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Historical Fantasy Review: Sorcerer to The Crown by Zen Cho

Sorcerer to The Crown by Zen Cho (Sorcerer Royal #1)

Egalley thanks to Ace

Synopsis from Goodreads
Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

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…

 Amazon US/UK | Amazon kindle US/UK | The Book Depository


* * *

I had unfairly high expectations about this book, you see. I read Zen Cho's short novella last month and fell in love with her style and elegance, so I expected this whole new book to make me feel the same way.

And while there were moments of brilliance, there were also periods of absolute drudgery. Mostly I blame Zacharias Wythe for that, who despite being one of the two main characters, didn't have a decency to appear interesting. Instead he was a passive hero (which is one of the worst things yo can do to your character short of killing them). He reacted to the events instead of instigating them.

It was Prunella who absolutely stole the limelight since the very moment we saw her (at about 20% into the book). Please  persevere reading until then. She was a sparkling, dizzying, unstoppable hurricane, a larger than life personality, witty and funny with her abrupt, unapologetic manner. I loved her!

Prunella didn't need Zacharias, she could have done all the things she needed to do on her own, but she wanted the sorcerer on her side and she fought to keep him safe. Funnily enough, the majority of the events in this book are created and driven by women. The men generally run around making nuisance of themselves. *grinning*

The only two things Wythe has going for him are that he is black and a scholar. He becomes Sorcerer Royal when his mentor dies unexpectedly, and he is miserable at his job. To be a Sorcerer Royal is to be a politician, and he is definitely lacking in this regard managing to antagonise most of his potential allies while all  he wants is to solve magical problems off England.

Unlike him, Prunella is on the ball. A magical female in a country which doesn't allow its gently bred young women to use magic, she persuades Wythe to start a reform and take her as an apprentice. At the same time she has her own agenda - get rich and find a husband, and she has an ace up her sleeve to do just so. Of course, then she goes and spoils it all by falling in love with Zacharias.

As I said already, Prunella was fascinating. Domerell, Wythe's friend, and his familiar, Rollo were very amusing too. The world-building was very easy to follow and reminded me of The Shattered Court by M.J. Scott.

Overall, I think, I'll enjoy reading book#2 much more now that I know what to expect. It was an okay read.

* * *
У меня были несправедливо  завышенные ожидания по отношению к этой книге. И всё потому, что я прочитала повесть Зен Чо в прошлом месяце и совершенно влюбилась в её росчерк пера. Так что я ожидала, что эта книга будет такой же блестящей.

И в ней были блестящие моменты, правда. Но также и очень скучная проза, и что уж совершенно непростительно для писателя (хуже этого может быть только убийство одного из главных героев) - скучный главный персонаж. Уайт - невыносимо пассивен. Он реагирует на происходящее, а не провоцирует его.  Единственное, что работает в его пользу и делает его минимально интересным, это то, что он джентельмен негр и школяр на посту, традиционно привлекающим белых чародеев с большими политическими амбициями. Его титул Королевского Чародея не приносит ему ничего  кроме неприятностей.

С другой стороны, Прюнелла сочетает в себе всё то, что отсутствует в характере Уайта. Она блестяща, остроумна, проворна,  честолюбива и беспощадна. На самом деле, без неё Закария был бы уже давно мёртв.

Прюнелла встречает его после 20% книги, (так что дожмите первые несколько глав, вместо того, чтобы книгу сразу же забросить) и убеждает забрать с собой в Лондон, где она хочет разбогатеть и найти мужа. Будучи ведьмой в мире, где занятия магией открыты только джентельменам, Прюнелла становится подмастерьем Закарии, который убеждён, что обучение женщин магии необходимо и что его нужно реформировать.

Между коварными чародеями, жадными политиками, рассерженными королевами фэйри и враждебными инстранными волшебницами, именно Прюнелла находит блестящий выход из ситуации, и скучать она нам не даёт.

Я читать буду книгу вторую только из-за неё, ибо надо. А так,  восторгаться сюжетом и построением мира особо не получается. Они не оригинальны. Те же М. Дж. Скотт и Мэри Робинетт Коваль написали что-то подобное  и гораздо талантливее.
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