by Zen Cho
Series: Sorcerer Royal #1
Genres: Fantasy, Historical
Purchase*: Amazon *affiliate
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.
The rest of the story had moments of sheer delight while others aspects of the story dragged. Thanks for sharing your post!
Thanks Jay 🙂
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.
ignore this message. I am testing commentluv and you are my guinea pig.
Even with all the good, I hate annoying characters I can’t connect with. The cover is bomb!
This doesn’t sound like my kind of read, but I am glad you found some things to like about it. I hope the next one is better for you!
Absolutely agree with your review, K.! Cho can do better. I’ve read her short stories, and they were very engaging. It’s Zacharias that spoiled the broth here 🙂 Too stuffy.
It certainly seems as though the story was a bit uneven. I’m glad that overall you enjoyed it, Kimberly. But I think this is maybe not a read for me.
Still on the fence, but I absolutely LOVE that cover!!!!
Hmm, sounds like a mixed bag indeed; probably not for me. Good review!
The Bibliophile Babe
Great review, despite the struggles!
I’ve seen this around but I really had no idea what it was about. I admit it sounds super interesting, but I think it is one that I would struggle with as well.
Wonderful honest review Kim!
Melissa (Books and Things)
I think the same things that bugged you would bug me, but I love something different. This sounds like it does still fit the bill even with the uneven handling. I might have to try this one. I also love that cover!
Hmmm… Sounds like there are a lot of things to like, but I think I would struggle with some of the issues you had as well. I think this is a maybe for me.
Oh, man, the caffeinated aspects sounded so good I was beginning to skip with delight and anticipation. Too bad about the rest 🙁 A wonderful review, Kimba.
“Sorcerer of the Crown was a mixed bag of nuts for me” — often only readers who find a particular genre appealing will be interested in the book.
I will give this one another try, maybe if I make it past the first part I will like it but I got kind of bored and put it to the side.
Not too sure about this one. I’m huge on character driven stories and must have a solid connection to at least one of them. Whether I love them or hate them. LOL Such a lovely cover and the plot is intriguing though:)
I like the cover, magic and is that a dragon I see? Not sure it’s for me, so I will be checking it out further. Thanks for mentioning that, Kim.
This sounded so good but the struggle with language (choose one period) and lack of connection won’t put this at the top of my list. I love good imagery though.
I’ve seen this one around the blogosphere and I’m intrigued. I’m glad that the book picked up for you even though it was hard to get in at first. I’m curious about all the twists.
Great review, Kim!
It sounds like a good read. Thanks for sharing your review!
What a fascinating book! Love the diversity and alternate London setting in this one, even though it was a bit clunky on the language and such.
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! 🙂
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.
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!
I will wait and see how book 2 turns out
That cover is really pretty. It sounds like a good book, especially since there are plenty of twists and excitement.
It’s always a bit difficult when you have a problem with the characters and the story. It’s too bad because the idea is really intriguing!