rating: 4 of 5 stars
I listened to this book, rather than read it. What this means is that I couldn’t read the book fast or slower, just devote more time to listening to it. The reader, Simon Prebble, has a British accent that fits the tone of the book beautifully.
This book takes a long time to build up the setting. So long, in fact, that I really only picked up my Zune (my current audio player) when I had to clean and be a chauffeur, rather than thinking of something to clean so I could listen to it.
Norrell is a magician who actually practices magic, rather than just studying its history. In an attempt to show that he actually can do magic, rather than do something a bit simple he summons a fairy to raise a dead girl, and in the process offends the fairy. This starts us off on the problem, but in fact this doesn’t happen until the first third. And only after that do we meet the other main characters, such as Strange and Stephen, a black butler who the fairy enchants along with the girl.
Once these pieces have been ponderously, though deliciously, put in place, the book moves along quite well. The ending is for the most part satisfying, but I found the resolution of one thread so bitter in its sweetness that I was left with a bad aftertaste.
The book is rich, but if you’re looking for Regency era Lord of the Rings, you will probably be disappointed.