Sorcerer to the Crown

Monday, May 30, 2016


Sorcerer to the Crown
Zen Cho, 2015

Challenge Book! Book Riot Read Harder Challenge 2016 - Read a book that is by an author from Southeast Asia

Premise: Prunella Gentleman has always been skilled in magic, but teaching young ladies to do advanced thaumaturgy is simply not done. Sorcerer Royal Zacharias Wythe has his own problems to deal with, as there is a problem with England’s magic and none of the (white) magicians believe that he can solve it.

I felt a bit like I was cheating on the Read Harder Challenge once I started to read this. A historical fantasy set in England isn’t exactly stretching out of my comfort zone. However, author Zen Cho is writing from her experience, as a Malaysian-born woman who currently lives in England.

The main characters, Prunella and Zacharias, are potentially powerful in different ways, and they both navigate the line of walking in upper-class circles while being of obviously non-white heritage in Regency London.

Zacharias is African; he was purchased, freed, and adopted by the previous Sorcerer Royal. Prunella’s father was British, but her mother, who she never knew, was Indian. Her heritage is key to her story, and her attitude and determination are the best part of the book.

The book fits easily in the best modern tradition of historical fiction that doesn’t sugarcoat its history while allowing its characters to conceive of and reach for something better.

I liked how much of the world of magic was implied rather than spelled out, making this an easy and fast read. The cast of characters, particularly female characters, is happily a large and diverse group of intriguing personalities.

My main criticism might be that although it was a fun story, by the end it all felt a bit like introductory material - just set up for a much bigger and better story to come.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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