Historical-Fiction, Fantasy, Magic
eARC provided by publisher via Netgalley
My Rating 4.5 Stars
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.
But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…
MY THOUGHTS I am so glad that this book didn’t disappoint! I’ve been waiting to read this for months and finally got the chance to read it. It’s a great take on magic in general, but the complexities of it’s outline is also what makes it stand out. As I’m no fan of politics, which this book has lots of, I still found it hard to put down. The Regency London setting made it a very interesting read and I can’t wait to read the next book.
Let’s start with Zacharias. I loved his character from the very first page. Not only is he of color, but he presented, at a young age, just how powerful a sorcerer he is. His mentor, Sir Stephen, had faith in his ability to be great from boyhood. Taking him in front of the council, only to be mocked, proved to be the best and worst of an already difficult time. Zacharias, being a freed slave boy, had to show what he was capable of. Years later, his mentor has passed, leaving Zach in a high position as his successor – Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers. Now, you can already see how this plays out. He’s doubted, frowned upon, accused of killing Sir Stephen, and even has someone trying to kill him. He goes about with his head held high, and doesn’t back down from his position. Instead, he is all about changing Britain’s future. Britain’s magic is waning, and he has to go to the border of Fairyland to figure out why. On his way, he has to visit a girls’ school to give a speech. This is a school to which the girls are learning how to “not practice” magic, even though it’s already a part of them. In this school, he meets a young woman named Prunella. She is more powerful than he thought any woman to be in having magical abilities.
Prunella is a very strong character. Her situation is strenuous. Being left at the girls’ school in the care of Mrs. Daubeney, after her father dies, has proved to reach it’s end. She’s of age now and after some of the parents start complaining about her misbehavior in front of their daughters, she is made to be scarce. As in, be a servant. A nobody. This just will not do for Prunella. She devises a plan to accompany Zach back to London, so that he can teach her magic. Of course, this plan doesn’t reveal to Zach what her true intentions are. She is in possession of something very powerful that could change her life forever. I love her sharpness and mentality. She and Zach proved to be a force together. With women not permitted to practice magic, those two have an uphill battle ahead.
I wasn’t expecting all of the sexism, racism, and just plain old hostility. Some of this made me shake my head and keep going. Because, as much as I love a good story, reading about such hateful times, still gets to me. This book blends the historical and magic genres brilliantly. The history of the Revolutionary Wars with Napoleon Bonaparte blended in quite nicely. With this being the Regency Era, the fashions and society are portrayed with just enough truth to make this fiction story stand out right. As I said before, I am no fan of politics. It only leads to arguments, and besides – politicians are all liars. They all have a hidden agenda, trying to beat out the next man to be the best man. It’s no different here, with magic politics. They all want Zacharias out, and doesn’t think he’s “fit” to be the Sorcerer Royal. Instead of women’s right to vote, we have women’s right to practice magic. Same thing, different story. If you are looking for a great historical fantasy to add to your shelf, then this is definitely the book you need. You will be wanting the sequel as soon as you’re done. Highly Recommended!