Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

Posted On 9 September 2015

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Just finished reading Sorcerer to the Crown which I thoroughly enjoyed.  This is a great combination of Regency period manners and fantasy written in a very easy to read and accessible style.

My first thoughts upon starting this read were of a sort of mash up of Pride and Prejudice and Strange and Norell, but, let me be quite plain, this is not written in either the style of Austen or Clarke and Cho is in no way trying to mimic either of those authors. So, if your taste doesn’t run to old fashioned language and bonnets or lengthy footnotes and extensive descriptions of Regency England but you would like to read a period drama that brings a bit of intrigue and a touch of romance, takes a fairly bald look at a few of the restrictions and prejudices of the time and then places the society into chaos then look no further.  There is magic, there are attempted assassinations, there are talking familiars, trips into the land of the fae and flights of fancy atop the clouds.  And more.

Characters.  Well, we have Zacharias,  A freed slave who has unwittingly risen to the position of Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers.  To say this is a source of displeasure to some of the eminent magicians within that Society would most definitely be an understatement.  There are whispers and mumblings and things don’t look too good for Zacharias.  On top of this the magic seems to be in decline.  The border to the land of fairy is shrinking and the flow of magic in between the two worlds seems to be considerably reduced.  Zacharias needs to take measures to restore the balance.  We also have Prunella Gentleman, a wonderful name for a woman of mixed race who has also been at the receiving end of prejudice.  Prunella is an orphan, even untrained she seems capable of great magical displays.  She’s been brought up in the care of a woman who runs a boarding school for young ladies (of magic).  This of course brings us to the other restrictions of the time.  Women couldn’t possibly carry out magic – they’re far too fragile and delicate to attempt such a feat, in fact it appears to be more acceptable that they perform almost death like rituals to remove their magical ability rather than use their ability (and quite potentially be as good if not better than the men of the time).

In a strange twist Prunella goes off to London under the care and tutelage of Zacharias – he’s going to help her come ‘out’ into society, indeed he’s going to help her to catch a husband.  Because, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of immense magical ability must be in want of a wealthy husband!  Is it not?

I can’t really give too much of the plot away but I can say that the story moves forward at a great pace with never any opportunity for a dull moment.

What did I really like about this.  I enjoy reading stories set in a different period, particularly Regency. I like that this story turns the period onto it’s head a little bit.  We’re damn well looking at the inadequacies of the time and that’s that!  I enjoyed that we have such unusual circumstances such as Zacharias, freed from being a slave, now holding the most prestigious and sought after role in the country with great magical power at his fingertips.  And we have Prunella, a half caste woman with an extraordinary ability to weave magic who is completely capable of walking into any situation and handling herself admirably and is about to revolutionise the role of women in the magical field.  On top of that, I’m always happy to meet the inhabitants of fairyland and see what antics they’re getting up to – and, let’s face it we have a number of wonderful creatures who play a role. And, as if you needed any more incentive there is plenty of witty dialogue and moments of exasperation between the two main characters which is very amusing to read.

In terms of criticisms – nothing major to be honest – I think there was an element of the solution to Prunella’s problems being glaringly obvious – but that isn’t really an issue that detracted at all and it was actually quite enjoyable working up to the eventual outcome.

This is a quirky kind of read.  I found it quick and fun and I will definitely continue with the next in series.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher through Netgalley for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

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11 Responses to “Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho”

  1. Tammy

    Glad you loved it! I have a copy and I’m going to try to fit it in. I also love that there are “inhabitants of fairyland” which I hadn’t realized. Can’t wait!

    • lynnsbooks

      It’s a very enjoyable read, quirky, fun and I loved the little jaunt into the land of the fae. I need a good fairyland fix I think.
      Lynn 😀

  2. Lisa (@TenaciousReader)

    Yep, I definitely found this to be an enjoyable different kind of read. What ever short comings it had were minor and didn’t impact my enjoyment, glad you liked it!

    • lynnsbooks

      It was really fun and quick to read. I didn’t know what to expect so it took me quite by surprise.
      Lynn 😀

  3. jessicabookworm

    I like the sound of this 🙂

    • lynnsbooks

      I actually think this book would be perfect for you Jessica.
      Lynn 😀

  4. Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    Really enjoyed this book. Loved Prunella, she just really stole the show 🙂

    My review of this one is coming up too, I think we loved this for a lot of similar reasons, yay!

    • lynnsbooks

      Prunella was so funny and I loved the way she wasn’t intimidated by anybody at all!
      Lynn 😀

  5. Danya @ Fine Print

    Ahh your review makes me so excited to read this one, Lynn! Prunella sounds like such a great character – and you made me laugh out loud with your “a single woman in possession of…” line. Can’t wait to see what I think of this one!

    • lynnsbooks

      I think this one is perfect for both you and I to be honest. It’s fun, it’s not really trying to be historically accurate or get the speech and descriptions spot on but it’s a really good engaging read.
      Lynn 😀

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