Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal, #1)
by Zen Cho.
What do you get if you mix 1 part Jane Austen style, 1 part historical fiction, 1 part mystery, a whole lot of magic, and a dash of playful absurdity à la Gail Carriger? This fun book.
Sorcerer to the Crown tells the story of Zacharias Wythe, the Sorcerer Royal, tasked with the upkeep and oversight of England’s magic: practices, practitioners, and general levels. He’s new to the job and already has a few things against him. 1) He’s an emancipated slave in a world of white men. 2) He inherited the job under rather suspicious circumstances. 3) There’s something funny going on with magic levels in England. 4) He’s got some unorthodox (and unpopular) ideas about how magic should be done in England. and 5) Being more comfortable with solitude, his political and diplomatic skills leave something to be desired. All of this added together creates a bit of an untenable situation, painting a target on his back. When Zacharias also stumbles upon an unusual woman with gifts and powers that English magical tradition says shouldn’t exist, it sets him firmly on the path to shake up magical practice in England. The outcome and consequences may prove far more wide-reaching.
I thoroughly enjoyed this read. The dry wit and banter-y tone throughout had me chuckling out loud sometimes. It was a bit slow to get started, and very predictable in certain aspects, but it also threw in surprises in other areas. The two main characters, Zacharias and Prunella, are well-done and engaging. And there are just so many hints and flavors of of other classic books and characters in here, but combined in a fresh way, that, again, it was just a fun read. The ending, alas, is one of the things that was most predictable, but I am still looking forward to seeing where things go in book 2.
If you want to see what might have happened if Jane Austen had written a fantasy-mystery-adventure, you might want to give this a try. 🙂