Genre: Fiction, Historical Fantasy
Series: A Sorcerer Royal Novel, book 1
Recommend to Others?: Yes
(reprint edition cover © July 12, 2016)
England’s magic is waning.
Something must be done to stem the tide of unrest that is developing with each passing day between thaumaturges and the English government. Which leaves Zacharias Wythe, the current Sorcerer Royal, in a predicament. Though holding one of the highest offices in the country, Zacharias often faces opposition and racial discrimination, in part, due to the unusual circumstances that lead to his ascension to his current position.
The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers has been trying to keep quiet about England’s decline in magic, but some secrets are about to be revealed. Zacharias sees that peace must be maintained England’s magic restored before its too late or something far worse happens. The answer to his problems he believes might be found in Fairyland and, maybe, in the unusually gifted Prunella Gentleman.
Zacharias Wythe is a protagonist unlike any other I have seen in YA literature. He’s a freed slave brought up in the magical arts by the former Sorcerer Royal and his benefactor, Sir Stephen Wythe. There is a mystery lurking behind how Zacharias came to be the new Sorcerer Royal, especially one without a familiar, that plagues both himself and the novel. He is very cordial and diplomatic to everyone despite the negatively thrown at him on a daily basis. He is a dutiful young man taking on the monumental task of somehow restoring England’s magic before conflict reaches its peak at home and abroad. When he meets Prunella Gentleman (the other protagonist), he adds to his plate magical reform that would propose gender equality in a society that deems women unfit and too frail to practice magic beyond domestic use. As you progress through the story, you cannot help but admire Zacharias’ character and how he handles each situation that arises.
Prunella’s character was a hit and miss for me. She is an intelligent, pragmatic, gifted young woman who only wants a better life for herself. Though she can be incredibly stubborn at times, I like what she adds to the story.
The story itself I thought was well crafted and (mostly) new. I was interested the whole time, wanting to know how the story would play out. However, the real action did not seem to occur until about halfway through. Not that few interesting things were not happening until then but the plot dragged its feet during that time, leaving you to wonder when something major was going to happen.
It took me some time to get used to the writing being in very formal old English. But once you get passed that the language really immerses you further into the story and the setting. Additionally, the term “thaumaturge” threw me off at first because I had never seen this word used synonymous with “magician.” And even after reading it several times and hearing how it is pronounced, the word still gives me pause and I end up reading it differently in my head.
By the way the story ended, I am looking forward to what happens in the next book and hope that it is released within the next year or so. This book was definitely worth reading and I would recommend it to others who want to read a YA novel that is a little different.