Home Literature Stories Movies Games Comics Blogs News Discussion Forum Art Gallery
  Science Fiction and Fantasy News
Esslemont's Stonewielder Prologue and Cover (07-26)
Deals and Deliveries (9!!!) (09-12)
Iron Man: Femmes Fatales by Robert Greenberger (09-12)
Indiana Jones and the Army of the Dead by Steve Pe (09-12)

Official sffworld Reviews
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber (05-29 - Book)
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent (05-25 - Book)
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig (05-21 - Book)
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith (05-17 - Book)


Author

Site Index

Book Info    Bookmark and Share

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel by Susanna Clarke

  (29 ratings)

A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z

Rating (29 ratings)
Rate this book
(5 best - 1 worst)
 
Book Information  
AuthorSusanna Clarke
TitleJonathan Strange & Mr Norrel
Series
Volume0
Year2004
GenreFantasy
 
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
 
Submitted by onions 
(Mar 28, 2005)

In this tale of alternate history, magic has just about died out in nineteenth Century England. Then two real magicians meet. As they labour together to revive English Magic, meeting and aiding in the process Wellington, George III, Lord Byron and Sir Walter Pole, they are continually beset by professional jealousy, personal tragedy and a a very annoying evil Fairy.
Susanna Clarke's style has been rightly compared to Jane Austen and Dickens. Part of the charm is her arch Victorian narrator style (complete with oldfashioned spelling and endless footnotes) that contrasts wildly in its comfortable reasonableness with the gothic, mystic and Arthurian elements of her tale. Think Austen meets Byron meets Sir Walter Scott. This 800-page humdinger swings constantly between a conversational piece, pastiche, mystic lyricism, gothic setting and adventure.
Unfortunately, it takes quite some time to get started. The first part of three lets us meet Mr. Norrell, an emotional miser with the soul of a banker. He is impossible to like, but we spend 200 pages with him. In the second part, we meet suave and clever Jonathan Strange who is meant to be the Likeable Hero. He succeeds, chiefly by virtue of not being Norrell. We follow him through hundred pages of Napoleonic war adventures. Part three makes all of this worth it through in an astonishing burst of imagination and masterful storytelling.
Throughout, the somewhat turgid pacing is saved by a host of interesting inventions and weird side characters: a man who is a book, the raven king, Fairy landscapes, mini-treatises on magic, and a very original evil fairy, to name just a few. For those, Clark draws on old English fairy tales and beliefs.
Clarke's great strength are the pointed dialogue and situational comedy. Often something that is very unfunny for the characters, will make the reader laugh because of it's appropriateness.
Modern readers will on the other hand will miss a certain depth of character. It is sad that that inspite of madness, mortal fear, and grief all being described, the strongest emotion in the whole book is Norrell's jealousy of Strange. It is also a very male book. The female characters are all stereotypes: The resourceful ingenue, the witty wife, the invalid. Even Strange does not have much to make him three-dimensional, his actions when trying to safe his wife and turning mad are simply actions. The emotions do not come through.




Sponsor ads

 

Latest

The Terry Pratchett Anywhere But Here, Anywhen But Now First Novel Prize!
05-31 - News
Stephen King's Joyland UK Promotion
05-30 - News
UK Publisher of Stephen King’s New Novel Unusual Promotion
05-30 - News
Big Time, The by Fritz Leiber
05-29 - Book Review
Rogue Clone by Steven L. Kent
05-25 - Book Review
The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
05-21 - Book Review
The Wisdom of the Shire by Noble Smith
05-17 - Book Review

05-10 - News
The Tyrant's Law by Daniel Abraham
05-04 - Book Review
Galaxy's Edge 1 by Mike Resnick
04-28 - Book Review
Poison by Sarah Pinborough
04-21 - Book Review
Bullington, Beukes and Bacigalupi event
04-19 - News
The City by Stella Gemmell
04-17 - Book Review
Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan
04-15 - Book Review
Tarnished Knight by Jack Campbell
04-09 - Book Review
Frank Hampson: Tomorrow Revisited by Alastair Crompton
04-07 - Book Review
The Forever Knight by John Marco
04-01 - Book Review
Book of Sith - Secrets from the Dark Side by Daniel Wallace
03-31 - Book Review
NOS4R2 by Joe Hill
03-25 - Book Review
Fade to Black by Francis Knight
03-13 - Book Review
The Clone Republic by Steven L. Kent
03-12 - Book Review
The Burn Zone by James K. Decker
03-06 - Book Review
A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz
03-04 - Book Review
Blood's Pride by Evie Manieri
02-28 - Book Review
Excerpt: River of Stars by Guy Gavriel Kay
02-27 - Article
Tales of Majipoor by Robert Silverberg
02-24 - Book Review
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennett
02-20 - Book Review
Evie Manieri Guest Post
02-19 - Article
The Grim Company by Luke Scull
02-17 - Book Review
Red Planet by Robert A. Heinlein
02-11 - Book Review

New Forum Posts




About - Advertising - Contact us - RSS - For Authors & Publishers - Contribute / Submit - Privacy Policy - Community Login
Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use. The contents of this webpage are copyright © 1997-2011 sffworld.com. All Rights Reserved.