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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Cover

ISBN13: 9780765356154
ISBN10: 0765356155
Condition: Standard
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Excerpt

(takes place in Venice, after Strange and Norrell have parted ways. Drawlight, a servant of Mr Norrell?s has come with foul intentions, either to abduct or murder Strange. But Strange, obsessed with the Raven King, has other plans?)

?I will show you,? said Strange, ?and then you will understand. If you perform these three tasks, I shall take no revenge on you. I shall not harm you. Deliver these three messages and you may return to your night-hunts, to your devouring of men and women.?

?Thank you! Thank you!? breathed Drawlight, gratefully, until a horrible realisation gripped him. ?Three! But, sir, you only gave me two!?

?Three messages,? said Strange, wearily. ?You must deliver three messages.?

?Yes, but you have not told me what the third is!?

Strange made no reply. He turned away, muttering to himself.

In spite of all his terror, Drawlight had a great desire to get hold of the magician and shake him. He might have done it too, if he thought it would do any good. Tears of self-pity began to trickle down his face. Now Strange would kill him for not performing the third task and it was not his fault.

?Bring me a drink of water!? said Strange, suddenly returning.

Drawlight looked around. In the middle of the Venetian square there was a well. He went over to it and found a horrible old iron cup attached to the stones by a length of rusting chain. He pushed aside the well-cover, drew up a pail of water and dipped the cup into the water. He hated touching it. Curiously, after everything that had happened to him that day it was the iron cup he hated the most. All of his life he had loved beautiful things, but now everything that surrounded him was horrible. It was the magicians? fault. How he hated them!

?Sir? Lord magician?? he called out. ?You will have to come here to drink.? He showed the iron chain by way of an explanation.

Strange came forward, but he did not take the proffered cup. Instead he took a tiny phial out of his pocket and handed it to Drawlight. ?Put six drops in the water,? he said.

Drawlight took out the stopper. His hand was trembling so much that he feared he would pour the whole thing on the ground. Strange did not appear to notice; Drawlight shook in some drops.

Strange took the cup and drank the water down. The cup fell from his hand. Drawlight was aware?he did not know how exactly?that Strange was changed. Against the starry sky the black shape of his figure sagged and his head drooped. Drawlight wondered if he were drunk. But how could a few drops of any thing make a man drunk? Besides he did not smell of strong liquor; he smelt like a man who had not washed himself or his linen for some weeks; and there was another smell too?one that had not been there a minute ago?a smell like old age and half a hundred cats.

Drawlight had the strangest feeling. It was something he had felt before when magic was about to happen. Invisible doors seemed to be opening all around him; winds blew on him from far away, bringing scents of woods, moors and bogs. Images flew unbidden into his mind. The houses around him were no longer empty. He could see inside them as if the walls had been removed. Each dark room contained — not a person exactly — a Being, an Ancient Spirit. One contained a Fire; another a Stone; yet another a Shower of Rain; yet another a Flock of Birds; yet another a Hillside; yet another a Small Creature with Dark and Fiery Thoughts; and on and on.

?What are they?? he whispered, in amazement. He realised that all the hairs on his head were standing on end as if he had been electrified. Then a new, different sensation took him: it was a sensation not unlike falling, and yet he remained standing. It was as if his mind had fallen down?

He thought he stood upon an English hillside. Rain was falling; it twisted in the air like grey ghosts. Rain fell upon him and he grew thin as rain. Rain washed away thought, washed away memory, all the good and the bad. He no longer knew his name. Everything was washed away like mud from a stone. Rain filled him up with thoughts and memories of its own. Silver lines of water covered the hillside, like intricate lace, like the veins of an arm. Forgetting that he was, or ever had been, a man, he became the lines of water. He fell into the earth with the rain.

* * *

He thought he lay beneath the earth, beneath England. Long ages passed; cold and rain seeped through him; stones shifted within him. In the Silence and the Dark he grew vast. He became the earth; he became England. A star looked down on him and spoke to him. A stone asked him a question and he answered it in its own language. A river curled at his side; hills budded beneath his fingers. He opened his mouth and breathed out Spring...

* * *

He thought he was pressed into a thicket in a dark wood in winter. The trees went on forever, dark pillars separated by thin, white slices of winter light. He looked down. Young saplings pierced him through and through; they grew up through his body, through his feet and hands. His eyelids would no longer close because twigs had grown up through them. Insects scuttled in and out of his ears; spiders built nests and webs in his mouth. He realised he had been entwined in the wood for years and years. He knew the wood and the wood knew him. There was no saying any longer what was wood and what was man.

All was silent. Snow fell. He screamed...

 

Blackness.

 

Like rising up from beneath dark waters, Drawlight came to himself. Who it was that released him?whether Strange, or the Wood, or England itself?he did not know, but he felt its contempt as it cast him back into his own mind. The Ancient Spirits withdrew from him. His thoughts and sensations shrank to those of a Man. He was dizzy and reeling from the memory of what he had endured. He examined his hands and rubbed the places on his body where the trees had pierced him. They seemed whole enough; oh, but they hurt! He whimpered and looked around for Strange.

The magician was a little way off, crouching by a wall, muttering magic to himself. He struck the wall once; the stones bulged, changed shape, became a raven; the raven opened its wings and, with a loud caw, flew up towards the night sky. He struck the wall again: another raven emerged from the wall and flew away. Then another and another, and on and on, thick and fast they came until all the stars above were blotted out by black wings.

Strange raised his hand to strike again...

?Lord magician,? gasped Drawlight. ?You have not told me what the third message is.?

Strange looked round. Without warning he seized Drawlight?s coat and pulled him close. Drawlight could feel Strange?s stinking breath on his face and for the first time he could see his face. Starlight shone on fierce, wild eyes, from which all humanity and reason had fled.

?Tell Norrell I am coming!? hissed Strange. ?Now, go!?

Drawlight did not need to be told twice. He sped away through the darkness. Ravens seemed to pursue him. He could not see them, but he heard the beating of their wings and felt the currents in the air that those wings created. Halfway across a bridge he tumbled without warning into dazzling light. Instantly he was surrounded by the sound of birdsong and of people talking. Men and women were walking and talking and going about their everyday pursuits. Here was no terrible magic?only the everyday world?the wonderful, beautiful everyday world.

Drawlight?s clothes were still drenched in seawater and the weather was cruelly cold. He was in a part of the city he did not recognize. No one offered to help him and for a long time he walked about, lost and exhausted. Eventually he happened upon a square he knew and was able to make his way back to the little tavern where he rented a room. By the time he reached it, he was weak and shivering. He undressed and rinsed the salt from his body as best he could. Then he lay down on his little bed.

For the next two days he lay in a fever. His dreams were unspeakable things, filled with Darkness, Magic and the Long, Cold Ages of the Earth. And all the time he slept he was filled with dread lest he wake to find himself under the earth or crucified by a winter wood.

By the middle of the third day he was recovered enough to get up and go to the harbor. There he found an English ship bound for Portsmouth. He showed the captain the letters and papers Lascelles had given him, promising a large fee to the ship that bore him back to England and signed by two of the most famous bankers in Europe.

By the fifth day he was on a ship bound for England.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 18 comments:

Lucy Black, February 19, 2010 (view all comments by Lucy Black)
This novel is set in the early nineteenth century; an age where the once common magicians and their fairy servants have entirely disappeared. Two men appear on the scene to breath life into English magic, rescuing it from those who’d rather argue pure theory than practice the actual craft. Of course Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell have opposing ideas as to how they should accomplish said task, and there are many others who are eager to exploit the two magician’s talents.

One of the few good novels of the fantasy genre that I’ve read -- ever. Clarke evidently realizes that one can write creatively without sacrificing intelligence or credibility. Mixing historical figures with characters of her own creation, the author brings both to life with equal skill. Highly recommended to anyone who’d like a clever fantasy novel, where aspects like plot and character development aren’t sacrificed to funny-sounding names.
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(7 of 9 readers found this comment helpful)
Julia Schnell, January 20, 2010 (view all comments by Julia Schnell)
While at first I only bought the book for its cover art (it happens) I was quickly taken by its lush and intricate world. Couldn't put it down.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
klb, January 18, 2010 (view all comments by klb)
I recommend this to anyone who loves to get lost in great big books.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780765356154
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Clarke, Susanna
Illustrator:
Rosenberg, Portia
Author:
Prebble, Simon
Publisher:
Tor Books
Subject:
Teacher-student relationships
Subject:
Fairies
Subject:
Fantasy - Historical
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Mass Market Paperbound
Publication Date:
20060801
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
26 cds, 32 hours
Pages:
1024
Dimensions:
6.69 x 4.13 in

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Product details 1024 pages Tor Books - English 9780765356154 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

I know you shouldn't recommend books that you are only halfway through, but this is such a lush tapestry of a book I can't resist. Like a moist rich chocolate torte, Strange and Norrell is the sort of book you ration out to avoid finishing it too soon. If you need more convincing, Neil Gaiman calls it, "unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years."

"Staff Pick" by ,

A fantasy book of manners? Yes, and it works! Original and clever, this lush novel comments on the society and culture of magic. Strange and Norrell have opposing viewpoints on magic's role, and their clash provides a fabulous backdrop for this wonderful book. Just read it! It's great.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "The drawing room social comedies of early 19th-century Britain are infused with the powerful forces of English folklore and fantasy in this extraordinary novel of two magicians who attempt to restore English magic in the age of Napoleon. In Clarke's world, gentlemen scholars pore over the magical history of England, which is dominated by the Raven King, a human who mastered magic from the lands of faerie. The study is purely theoretical until Mr. Norrell, a reclusive, mistrustful bookworm, reveals that he is capable of producing magic and becomes the toast of London society, while an impetuous young aristocrat named Jonathan Strange tumbles into the practice, too, and finds himself quickly mastering it. Though irritated by the reticent Norrell, Strange becomes the magician's first pupil, and the British government is soon using their skills. Mr. Strange serves under Wellington in the Napoleonic Wars (in a series of wonderful historical scenes), but afterward the younger magician finds himself unable to accept Norrell's restrictive views of magic's proper place and sets out to create a new age of magic by himself. Clarke manages to portray magic as both a believably complex and tedious labor, and an eerie world of signs and wonders where every object may have secret meaning. London politics and talking stones are portrayed with equal realism and seem indisputably part of the same England, as signs indicate that the Raven King may return. The chock-full, old-fashioned narrative (supplemented with deft footnotes to fill in the ignorant reader on incidents in magical history) may seem a bit stiff and mannered at first, but immersion in the mesmerizing story reveals its intimacy, humor and insight, and will enchant readers of fantasy and literary fiction alike. Agent, Jonny Geller. (Oct.) Forecast: A massive push by Bloomsbury has made this one of the most anticipated novels of the season. It's convenient to pigeonhole it as Harry Potter for grownups — and grown-up readers of J.K. Rowling will enjoy it — but its deep grounding in history gives it gravitas as well as readability. 200,000 first printing; rights sold in 14 countries." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "It may be just as well that Susanna Clarke's first novel, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, is nearly as big as a house, since this is the kind of book you want to move into and settle down in for a long stay. It's set in a world very much like the England of the early 1800s, only in Clarke's version magic was once a daily presence and has since been lost or perhaps merely misplaced. In other words, this world resembles the world of our own reading, for most of us can remember a time when stepping into a book was like entering into an enchantment....Susanna Clarke's magic is universal." (read the entire Salon.com review)
"Review A Day" by , "The prospect of having to read an 800-page novel billed as 'Harry Potter for adults' was enough to make this weary book critic pine for an invisibility cloak. But for those of you who, like me, can't endure another charmless opening at the Dursleys', take heart: Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is no Harry Potter knockoff. It's altogether original — far closer to Dickens than Rowling....Move over, little Harry. It's time for some real magic." (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
"Review" by , "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is unquestionably the finest English novel of the fantastic written in the last seventy years. It's funny, moving, scary, otherworldly, practical and magical, a journey through light and shadow — a delight to read, both for the elegant and precise use of words, which Ms. Clarke deploys as wisely and dangerously as Wellington once deployed his troops, and for the vast sweep of the story, as tangled and twisting as old London streets or dark English woods. It is a huge book, filled with people it is a delight to meet, and incidents and places one wishes to revisit, which is, from beginning to end, a perfect pleasure."
"Review" by , "An instant classic, one of the finest fantasies ever written."
"Review" by , "Absolutely compelling...the author captures the period and its literary conventions with complete conviction. An astonishing achievement."
"Review" by , "Clarke's imagination is prodigious, her pacing is masterly and she knows how to employ dry humor....In this fantasy, the master that magic serves is reverence for writing."
"Review" by , "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell may or may not be the finest English fantasy of the past 70 years. But it is still magnificent and original, and that should be enough for any of us."
"Review" by , "Clarke has written a 19th century classic; there's little doubt it will have readers clamoring for more."
"Review" by , "Clarke's ability to construct a fully imagined world...is impressive, and there are some suspenseful moments. But her attempt to graft a fantasy narrative onto such historical realities as the Battle of Waterloo is more often awkward than clever..."
"Review" by , "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is no Harry Potter knockoff. It's altogether original — far closer to Dickens than Rowling....Clarke drops supernatural elements into the plot slowly and sparingly, luring fantasy readers along, while acclimating skittish newcomers to this genre gradually."
"Review" by , "[I]mmense, intelligent, inventive, arid, and exhausting....Clarke is a restrained and witty writer with an arch and eminently readable style....Wholly original and richly imagined, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell turns out to be more admirable than lovable. (Grade: B)"
"Review" by , "Clarke has crafted a great, looping narrative filled with characters greater and lesser that will pique first the interest and then the sympathy of the reader....The readers will find that this tale, though long, comes to an end far too soon."
"Review" by , "Clarke is marvelously clever — she could step right up there with J.K. Rowling. Her extensive, fictional footnotes are as amusing as they are informative....[S]plendid reading..."
"Review" by , "Strange lives up to all the enticing promise of Clarke's earlier work. Her deftly assumed faux-19th century point of view will beguile cynical adult readers into losing themselves in this entertaining and sophisticated fantasy."
"Review" by , "What kind of magic can make a nearly 800-page novel seem too short?....[Clarke's] epic history of an alternative, magical England is so beautifully realized that not one of the many enchantments Clarke chronicles in the book could ever be as potent or as quickening as her own magnificent narrative."
"Review" by , "With all the hype, it's tempting to dismiss Clarke's novel as a mere knockoff, but it's the real thing: original, mesmerizing, with uncompromising literary integrity."
"Review" by , "If Harry Potter makes you want to be a kid again, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell will make you realize that being an adult should be a whole lot more fun than it is."
"Synopsis" by ,
The national bestseller is now available on audio!

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. For Mr Norrell, their power is something to be cautiously controlled, while Jonathan Strange will always be attracted to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic. He becomes fascinated by the ancient, shadowy figure of the Raven King, a child taken by fairies who became king of both England and Faerie, and the most legendary magician of all. Eventually Strange's heedless pursuit of long-forgotten magic threatens to destroy not only his partnership with Norrell, but everything that he holds dear.
 
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 eight hundred pages leave readers longing for more.

Elegant, witty, and flawlessly detailed, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is the breakout smash of the fall—a magisterial first novel that draws readers into Susanna Clarkes fantastic and utterly convincing vision of a past world.

"Synopsis" by ,
BOOK SENSE BOOK OF THE YEAR

A PEOPLE MAGAZINE "TOP TEN" BOOK

WINNER OF THE HUGO AWARD

WINNER OF THE WORLD FANTASY AWARD

"Ravishing...Combines the dark mythology of fantasy with the delicious social comedy of Jane Austen into a masterpiece of the genre that rivals Tolkien."--Time

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsome, and daring Jonathan Strange. He becomes Norrell's student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.

"What kind of magic can make an 800-page novel seem too short? Whatever it is, debut author Susanna Clarke is possessed by it."--USA Today

"From beginning to end, a perfect pleasure."--Neil Gaiman

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