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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

by

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Cover

ISBN13: 9781582346038
ISBN10: 1582346038
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 10 comments:

Rosalind Reading, June 10, 2013 (view all comments by Rosalind Reading)
If Jane Austen and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had a strange, charismatic, and loquacious child, it would be Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. This novel has Austen's dry wit, Marquez's wild imagination and magic realism, and something else entirely its own. Here is a Britain at war with Napoleon's empire aided by two magicians: the ornery, traditional Mr. Norrell, and the lanky, charming, and rather dangerously daring Jonathan Strange. Packed with hilarious footnotes, fairy lore that conjures up barrows of ancient Britain, and killer one-liners, this novel earns every one of its (many, many) pages.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
danb, January 31, 2013 (view all comments by danb)
I sometimes reread books, but never the very day I finish them. But this terrific, surprising, absorbing novel made me do it. I just wasn't ready to be done with these characters, who have a Dickensian fullness (and fabulous, often hilarious dialogue). Great, great, great.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Jacko, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Jacko)
Spectacular scope and creativity. A beautiful read. Highly recommended.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781582346038
Author:
Clarke, Susanna
Publisher:
Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Author:
Blyth, Alistair Ian
Author:
Florian, Filip
Subject:
General
Subject:
Teacher-student relationships
Subject:
Fairies
Subject:
Fantasy - Historical
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Fantasy - General
Subject:
Fantasy fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Science Fiction and Fantasy-Fantasy-Historical
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20050831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
27 BandW illus
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in

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Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell Used Trade Paper
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Product details 224 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781582346038 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 , "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-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 , "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 , "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 , "For all of her flights of postmodernist fancy, for all her stories about 'black towers' and magical books and hidden bridges that connect England to Faerie, Clarke has delivered a book of universal truths and unexpectedly heartbreaking acuity."
"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 , "[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 , "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 , "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..."
"Synopsis" by ,
A novel about the adventures of a dentist and the future king of Romania, set in nineteenth-century Bucharest.
"Synopsis" by , Joseph Strauss (a dentist and bachelor, client of the Eleven Titties brothel and of Der Große Bär beer cellar) leaves Prussia in the spring of 1866 and follows a captain of dragoons to Bucharest, where the officer is to ascend the throne as prince of the United Principalities of Romania. War is imminent in central Europe, but the company of a special tomcat, a guardian angel of sorts, helps him to overcome all dangers. 

In Bucharest, Joseph will meet and fall in love with an attractive nanny, while the prince distances himself from the dentist, seeking to erase all stains from his past, particularly his involvement with a beautiful blind prostitute. But unbeknownst to him, she has given birth to a baby boy with a suspiciously aristocratic nose . . . 

Nations are invented and dissolved overnight, kingdoms are for sale, Bucharest grows from a muddy pigsty into an elegant capital city, and love turns everything upside down in The Days of the King.

"Synopsis" by ,
The international bestseller, finally in paperback!

Time magazines #1 book of the year • 11 weeks and counting on the New York Times bestseller list • Shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award • Longlisted for the Booker prize • A Book Sense pick • People Top Ten Books of the year • Salon.com Top Ten of 2004 • New York Times Notable Books of the Year • Christian Science Monitor Best Fiction 2004 • Nancy Pearls Top 12 Books of 2004 • Washington Post Book World Best of 2004 • San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of 2004 • Chicago Tribune Best of 2004 • Seattle Times 25 Best Books of 2004 • Atlanta Journal-Constitution Top 12 Books of 2004 • Village Voice “Top Shelf” • Raleigh News & Observer Best of 2004 • Rocky Mountain News critics favorites of 2004 Kansas City Star 100 Noteworthy Books of 2004 • Fort Worth Star-Telegram 10 Best Books of 2004 • Hartford Courant Best Books of 2004

Susanna Clarkes brilliant first novel is an utterly compelling epic tale of nineteenth-century England and the two very different magicians who, as teacher and pupil and then as rivals, emerge to change its history. Sold in 21 languages, with a major motion picture from New Line on the way, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a tour de force that has captured the imagination of readers worldwide.

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