Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1), by Zen Cho
Description: (from panmacmillan)
The fate of English magic lies in their hands. . .
In Regency London, Zacharias Wythe is England’s first African Sorcerer Royal. He leads the eminent Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, but a malicious faction seeks to remove him by fair means or foul. Meanwhile, the Society is failing its vital duty – to keep stable the levels of magic within His Majesty’s lands. The Fairy Court is blocking its supply, straining England’s dangerously declining magical stores. And now the government is demanding to use this scarce resource in its war with France.
Ambitious orphan Prunella Gentleman is desperate to escape the school where she’s drudged all her life, and a visit by the beleaguered Sorcerer Royal seems the perfect opportunity. For Prunella has just stumbled upon English magic’s greatest discovery in centuries – and she intends to make the most of it.
At his wits’ end, the last thing Zachariah needs is a female magical prodigy! But together, they might just change the nature of sorcery, in Britain and beyond.
I first got this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I loved it and then got it as a Christmas present, I needed to own a copy!
A beautiful cover for a beautiful story is always appreciated! The golden cover is my favourite but the red one is also very good at representing the story, they’re both complementary (I’m thinking about buying all the edition for this book, this is how much I loved it! I only started to do that with Harry Potter and The Hobbit so far). The paperback was announced a few days ago, foiled red, with the profiles of the two main characters, I like the original two better but it’s still a great cover!
This story is everything I’ve ever wanted (I already got everything I ever wanted with lots of other books but STILL). Like The Name of The Wind – that I loved – it has a slow start but if you don’t like that, do not put down that book already please!
It starts with the point of view of a young Zacharias, an African freed slave. At first I was kind of disappointed that we did not get to follow him throughout his education and his development, since the book quickly jumps to the “present”. But it actually is a good starting point, we get to see the long way he came from and we find him in a totally different state of mind, which makes us wonder what happened during these years. We quickly learn, as can be read in the publisher’s description, that there are troubles in this alternative England and its magic. Everyone blames Zacharias, as he’s the actual Sorcerer Royal (like the chief of the sorcerers, or their prime minister, like Cornelius Fudge in Harry Potter, but much younger and nicer).
THEN! Prunella. I loved her so much!! As long as I’m concerned, she’s the main character. She has so much charisma! She’s also orphaned and half-Indian. AND she’s full of magic. Meanwhile the whole sorcerer community is struggling to find magic and no familiar (YES you read well: familiars! But they are “acquired” at a great cost…) has been seen in years. Except there is a problem: women aren’t allowed to learn how to use their magic. But Prunella isn’t going to let this stop her.
“I might go anywhere and do any magic I pleased if I were Peter, not Prunella.”
The dynamic between Prunella and Zackarias is so refreshing, fun and cute! Prunella is not afraid to speak her mind, or to challenge Zacharias. I said she was my favourite but URGH my heart swells just thinking about Zacharias again. You’re going to want to hug him so hard! Or pat him on the head, if you’re not the hugging type. He learns and grows a lot throughout the book; but he endures also so much, it’s painful at times!
“Your amoral ingenuity in the pursuit of your interest is perfectly shocking,” said Zacharias severely. “Yes, isn’t it?” said Prunella, pleased.”
So, if you like fantasy, historical fiction, alternate history with a touch of romance: buy this book and read it! And in the slightest eventuality that you wouldn’t like it (it hurts me to think about it, how is that even possible??) it’s still a beautiful object that would be gleaming nicely on your shelf!
It is a debut novel and one of my favourite of 2015, I really can’t wait to read more books by Zen Cho! She’s really promising and I look forward to see the whole series on my shelves.
News on the sequel!!
I want to thank @Atsurement for the encouragments to start posting and for proofreading this post!
(originally posted: 25th February 2016)