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Sorcerer to the Crown

(Sorcerer Royal #1)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  9,544 ratings  ·  2,083 reviews
Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

Hardcover, 371 pages
Published September 1st 2015 by Ace
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Jen Yes, but it's the sort of romance you'd expect to find in a Jane Austen book and it is not the main plot.

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3.75  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,544 ratings  ·  2,083 reviews

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Miranda Reads
Jul 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: paperback, ya-series
It's never a good sign when it takes well over 150 pgs to get the story started....really...truly not.

This book dragged.

Nothing really worked for me. Nothing. If I could get that time back, I would. I want it back so much.

THE PREMISE - aka not a bad start

The British elite conquest consist of magicians (called thaumaturges) who are racist, sexist and all have all sorts of petty, bullying behavior. They are all jerks.

And they are all pissed.

Why? The new Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias Wythe, inher
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
Feb 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes the sound of Ann-with-an-e + P&P + hilarity + fantasy
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

I tried to read SORCERER TO THE CROWN by Zen Cho THREE separate times, and had pretty much given it up for lost when I decided to give it one . . . more . . . chance.

Many, many thanks to friend and fellow Ace Roc Star Anne at The Book Nympho , whose review influenced this decision. *tips hat*

The beginning is slow, no getting around it. Even if I hadn't been reading mostly high-octane, action-packed urban fantasy in the weeks prior to my first attempts, I think I still wo
Althea Ann
Sep 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Not at all what I expected! And it was great!

From the cover art, the title, and the length of the book I was expecting a weighty, Asia-tinged fantasy epic. Nope!

It may be long - but I zipped through it in a day. And - it's hilarious.
As the comments below indicate, yes, comparisons with Susanna Clarke's 'Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell' are unavoidable. The settings are very similar: an old-timey London inhabited by a society of stuffy and aristocratic magicians. There are also incursions of Fai
Sherwood Smith
Copy provided by NetGalley

There have been a plethora of fantasy-romances-in-the-Regency of late, not surprising considering there's a good chance that a lot of these authors grew up reading Georgette Heyer, and possibly Jane Austen. Except for Susanna Clarke, I don't find Austen's sharp characterization, wit, or style of satire in any of them, however there's a strong feel of Heyer's mix of modernity and her idiosyncratic version of Regency era language in most, and I think that the homage to He
Mogsy (MMOGC)
4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

So many comparisons have already been made to describe Sorcerer to the Crown, and I’m going to chime in too with “This feels like epic fantasy for fans of Gail Carriger.” Zen Cho has created a world here that’s reminiscent of Austen meets Tolkien, yet at the same time it’s so wonderfully adaptable that pigeonholing this book into any one category makes it feel a bit remiss.

A Regency setting is what you will get though, eve
Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
Oct 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who have not read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
Shelves: fantasy, 1-star-reads, y-a
I picked up Sorcerer to the Crown because I heard it was strikingly reminiscent of one of my favourite fantasy books, the wonderful Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Suasana Clarke.

Such a thing is this book’s greatest asset and also its downfall. Perhaps my rating of this would have been slightly higher had I read first. Though when reading all I saw was how the book had drawn from a much better book. Cho’s setting and world building are adequate, but again I was imagining them in relation to
This review originally appeared on my blog, Shoulda, Coulda, Woulda Books.

Man, I hope the writer of this book was cackling as she wrote this. That's how I pictured her, especially as the book wore on, just sitting there, rubbing her hands and laughing as she typed, going, "Ooooh, I know what I'll do to them now!" I mean, that's what I would have been doing as I wrote this. I don't know if I could have restrained myself, because I would have been very pleased with just how clever I was. Maybe she
May 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Delightful books are delightful.

I am completely, utterly enamoured with Sorcerer to the Crown, Zen Cho’s first novel. A wonderful and charming book that pays homage to Regency romances and Fantasy novels at the same time that interrogates some of the problematic aspects of those genres in regards to race and gender. It’s like this book was written for me.

Zacharias Whyte is a freed slave and a talented magician who just so happens to have recently become Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophe

Rating, 3 stars. (more ranting than review)

It started promising, with little Zacharias Wythe showing the Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, that he is a worthy apprentice to Sir Stephen Wythe, despite the color of his skin. Years have passed and following the death of Sir Stephen, Zacharias takes his place of Sorcerer Royal, something that because of his origins doesn't sit well with the majority of the thaumaturges (magicians/sorcerers).
Zacharias was born a slave. Sir Stephen saw someth
This sneaky little book is a sneaking sneakster. It sneaks right up on you, and you love it before you realize what's happening.

I actually read this book way before I meant to. I realized on my drive to Phoenix a couple of weeks ago that I was quickly going to run out of Pride and Prejudice audiobook, and I didn't have a replacement on deck. Good old public library and OneClickDigital had this puppy featured, and I wanted to read it anyway, so why not?

It was a bit hard to get into at first. I k
Sherwood Smith
Copy provided by NetGalley

There have been a plethora of fantasy-romances-in-the-Regency of late, not surprising considering there's a good chance that a lot of these authors grew up reading Georgette Heyer, and possibly Jane Austen. Except for Susanna Clarke, I don't find Austen's sharp characterization, wit, or style of satire in any of them, however there's a strong feel of Heyer's mix of modernity and her idiosyncratic version of Regency era language in most, and I think that the homage to He
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
(based on an advance copy obtained from the publisher)

Magic, manners and dragons in Recency England--this alone would be awesome, but Zen Cho adds a veneer of comment on English colonial politics: the two main characters are POCs struggling to find a place in a highly hierarchical English society, and not always succeeding. Oh, and romance, and aunties, and Malaysian vampires; and plenty of hilarious sharp one-liners as sorcerer to the crown Zacharias and impoverished gentlewoman Prudence lock h
2.5 stars, rounding up because this is not a bad book, far from it actually. It's just not right for me.

I don't want to be unduly harsh, but I do have to be honest. So here goes.

It's a complete surprise to me that, of all the books I struggled to read last month, this one was the hardest to get through. If this had not been a buddy read, I'm pretty sure it would have been my first DNF of the year.

Not because it's a difficult read or there were issues with the writing or anything like that--ever
Nov 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
This magical, fantastical, witty comedy of manners meets magical fairyland is so fun to read. There is much foreshadowing to provide plenty of excitement and anticipation for the sequel which has not yet been published. For all it’s playfulness, there is also an underlining seriousness to this novel. This has to do with the politics of Britain and the treatment of women and people of color. In fairyland, race does not matter, it is not even noticed. Likewise, in fairyland, women are equally adep ...more
Oct 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Let's just get it out there - OMG!

This book is beautiful inside and out. The cover design is luxurious loveliness and the contents within - they're even better.

Sorcerer to the Crown takes us back to the early 19th century for a tale of fantastical courtly intrigue the Royal Society of Magicians (well, Thaumaturges, but whatever). Despite it's traditional fantasy setting of ye olde Europe this book falls far from trad fantasy tree. It's diverse, clever, doesn't get bogged down in ridiculously c
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Set in a Regency style Britain. An enjoyable and farcical magic infused romp. The author uses the language of the Regency period very well (says I, who gets all her ideas about Regency phrases from Georgette Heyer novels - therefore an expert!). It has similarities in tone to Novak's Temeraire series.
The main characters suffer from the racist attitudes and gender inequality of the times as well as setting the magical world to rights as open to all, not just the priviledged. Sorcerers, magicians,
Mary Robinette Kowal
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: recommend, fantasy
I wish I'd written this book.
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Zacharias looked around, but everyone had ceased to pay attention to him. For the moment he was reprieved.
He let out a small sigh of relief. As if that tiny breath were the key to his locked memory, his mind opened, and the spell fell into it, fully formed. The words were so clear and obvious, their logic so immaculate, that Zacharias wondered that he had ever lost them.
He spoke the spell under his breath, still a little uncertain after the agonies he had endured. But magic came, ever his friend
Sep 17, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
This is a very delicate story. I truly appreciated the writing style and the hyperbolic characters, the novelty of integrated people of foreign birth as protagonists and all the little idiosyncrasies of this alternative Regency London society.

I agree that the atmosphere, the presence of an association of thaumaturges, fairies and a crisis regarding English magic are reminiscent of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (I’ve not read the book, only watched the TV show). This said, while this story ha
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
In Sorcerer to the Crown, comedy of manners meets fairyland, and the result is pure unadulterated fun. The story takes place in an alternate reality where magic, once a primary occupation in the best of families, is slowly falling out of favour as England’s atmospheric magic dries up. While the nonmagical part of society may be preoccupied by their victories and failures in the Napoleonic war, magical society is engrossed by scandal. Sir Stephen, the old Sorcerer to the Crown, has died under mys ...more
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-read
I thought this was really entertaining. It was like Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but with a strong female character and all the boring parts taken out.
Apr 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bechdel-pass
This book is extremely good fun. It sends up the imperialist, masculinist, racist and class-fixated culture of Regency England superbly while weaving an intricate and satisfying fantasy plot around deeply sympathetic central characters. I especially liked how different cultures have different magical philosophies and theories.
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Set in an alternate historical Regency England where magicians hold a place of prestige in society, Sorcerer to the Crown has prose that reflects the novel’s antiquated setting combined with the pacing of a highly engaging adventure. With significant themes including isolation and prejudice, it is definitely a thought-provoking novel, but Cho’s sense of the whimsical and her often light-hearted storytelling ensure that it is a quick and easy read. Though this book is often compared to Susanna Cl ...more
This is a book I was very kindly sent for review by PanMacmillan after asking because the premise intrigued me, however this does not in any way affect my review :)

My first impression upon seeing this book was that the cover itself is flawlessly stunning. I thought that the book looked beautiful, and when I read the blurb it also sounded really quite wonderful. This is a story not unlike Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell in its premise (although later on it does go more its own way). The story is
Elizabeth Bear
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sly, witty, and playful. This political fantasy is a great deal of fun.
May 19, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dropped-series
I really enjoyed Zen Cho's other work, her novella "The Terracotta Bride" was very impressive for such a short story. This book, however, was very different from it and not in a good way, in my opinion. The Regency era setting was rather well done, but the writing and especially the wording itself was overly complicated and even annoying at times because it messed with the flow of the story. It's hard to enjoy the narrative when you have to get through some hardcore vocabulary to understand it. ...more
Rose Lerner
Sep 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was an absolute delight from start to finish. The comparison to Heyer and Susanna Clarke is super apt, I really felt like I was reading a Heyer but without all the annoying stuff, and also there was magic and magic swashbuckling and husband hunting and forceful older ladies who IN SOME CASES are also dragons. It was that feeling of light banter-y goodness with plenty of just-hinted-at angst. I loved every character, everything was perfect, READ IT. Zachary is my darling and Prunella is ...more
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing

What a DELIGHT of a novel. I hate using the words "charming" and "quirky" in reviews, but THIS WAS SO CHARMING AND BRILLIANT. Regency England plus dragons plus Malaysian witches. Eat your heart out, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell!

This took me a couple chapters to get into, as I'm completely out of practice in reading anything convincingly Regency in flavor, but then it really takes off and goes in a few really wonderful directions. Zacharias and Prunella are both entirely engaging pro
Feb 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, review-copy
Review from Tenacious Reader:

Sorcerer to the Crown was a wonderful escape, a book that really takes you to a different time and place. One that is fraught with etiquette and expectations. Expectations that dictate what one should, and of course what one should not do. Then, to make things more interesting, layer in magic, ghosts, fae and familiars and you get quite a delightful and intriguing read. This world is not perfect. Far from it, actually, and som
Apr 13, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
An entertaining & whimsical Regency fantasy. It is very reminiscent of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, albeit without the depth of story or character. Though that is not to say that the characters are not vivid & entertaining - I quite enjoyed my time with the Sorcerer Royal, Zacharias (a man born into slavery and saved for his magical skill), and Prunella Gentleman, our feisty heroine. A half-Indian woman of immense magical talent, she comes into her own under the tutelage of an Indon ...more
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I'm a Malaysian fantasy writer based in London. I've written a novel called Sorcerer to the Crown about magic, intrigue and politics in Regency London; a sequel about cursed sisters, anticolonial witches, dapper dragon dandies and murderous fairies called The True Queen; and a short story collection called Spirits Abroad. Plus some other stuff! I've won a British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer an ...more

Other books in the series

Sorcerer Royal (3 books)
  • The True Queen (Sorcerer Royal, #2)
  • Untitled (Sorcerer Royal, #3)
“Your amoral ingenuity in the pursuit of your interest is perfectly shocking,” said Zacharias severely. “Yes, isn’t it?” said Prunella, pleased.” 28 likes
“But that was the trouble with children, Sir Stephen reflected. They were confoundedly liable to pattern themselves upon one’s conduct, when one would rather they simply did what they were told.” 16 likes
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