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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell [Kindle Edition]

Susanna Clarke
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,074 customer reviews)

Digital List Price: $8.99 What's this?
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Book Description

The international bestseller, reissued with a striking new illustrated cover. Part of The Bloomsbury Phantastic series - three books tracing the tradition of fantasy from Edgar Allan Poe to Neil Gaiman and Susanna Clarke. Susanna Clarke’s novel is an epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the two magicians who emerge to change its history. In the year 1806, in the midst of the Napoleonic Wars, most people believe magic to have long since disappeared from England -- until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers and becomes a celebrity overnight. Another practising magician emerges: the young and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell’s pupil and the two join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic and soon he risks sacrificing not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything else he holds dear.

Editorial Reviews Review

It's 1808 and that Corsican upstart Napoleon is battering the English army and navy. Enter Mr. Norrell, a fusty but ambitious scholar from the Yorkshire countryside and the first practical magician in hundreds of years. What better way to demonstrate his revival of British magic than to change the course of the Napoleonic wars? Susanna Clarke's ingenious first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, has the cleverness and lightness of touch of the Harry Potter series, but is less a fairy tale of good versus evil than a fantastic comedy of manners, complete with elaborate false footnotes, occasional period spellings, and a dense, lively mythology teeming beneath the narrative. Mr. Norrell moves to London to establish his influence in government circles, devising such powerful illusions as an 11-day blockade of French ports by English ships fabricated from rainwater. But however skillful his magic, his vanity provides an Achilles heel, and the differing ambitions of his more glamorous apprentice, Jonathan Strange, threaten to topple all that Mr. Norrell has achieved. A sparkling debut from Susanna Clarke--and it's not all fairy dust. --Regina Marler

From Publishers Weekly

The drawing room social comedies of early 19th-century Britain are infused with the powerful forces of English folklore and fantasy in this extraordinary novel of two magicians who attempt to restore English magic in the age of Napoleon. In Clarke's world, gentlemen scholars pore over the magical history of England, which is dominated by the Raven King, a human who mastered magic from the lands of faerie. The study is purely theoretical until Mr. Norrell, a reclusive, mistrustful bookworm, reveals that he is capable of producing magic and becomes the toast of London society, while an impetuous young aristocrat named Jonathan Strange tumbles into the practice, too, and finds himself quickly mastering it. Though irritated by the reticent Norrell, Strange becomes the magician's first pupil, and the British government is soon using their skills. Mr. Strange serves under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars (in a series of wonderful historical scenes), but afterward the younger magician finds himself unable to accept Norrell's restrictive views of magic's proper place and sets out to create a new age of magic by himself. Clarke manages to portray magic as both a believably complex and tedious labor, and an eerie world of signs and wonders where every object may have secret meaning. London politics and talking stones are portrayed with equal realism and seem indisputably part of the same England, as signs indicate that the Raven King may return. The chock-full, old-fashioned narrative (supplemented with deft footnotes to fill in the ignorant reader on incidents in magical history) may seem a bit stiff and mannered at first, but immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3845 KB
  • Print Length: 866 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1582346038
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (June 5, 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,248 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
555 of 569 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clearing up misconceptions November 2, 2004
By Antaeus
After reading the negative reviews of this book, I thought it would be helpful to clear up some misconceptions and set out a quick test of whether a reader is likely to enjoy "Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell".

Here's my take: it's NOT Harry Potter. If you want a quick-paced book, with lots of action and easy-to-read prose, THIS IS NOT YOUR BOOK. Here's the test: If, by the end of the first chapter, you have not laughed out loud or even chuckled, YOU WILL PROBABLY NOT LIKE THIS BOOK. And that's perfectly OK - I hope I've saved you from buying it (nothing's worse, IMHO, than buying a book you end up hating).

I personally love this book - I'd easily rate it as one of the best books I've read in years. But I also love Jane Austen, Mervyn Peake and Lord Dunsany. To me, this book is both an homage to and a witty send-up of 19th century literature. But you have to like that kind of literature and "get" the jokes that the author is making (both in the style of the prose as well as the play on historical events) to really enjoy this book.

I want to make it clear that I think it's fine if people hate this book. However, I am troubled by comments that suggest it's a bad book. That's not true - it's simply a matter of preferences. For example, I happen to detest Dickens and like comic books. But I don't think that Dickens is an awful writer and comic book writers are superior to him - Dickens just isn't my style. So I'd emphasize that, in my opinion, Susanna Clarke is a phenomenal writer. But the pleasure of this book lies as much (if not more) in the way it's written as the events that take place - so if you're not interested in prose for its own sake, it'll be hard going.
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1,694 of 1,794 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure throughout but patience required September 16, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I'm giving Jonathan Strange a 5 for the simply reason that I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through, but I'd warn all readers to be more wary than usual of reviews (including this one). More than many books, this one I think will be a matter of true personal taste and experience will be your only truly accurate guide.

To begin with, Strange is often referred to as a "fantasy" novel, an "adult" Harry Potter (ignoring Potter's self-obvious claim to millions of "adult" readers). If you're expecting fantasy in the form of Harry Potter magic (though done by bigger people employing bigger words) or Lord of the Rings-like quests and elves, be advised neither is here. Fantastical might be a better genre-word here than "fantasy". There is certainly magic here, both human and faerie (very different forms), but when one of the major storylines is how magic has gradually disappeared from England and when one of the major characters has as his purpose the destruction (not Black Tower hordes of evil monsters destruction but economic, social, or legal destruction) of those who would become magician, as you might imagine there isn't a lot of magic going on, at least not for the first few hundred pages. Those looking for a lot of wand-waving or fireball-flinging would best look elsewhere.

One of the signs of the book's maturity is that one can't really generalize too much about the magic in it. Magic is almost invisible in the beginning and near-constant toward the end. It is scholarly, bookish and tedious and also vigorous, physical and exciting. It is human and Faerie and a melding of the two. It is all-powerful (Spain complains about the rearrangement of several of their country's geographic landmarks) and ineffective (you can see visions in water but they seldom are helpful).
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471 of 506 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quite the book. September 3, 2004
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is hard to describe. In terms of genre, it is both fantasy and well-researched historical fiction, which makes it a rather rare bird. The writing style falls somewhere between Austen and Gaiman and Dickens. The plot is somewhat rambling and disjoint, forsaking the standard quest narratives; in some ways it is a fantastic history of England, in some ways a tale of rescue. If it is anything, it is the story of the relationship between the two title characters, but one of them is not even introduced for two hundred pages.

. Unlike most of the better modern fantasy, this book is not a page-turner, and I mean that as a compliment; rather, it is a book to savor. Not that the plot isn't engaging - it is - but I frequently found myself comparing how many pages I'd read to how many I had left, deciding that I was burning through the book too quickly, and setting it down while I turned the passages I'd just read over in my head.

As befits a character-driven fantasy, almost all the characters are likeable, or at least understandable; even when they take larger-than-life action, they do so for incredibly human reasons. There are also a number of historical-character cameos, all of them well-drawn and believable..

I do not agree with Mr. Gaiman's statement that this is "the finest English novel of the fantasticke to appear in the past 70 years." Tolkien is better; his work has an epic grandeur that this book lacks, perhaps because Susanna Clarke so realistically and concretely evokes the precise historical era at which she aims : the imagination has a somewhat wider canvas to paint on when reading Tolkien or similar high fantasy, with more blank space to be filled in by the reader.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars A fantasy fan who felt indifferent when she finished reading...
This was more of a case of “It didn’t appeal to me” than “It wasn't written well." The premise captured my interest: friendly-turned-rival magicians dealing with politics, war,... Read more
Published 10 days ago by ViolettePen
5.0 out of 5 stars Magic in 19th Century England
A fun tale told in the Dickensian style about the return of magic to England after a long absence. In this world, magic has a long history dating back at least to the mysterious... Read more
Published 11 days ago by cbittler
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring and odd
I purchased this after reading the sample. It seemed like it was just on the verge of getting interesting when the sample ended. I was wrong. Read more
Published 13 days ago by CLP
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Fantasy
This may be one of my new favorite books. The writing is brilliant, the characters amazing, and the plot has a Dickensian sense of scale without ever feeling too bloated. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Doug Riechel
5.0 out of 5 stars I love this book
I love the world that Susanna Clarke has created, the care that she puts into detailing it, and the reverence that she has for her characters. On top of that, it is a great story. Read more
Published 25 days ago by Jennifer
5.0 out of 5 stars Best book ever
866 pages wasn't long enought. I did not want this book to end. I look forward to seeing more from this author!
Published 1 month ago by Caz
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story
I first read this book several years ago. When it became available on Kindle, I added it to my digital library and gave my paper copy to a friend. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Molly Sullivan
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't finish, because I don't care
I got 1/3 - 1/2 through this book and then I put it down and haven't picked it up in 6 months. I almost never stop reading a fiction book. Read more
Published 1 month ago by L. Harnett
5.0 out of 5 stars A delightful and entertaining story
I really enjoyed reading this book. Though massive in size, it never felt long or tedious. It was a highly original blend of historical fiction and fantasy. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Lindsay Burkholder
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic creation
How can some one actually imagine all of this? I can only think they did it with magic :) Had to have had some supernatural help. Read more
Published 2 months ago by infrequent
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Topic From this Discussion
Raven King
I don't understand this question. I thought it was made clear throughout the book who John Uskglass/The Raven King was. The Gentleman With Thistle-Down Hair was NOT John Uskglass.Stephen Black didn't take his place either. Stephen killed TGWTDH and so inherited TGWTDH's kingdom, Lost Hope.

John... Read more
Feb 28, 2011 by Dali Flores |  See all 4 posts
The finest book written in many years
I loved this book more than any book I've read in a long, long time. I simply entered the author's world on the first page and remained there until I finished the novel. It's wonderful. I can't enough good things about it.
Aug 22, 2007 by Totally Anonymous |  See all 7 posts
Introduction missing?
I would like to know about this as well as I'd love to read the introduction which is currently missing in the Kindle version.
Mar 3, 2012 by Mikhail Popov |  See all 2 posts
Can You Skip the Footnotes?
If you skip the footnotes, you will be missing an extraordinary part of the book...
Dec 18, 2010 by NuevoMexico |  See all 8 posts
This Book IS BAD
I couldn't disagree more with Vincent's "Assessment". This is one of the best books I've read in many years. In fact I've just re-read the novel and enjoyed it just as much. This is quality writing, not a dumb beach read!
Jul 15, 2006 by Susan Taylor |  See all 43 posts
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