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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  113,889 ratings  ·  8,678 reviews
At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight.

Soon, another practicing magician comes forth: the young, handsom
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Paperback, First Tor Edition, 1006 pages
Published August 1st 2006 by Tor Books (first published September 8th 2004)
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Rita Lamb The plot in the book is very ingenious but also very intricate, so for TV it has been simplified and some locations conflated. I felt Stephen Black is…moreThe plot in the book is very ingenious but also very intricate, so for TV it has been simplified and some locations conflated. I felt Stephen Black is less morally complex in the series than in the book, while Lady Pole gained a feminist dimension. Several enjoyable minor characters are dropped and Lascelles meets a somewhat different fate. It's still a remarkable adaptation though, and keeps more of the original than it loses.(less)
John There is some slowness at the beginning, after Norrell arrives in London, and before Strange is on the scene. Then the story picks up again. I found…moreThere is some slowness at the beginning, after Norrell arrives in London, and before Strange is on the scene. Then the story picks up again. I found the last 300 pages unstoppable.

However: if you haven't enjoyed it so far, you may not enjoy the rest. You don't seem to enjoy the voice, which structures the whole narrative, and that may be a deal-breaker.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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J.G. Keely
Sigh, just what we need, another revolutionary, unusual fantasy book by an author with a practiced mastery of tone. When will authors like Clarke realize that what the fantasy genre needs are more pseudo-medieval monomyths that sprawl out into fifteen volumes?

Her magic didn't conveniently solve all of the characters' problems, instead, they wasted time thinking through conflicts and then had to solve them by taking action; how dull is that? The magic was weird, anyways. It didn't have a simplist
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Kelly
Jun 20, 2007 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Fans of gothic, Victorian, Jane Austen or fantasy literature.
Without a doubt the best book I have read this year. I write that without hesitation and with a beaming smile on my face. Incredible. Enthralling. Amazing. The book was over 800 pages long and it did not seem long enough. When I finished the book, I immediately turned out the light and tried to drift off to sleep, because I knew nothing else I did that night was going to top the feeling I got after blowing through the last 100 pages like a madwoman. I want to start it over again, immediately.

The
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Eric
I so wanted to like this book. The idea is just wonderful. I was so pleased for a while to be in that world, a historical England. I love the dialogue and descriptions. And I love the idea of magic in an otherwise real setting, as though it were a normal part of our actual world. But it was so frustrating to read after a while. The footnotes, auuuugh, the footnotes. They were cute at first, because the book is written sort of like a history book from that period. But after a while they were just ...more
Steve Sckenda
Dec 06, 2014 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Historical Fantasy and Jane Austen
Recommended to Steve by: Richard
“If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.

--William Shakespeare, “Midsummer Night’s Dream”

I summon magic to write this review. How do I convince you to read a thousand-page epic, without revealing its plot? Fairies attend me. “Tree speaks to stone. Stone speaks to water. Speak to me.”

In Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clarke enchants us with her tale about the restoration of English magic during the Na
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Tiza
Aug 18, 2007 Tiza rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone who loves fantasy, 19th century British lit and can endure long, slow read
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
Although Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell turns out to be a book I dearly love, I'm afraid I can't recommend it to just anyone. Whether you'll like it or not will truly depend on what you expect it to be. If you wish for a fast-paced excitement then this book is probably not for you. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is a blend of meticulously researched historical fiction and imaginative fantasy, sprinkled here and there with biting social comedy, and written in a style similar to Austen's, whic ...more
Meagan
Jesus Christ, this book reads like molasses. It's like the author took every book from her Brit Lit class and consciously tried to make it wordier and longer than all of them combined. I get the point she wants to make, but I honestly could not get past the second chapter.

It also was so incredibly pretentious. The whole thing has this superior feel, like having a conversation with someone who is absolutely reassured of how much smarter they are than you. It left me feeling bored, stupid, depres
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mark monday
the hero of this novel, Mr. Norrell, is in many ways a stranger in a strange land, uncomfortable with base emotions and disappointed with the shabbiness and inadequacies of others... yet always yearning for true companionship. a dignified, erudite, and refined gentleman; quietly soulful and elegantly restrained; commanding in his encyclopedic knowledge of the magical arts.

the other character, a fey and unreliable sort apparently named "Jonathan Strange", offers fleeting friendship that is quick
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Paul Bryant
If a novel of nearly 900 pages can be summarised in one phrase then Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell may, I think, be described as a stately, sly, witty, intricate, comic retelling of Dracula, with digressions and very little blood.

Count Dracula takes life from beautiful young ladies, enslaves them, enchants them, enraptures them, steals them away, into his own twilight (oops, sorry) vampire world – they become something other than what they were, undead, not alive yet not dead, creatures which
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Bookworm Sean
Book like this are not written anymore. This feels like it should have been published in the nineteenth century and not because of the obvious setting, but because of the remarkable writing style. It is very similar to Austen’s that I’m sure she might have been delighted by Clarke’s work. Well, maybe. But, either way novelists like this do not exist in this age, unfortunately. The writing has the feel of a classic, but the plot has the feel of a thoroughly charming fantasy.

This is a work of co
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Apatt
Neil Gaiman said that this book is "hard to overpraise", I will make an attempt thus:

While I was reading the second half of this book it occurred to me that I don't actually need to read any other novel ever again, I could just read this one book over and over again for the rest of my days and when the Grim Reaper calls I shall have this book clutched possessively in my stiff, unyielding fingers.

Momentary insanity of course, but it is indicative of the devotion I feel toward this book. With in t
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Carol.
Dec 02, 2014 Carol. rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Victorian fantasy fans, insomniacs
In the beginning was a preface, and then an introduction, followed by some exposition, and then an opening.

Looking through the reviews, it appears many people either adore it or hate it. Frankly, I'm in neither camp, because I can't work up enough emotion to care. It took a long time to become interested, and I finally had to resort to a strategy of reading only a few chapters at a time, setting free any expectation that this was a book that would pull me in and never let me go. It became the p
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Evgeny
Lately I became very fond of static pictures in my reviews. This book will have none. It deserves a very serious discussion and I feel the inclusion of pictures would provide a distraction from such.

The best description of the book would be the following. Suppose Charles Dickens and Jane Austen had a love child – a daughter. A publisher was so thrilled by this that he promised to pay for a novel written by the daughter for each written word. The latter realized it would be a good time to take c
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Scribble Orca
Dec 27, 2012 Scribble Orca rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: almost everyone - unless you prefer Hollywood blockbusters, in which case, you'll be bored.
Recommended to Scribble by: Kris

I have quite some things to say and so little time in which to say these. And now we have the great year of Proust...it may be some time before these things are said, time being what it is, holidays being what they are, and my thoughts being scattered as usual.

So perhaps it's best to attempt the following:

Comparisons with Austen are appropriate for the social commentary and the (at times gently and perhaps not so gently snide) remarks the narrator makes about the actions of the characters. But t
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Jonathan
Amazing, astounding, supertastical, brilliant. These are all just a handful of the real (and created) adjectives at my disposal to throw at this book. However I believe that were I to get into an adjective war this book would defeat me hands down with the potency of the words inside. And having done so would commence to bury me in a pile of prose so powerful that I would be diabolically destroyed.

I loved this hauntingly beautiful book. It was well written with the careful and clear strokes of a
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Aubrey
Let us start at the beginning, shall we?

I've seen the Jane Austen comparisons, and for a while, that was the truest description of the book. Oh, you had your magic, but it was all very clean cut and bureaucratic and properly filed out in a mix of social gatherings and book references. All very English, is the closest I can get to a suitable description. And so I resigned myself to collecting witty quotes while perusing a charming yet not so remarkable tale of gentlemen magicians.

Lucky for me, th
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Will Byrnes
After a hiatus of several centuries since it was actively practiced, magic is back in early 19th century England. Clarke has created an alternate, magical history, in which England had once been divided between north and south, and a temporal and a fairy kingdom. Stuffy intellectuals satisfy themselves with studying the writings of the past, forming debating societies. But in 1807 a person emerges who dares to actually practice magic.

description
Eddie Marsden as Mr Norrell - from AMC networks

Mr Norrell is
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Tadiana ✩ Night Owl☽
Tadiana: This book is like a mashup of Jane Austen, or maybe Charles Dickens, and fantasy, with Regency-era British magicians and charming, vindictive and devious faeries. It creates an incredibly rich, complex and detailed fantasy world; the Raven King mythology is fantastic. The main plotline of this novel deals with the on-and-off friendship between two very different magicians: Mr Norrell, who is bookish, stuffy and reclusive, and Jonathan Strange, who's a younger, charming and impetuous per ...more
Colin
May 27, 2007 Colin rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anglophiles, historical fiction fans
Shelves: fiction
I'd heard for a long time how amazing this book was, and I was decidedly unmoved by it. I did read the whole thing, and at 800 pages, that felt like an accomplishment. Clarke obviously put a lot of work into the back story, creating an entire historical library of magic that is cited in footnotes throughout. That kind of detailed work is, i suppose, admirable. However, I found the two main characters (rich white English men) boring. I couldn't bring myself to really care what happened to them, a ...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jun 15, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who said they were too grown up for Harry Potter
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: rapturous goodreads reviews
The first adjectives which spring to mind when describing Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell are large, weighty, cumbersome, brickish, dense and leaden. Cheerfully these words relate to the 1006 page monster that this book is, not to the actual word content which is generally quite light, bright and breezy - I note some of the quoted reviewers within the printed brick said that this book had a sinister side. Well maybe, but only if you consider your own shadow slightly creepy and are scared by smal ...more
Terry
4 - 4.5 stars

Fantastic story. One of the few that actually lives up to the hype. Be warned though: this is a loooong book and it is true that, from one point of view at least, it can be said that not too much happens in it. The title tells us what the two main sections of the book will cover: the lives of the last two true magicians in an alternate 19th century Britain. They are the bookish, annoying and altogether full of himself Mr. Norrell and the flighty, brilliant and altogether full of him
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Maggie Stiefvater
This slow burn historical fantasy (it really isn't a proper historical fantasy -- it's really told much more as a straight historical and the fantasy is bonus) is one of the best novels I've read -- ever. Clarke never breaks voice or changes her slow, relentless pacing. It's a novel meant to be savored over the course of a month, not rushed through -- so that you can properly appreciate the rush of the climax.


***wondering why all my reviews are five stars? Because I'm only reviewing my favorite
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Kyle
This book represents, for me, everything that makes Goodreads great. I never heard of this book before coming to Goodreads. It was through connections with other people and becoming friends, and perhaps some passive-aggressive bullying (you know who you are!) that I finally found this book; it feels like it was tailor-made for me, and it has made my life feel richer.

I need to remember to maintain composure; I'm a gentleman, after all, and gentlemen must not make fools of themselves. There is a p
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Elizabeth
"I suppose a magician might kill a man by magic, but a gentleman never would."

No other sentence quite sums up the atmosphere of Strange & Norrell. The tale of the two men, who in the early years of the nineteenth century, were destined to bring magic back into England. Told at a beautifully measured pace, in the verbose Dickensian style, the book oozes atmosphere. Redolent with footnotes, the facsimile of a scientific memoir where science has been replaced with magic.

Much like the science
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Stephen
6.0 stars. On my list of "All Time Favorite" novels. Epic, brilliant, original, beautifully written story with incredible characters and a superb plot. An incredible achievement. Some have said this book started off slow, but it grabbed me from the start and I enjoyed every page. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!!

Winner: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (2005)
Winner: Locus Award for Best First Novel (2005)
Winner: World Fantasy Award for Best Novel (2005)
Winner: Mythopoeic Award for Best
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Clouds

Following the resounding success of my Locus Quest, I faced a dilemma: which reading list to follow it up with? Variety is the spice of life, so I’ve decided to diversify and pursue six different lists simultaneously. This book falls into my HUGO WINNERS list.

This is the reading list that follows the old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it". I loved reading the Locus Sci-Fi Award winners so I'm going to crack on with the Hugo winners next (but only the post-1980 winners, I'll follow up with
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Arah-Lynda
Tired of your workaday lives,

Need to get away for a while?

Come, sit a spell

Let Susanna tell you a story.




We go to England in the 1800’s, a time of the Napoleonic Wars, a time when most people believe magic to be dead in England. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell are two magicians attempting, each in their own way, to change that and restore magic to England.

I can admit that it took me a while to find my legs here, acquire my own rhythm with the writing and the story. In many ways this reads lik
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Kat  Hooper
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

Let me say two things about Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell:

1. This is one of the finest novels I have ever read. Ever.
2. You might hate it.

Okay, let me say more. I listened to this book on audio and, because of the language and humor, I was delighted from the very start. I listened for 32 hours and approximately 25 of those hours are rather slow. Interesting stuff happens, but nothing that's going to put you on the edge of your seat. It's leisurely and
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Kemper
I read this a few years back and felt the urge to revisit it after Lev Grossman cited it as a big influence on The Magicians. I’d forgotten how funny and sad it is at times. And I’d really forgotten how Mr. Norrell made me completely nuts while reading about him.

I’ve read books with evil characters who were serial killers or rapists or tortured small animals, but I don’t think anyone bothers me as much as Norrell. I mean, the guy buys all the freaking BOOKS and won’t let anyone else read them. A
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Petertpc
A long book told at a very leisurely pace with lots and LOTS footnotes. My verdict:

Possibly the finest fantasy novel I have ever read in my entire life.

I loved this novel from the very first pages where Ms. Clarke introduces us to her main characters and lays out the world of the novel, complete with fictional footnotes from fictional books about fictional people and places that felt anything but fictional. I thought the use of the footnotes was a genius. Once immersed in the novel I was just
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Katie
I place Susanna Clarke squarely in the company of Tolkien and Frank Herbert; that is, writers with the ability to imagine absolutely astounding fictional worlds - with incredibly rich and complete histories, cultures and people - but who don't have the skill to write down a compelling story. That's why enjoyed the movie versions of Dune and LOTR, but hated being forced to read them in written form. What Clarke has written here is a history book, a book that shows off the incredible world she has ...more
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Susanna Clarke was born in Nottingham in 1959. A nomadic childhood was spent in towns in Northern England and Scotland. She was educated at St Hilda's College, Oxford, and has worked in various areas of non-fiction publishing, including Gordon Fraser and Quarto. In 1990, she left London and went to Turin to teach English to stressed-out executives of the Fiat motor company. The following year she ...more
More about Susanna Clarke...
The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Jilid II Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Jilid I Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, Jilid III Drawing Down the Moon: The Art of Charles Vess

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“Can a magician kill a man by magic?” Lord Wellington asked Strange. Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. “I suppose a magician might,” he admitted, “but a gentleman never would.” 427 likes
“Time and I have quarrelled. All hours are midnight now. I had a clock and a watch, but I destroyed them both. I could not bear the way they mocked me.” 194 likes
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