[Review] Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

03:33 Cilla P 1 Comments

Prunella had once thought life in London would be all flirting and balls and dresses, hitting attentive suitors on the shoulder with a fan, and breakfasting late upon bowls of chocolate. She sighed now for her naïveté. Little had she known life in London was in fact all hexes and murder and thaumaturgical politics, and she would always be rising early for some reason or other!

Full disclosure: I fell into a reading slump in the middle of reading Sorcerer to the Crown, but I picked it up again and bounced back. Even with the slow start, this book is now one of my favourites. Sorcerer to the Crown is set against a rich, magical setting, with memorable characters and beautiful writing. If you're a fantasy reader, you need to get this on your TBR!

It's almost an understatement to say that Sorcerer to the Crown is diverse. It was obvious that magic was not the monopoly of Britain, where the story takes place; there was a clear sense that different parts of the world has different magic systems. This is something that seems intuitive, given that we have different mythologies and folktales from different cultures, yet I don't think I've encountered it that often in fantasy. Maybe I don't read enough high fantasy, but to me the world of Sorcerer of the Crown felt... global. I found it refreshing and fascinating.

The book didn't shy away from the sort of conflicts that come with a diverse world. Zachariah Wythe may be a powerful magician and Sorcerer Royal, but to his colleagues, he is a black man first and foremost. Prunella Gentleman is a biracial woman, and it took the whole damn book (and the journey likely isn't finished yet) for the community of thaumaturges to see that she can physically handle magic beyond using it for household spells. I can't wait to read more of these two smashing their society's prejudices.

Not only that, both Zachariah, a freed slave turned scholar with a secret burden, and Prunella, a bright ambitious orphan, are fascinating characters. Separately, their journeys were intriguing, but it was when their paths finally intersected that the book really took off. The minor characters are worth mentioning too: from the talking magical creatures to Mak Genggang (aforementioned Malay sorceress), they're part of the delight.

The writing style took some getting used to. The narration, as much as the dialogue, was written in a... Regency style, perhaps? I'm not familiar with the terms, but basically the narrator's voice sounded less to me like a modern author and more like Jane Austen (including the humour, of which there was plenty here). I thought this had an authenticating effect, since the characters very much speak in the mannerism of Regency English and might have looked jarring against a more modern writing style. However, I initially struggled with it (hence the reading slump), and needed to be in the right head space to make the effort.

All in all, I had a bit of a difficult start with Sorcerer to the Crown, but it ended up being the best mixture of my favourite genres (historical fiction, fantasy, and romance). If you're after a funny, diverse, exciting read, I'd highly recommend this book.

Reading this book contributes to the following challenges:

❥ Goodreads Challenge
❥ The Backlist Books Reader Challenge

Title: Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1) ❙ Author: Zen Cho ❙ Publisher: Pan ❙ Source: Bought ❙ Release Date: 28 July 2016

"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…"

1 comment:

  1. Regency and magic together sounds like a great combination, I'll have to look this out! I haven't read any fantasy in ages but it sounds like a really interesting world.


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