Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

September 7th, 2015 kimbacaffeinate Review 29 Comments

7th Sep
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Sorcerer to the Crown
by Zen Cho
Series: Sorcerer Royal #1
Published by: Penguin
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Source: Publisher
Purchase: Amazon
Goodreads
Rating: One StarOne StarOne Star

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.

Caffeinated Aspects:

  • 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.

Decaffeinated Aspects:

  • 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.

About Zen Cho

Zen Cho

Zen Cho was born and raised in Malaysia. She is the author of Crawford Award-winning short story collection Spirits Abroad, and editor of anthology Cyberpunk: Malaysia, both published by Buku Fixi. She has also been nominated for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Pushcart Prize, and honour-listed for the Carl Brandon Society Awards, for her short fiction. Her debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, is the first in a historical fantasy trilogy published by Ace/Roc Books (US) and Pan Macmillan (UK). She lives in London with her partner and practises law in her copious free time.

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About Kimberly
Kimberly is a coffee loving book addict who reads and listens to fictional stories in all genres. She's a self-professed Whovian, as well as a Supernatural, and Sherlock Holmes junkie, She enjoys sharing books, tips, recipes and hosting the Sunday Post. The coffee is always on and she is ready to chat... Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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29 Responses to “Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho”

  1. Cyn

    Glad to see you still enjoyed this despite a few flaws. I didn’t realize this book has faes (I’m really bad with fae books :p) but the dry humor and colorful character sounds like my kind of thing! Thanks for the very informative review!
    Cyn recently posted…Review: The Rogue You Know by Shana GalenMy Profile

  2. Maja (The Nocturnal Library)

    A mixed bag for sure. I don’t know that it would be for me at the moment, since I lack brainpower for more demanding reads. At some point, maybe, when I’m on one of my fantasy reading binges. Also, I’m scared of the fae, so there’s that.
    Maja (The Nocturnal Library) recently posted…LGBT Monday: Sloe RideMy Profile

  3. Maureen Beatrice

    I really admire the way you reviewed this book. You obviously struggled with this book, but you were still able to write a review that made me interested in this book. Really impressive. 😉
    This book sounds fun to me, I don’t like that cover though. But I try to never judge a book by its cover! 🙂
    Maureen Beatrice recently posted…Blog Tour ‘Striking Out’ by Scarlet BennettMy Profile

  4. Kristin

    Now I’m curious what everyone else that picked up this popular book thinks about it. This was such a popular pick months ago I kind of avoided it because of that 🙁 I thank you tons for taking one for the team – I would have DNF’d it right away.

  5. Joy

    The rest of the story had moments of sheer delight while others aspects of the story dragged. Thanks for sharing your post!