I’ve been on a Jane Austen kick lately — not just reading Austen (though I have, since one of my friends started a Jane Austen book club), but reading biographies and things about that era. The one thing her books are missing is magic, and I’ve recently discovered a series that takes care of that. Well, with books like you might imagine Jane Austen might have written if she’d been writing fantasy, not those mash-ups like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
The first book in the series is Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho. A young man has recently taken the role of Royal Sorcerer after the death of the previous one, his mentor, and he’s got a number of crises on his hands. For one thing, the other sorcerers aren’t too keen on him, given that he’s an African former slave bought, freed, and adopted by his mentor, and they’re just looking for an excuse to strip him of his office. For another thing, amounts of magic in England have slowed to a trickle, and if he can’t figure out and resolve the problem, that will give his enemies ammunition against him. And then there are the magical assassination attempts. Things get even crazier when he goes to speak at a girls’ school and realizes that the conventional wisdom about women being incapable of handling magic is all wrong. The school is supposed to be teaching girls how to suppress their magic so it won’t harm them, but there are some powerful magicians there — especially one girl who’s sort of a teacher, sort of household staff, the orphaned daughter of a friend of the headmistress. She’s powerful enough that she has to be taught. But insisting on teaching women isn’t going to make him any more popular. Meanwhile, she’s just starting to uncover her own startling legacy and doesn’t have a lot of interest in boring lessons. She does, however, want to find a husband who can support her endeavors.
This is such a fun book that I’d recommend to fans of Jane Austen or those who loved Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It’s written in a very Austen-like style. The characters fairly jump off the page. The dialogue is witty and vivid and at times is laugh-out-loud funny. There’s action, magical battles, drawing room intrigue, and a dash of romance. The second book in the series was in my goody bag at the Nebulas Conference, so I found the first book, and I’m about to break my rule about not reading a series back-to-back since this is exactly the sort of thing I’m in the mood for.
In other news, I’ll be taking a break from blogging next week because I’m volunteering for Vacation Bible School, and that will eat up my mornings. See you the week after that!