English magicians were once the wonder of the known world, with fairy servants at their beck and call; they could command winds, mountains, and woods. But by the early 1800s they have long since lost the ability to perform magic. They can only write long, dull papers about it, while fairy servants are nothing but a fading memory.
But at Hurtfew Abbey in Yorkshire, the rich, reclusive Mr. Norrell has assembled a wonderful library of lost and forgotten books from England's magical past and regained some of the powers of England's magicians. He goes to London and raises a beautiful young woman from the dead. Soon he is lending his help to the government in the war against Napoleon Bonaparte, creating ghostly fleets of rain-ships to confuse and alarm the French.
All goes well until a rival magician appears. Jonathan Strange is handsome, charming, and talkative, the very opposite of Mr. Norrell. Strange thinks nothing of enduring the rigors of campaigning with Wellington's army and doing magic on battlefields. Astonished to find another practicing magician, Mr. Norrell accepts Strange as a pupil. But it soon becomes clear that their ideas of what English magic ought to be are very different...
Sophisticated, witty, and ingeniously convincing, Susanna Clarke's magisterial novel weaves magic into a flawlessly detailed vision of historical England. She has created a world so thoroughly enchanting that 32 hours leave readers longing for more.
©2004 Susanna Clarke; (P)2004 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers, LLC, and Bloomsbury Publishing
"A smashing success....An exceptionally compelling, brilliantly creative, and historically fine-tuned piece of work." (Booklist)
"Extraordinary....Immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor, and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike." (Publishers Weekly)
"Ravishing...superb...combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien." (Time)
"Clarke welcomes herself into an exalted company of British writers, not only, some might argue, Dickens and Austen, but also the fantasy legends Kenneth Grahame and George MacDonald, as well as contemporary writers like Susan Cooper and Philip Pullman." (The New York Times Book Review)
Just like a previous reviewer, I have resisted reading this book for a while now, though mainly due to lack of time. So when I saw that it was available on Audible, I jumped at the chance.
I truly can not fault this audiobook. The author's incredible talent for recreating the atmosphere of Georgian London is impressive, all the more as the story is woven with such loving attention to detail that even someone with some scholarly knowledge in English and Metropolitan history is soon enticed to suspend disbelief and 'enjoy the ride'.
The story itself is deeply compelling, containing all the essential elements of a good fantasy novel without any of the pitfalls and clich?s that genre is often plagued by.
Without giving too much away, the arduous re-discovery of the long lost knowledge of English magic, once the foundation of the North of England under the fabled Raven King, two feuding magicians, Faeries, madness and love that refuses to lose hope, combined with a first-class narrator who understands how to bring the individual characters to life with real passion, make this one of the most enjoyable audiobooks I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. And its length (4 parts of around 8 hours each) ensure that the pleasure lasts for some time.
When I downloaded Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell I was a little concerned at how I was going to manage with a book over 30 hours long. I need not have worried - this is an audio joy!
I was gripped from the first chapter and was totally engrossed until the last word. I normally listen to audiobooks at bedtime but I needed more so I took to listening in the car, during my lunch break, in fact anytime possible. I have really enjoyed this book and to be honest feel rather sad that I have finally reached the end. I had to stop the car for the last 15 minutes!
Simon Prebble's narration is wonderful, giving clear and diverse characters just the right voice and tone. Not once during the 32 hours did I wonder who was speaking and when a character returned I was calling out their name in glee. Simon's stamina must be admired as there is not a single change in pace, quality or crispness which is no mean feat for a book of this length.
The story is charming, witty, dark, scary, joyful and full of suspense. Every emotion is played out and I found myself laughing, exclaiming in shock (turned heads in the office), shouting at the characters not to do this or do that and even crying. Woven into the completely mesmerising plot of The Revival of English Magic, history, magic and faeries blend into the most pleasing and believable tale. Superb!
This was my first purchase Audible went live in the UK. I had resisted the book for months but when I heard the audio sample I was hooked. Jane Austen meets Harry Potter. The book is sheer bliss. The quality of the recording superb the narrators voice just perfect. I really cannot praise this enough! Buy it and listen!
This book is a difficult one to review. Let me say, first of all, that I ended up loving it, but it is definitely an acquired taste, and not an easy listen. People have mentioned how long this novel is, to get to the end of it you'll need stamina, as at times it is extremely longwinded and feels very dry (atleast the way the reader relates it) I can understand why some have given up on it in other reviews here, yet on its plus side it has some of the most stunning imagery I've ever encountered.
Susanna Clarke has undeniably a brilliant imagination, some scenarios she described will be stuck in my head for many years to come.
In summation, don't expect to enjoy this book at all times, it can only be accessed as a whole. If you finish it to the end, you'll see why.
it's a good story, of the rivalry between two magicians, but at times it seems over-long and i found myself not concentrating on the story. Well read though. Would recommend if you have a lot of time and / or patience.
Beautifully written tale of magic and Faries, but not as we know it. Throw in lots of history and characters that jumped from the page. I was enchanted and surprised by this novel, I did not want it to end.
Lose yourself in this one.
Overall this book is worth the effort to listen to - it's a long listen.
The story is compelling and generally holds the listeners attention.
At times, however, the author struggles to keep the tale interesting and I found myself frustrated with the length of time she takes to describe a very simple transition in the story. Maybe a little shorter text in places would have kept my attention through these passages.
Certainly worth the effort of listening to.
This is a brilliant listen! Superb delivery by our narrator; a wonderful plot; extraordinary characterisation; exquisite use of language; seamless melding of the fantastical with the ordinary; a knowing wit; a dark underbelly; an original slant on the magical world in a believable context and a very satisfying length of a novel that keeps the reader riveted. A master-work of arcane fiction.
This is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. Normally I have never enjoyed books about magicians or any kind of fantasy - they just leave me cold - but from the very beginning of this book I was completely hooked. The slow but insistent rhythm of the story, the dense plotlines and period detail, and the sense that the events described were utterly feasible, combine with the artistry of the narration to make this a thoroughly absorbing and satisfying listen. Definitely 5 stars!
I would highly recommend this book- it is certainly good value for a single credit!
The book is based around a superb idea, and is wonderfully written. While the plot does not move very quickly, I was kept engrossed by the large number of wonderful mini-stories that are woven into the text. There is a nice twist at the end too...
The narration is absolutely superb. The narrator has a great voice for this kind of book that I could happlily listen to for hours, and he captures well the kindly ironic nature of the text.
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