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Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, by Susanna Clarke (Books 2007, 10)

I’d been looking forward to reading this multi-award-winner for ages, and when I finally got round to it, it was more than worth the wait.

It’s the history of English magic: why it faded out, and how our two esteemed titular heroes brought it back. It’s set around the time of Wellington, and George III. So we have magicians enlisted to help in the war against France, and the possibility that the king’s madness is at least in part caused by creatures from Faerie.

It’s a fantastic work. I particularly like the way the the magic is described. There are no green beams of death leaping from wands here (don’t get me wrong, though, I love __Harry Potter__). Instead, when magic works it feels like all the windows in the world just opened, for example. Magic is mysterious, and dangerous, and hard to learn — but it _can_ be learned. Though it’s not clear (it isn’t known by the characters) whether _anybody_ can learn it, or if they need to have the talent.

Anyway, it’s utterly brilliant, highly recommended, and I look forward to reading the sequel, __The Ladies of Grace Adieu__.