious to see what the next book brings. I recommend reading other reviews before deciding if Sorcerer of the Crown is for you.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges:
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