This new release is getting a lot of hype and 99% positive reviews at Amazon and elsewhere. I got about 200 pages in and stopped reading. I recognize that Susanna Clarke has done a good job evoking the time period and describing the manners and culture of the time. The writing is undeniably witty and smart, but the book is too long and it feels self-indulgent, like Clarke couldn't bear to cut any pretty phrases. I love build-up and character development, and I have no problem with slow starts, but I need to feel that there's a purpose, a reason to keep reading, to become involved. I didn't get that with this book. There was no tension. By tension, I don't mean danger and menace (although that wouldn't hurt), but a sense of purpose -- that we'll meet people who will be affected by events (events big or small, doesn't have to be wars and betrayals and violence). Clarke has the right words and the right style, but there's nothing there. The book is going to be controversial. People (like me) who don't appreciate it are being told that "it's not the fantasy you're used to", that if a book doesn't have Hobbits and dragons, we "don't get it." Of the two main characters, Mr. Norrell is pedantic, small-minded, and distant. Strange is shallow and clueless. The secondary characters have interesting names but no personality. Maybe the book just needs editing. The characters talk way too much (they all love to hear themselves talk), and they say everything -- you don't wonder about their motives or possible hidden meanings. I guess it's supposed to be that way -- 19th century upper class English folks were probably pretty self-absorbed and pompous -- but it makes for a boring read when all the characters are like that. Has anyone else read it?