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371 pages, Hardcover
First published September 1, 2015
It's never a good sign when it takes well over 150 pgs to get the story started....really...truly not.
"We are a laughingstock - a nation of hundreds of enchanters, and nothing to enchant with."So there's another reason to hate Zarcharias. The magic is drying up and the Sorcerer Royal can't magically fix it.
Nothing disgusted a thaumaturge so much as a witchHe visits what passes as a school for witches, and finds one far stronger than he ever expected.
She was no great reader, and her choice was written in so laborious a style that that she found herself rereading the same page several times, without absorbing any of the sense.It took AT LEAST four times as long to say anything in this book. FOUR. TIMES.
"I understand Miss Gentleman will venture to find herself a husband, and only desires assistance in gaining access to the best society.Essentially, Prunella spends the first half of the book as an obstinent young woman.
It seems impossible these days to find any truly pretty girls; it makes even a dark little thing like Miss Gentleman seem a phoenix."...which brings us to my last point:
"Magicians are obstinate creatures, but they can be persuaded, and they esteem power above all things."Okay, so I'm all for a book that rips down stereotypes and empowers people.
Though he had never doubted his guardian’s attachment, being Sir Stephen’s protégé had at times felt like being a touring attraction—a dancing bear on its lead.
"You ought to have considered me, but no one ever does, and it puts me in an impossible position!”
Henrietta stamped her foot, her grey eyes drowned in green light.
“I will teach you a lesson for that!” she cried. “How dare you call him my precious Mr. Wythe! How dare you say I am in l-love!”
When Prunella entered the classroom, Clarissa Midsomer was trying to bang Emily Villiers’s head against a desk. Emily was resisting this, screeching in a manner fit to bring the ceiling down.
Flanked by fish-faced guardsmen, the Fairy King lounged upon his throne . . .
“It would be an end to all peace if they returned,” he said, with a sigh. “We should give them our first-born child if that would persuade them to stay away. Indeed, we made the offer, but they would not look at poor Cuthbert."
To her surprise Prunella found that she was still attached to Mrs. Daubeney. She would never trust her again—no! But one could nonetheless be very fond of someone in whom one had no confidence whatsoever.
A fine line appeared between Prunella’s eyebrows. “Did not Sir Stephen purchase your parents as well?”
“No,” said Zacharias. “Presumably he did not discern the same potential [for magic] in them.”
The statement brought up the old anger and confusion, followed by the accustomed guilt, that he should be so ungrateful as to resent the man who had rescued him from bondage. And yet he did resent Sir Stephen, even now.
“I don’t see why you feel obliged to him at all,” said Prunella. “What right had he to part you from your parents when you were so young?”
Her words seemed to echo Zacharias’s own thoughts, thoughts he had suppressed many a time, striving to feel the unclouded gratitude expected of him. What might his life have been, with a father and mother? It could not have cost Sir Stephen very much to purchase them as well—certainly not enough to strain his ample resources. How could his benevolence have extended so far as to move him to free Zacharias, but no further?
But it had been impossible to ask these questions of Sir Stephen or Lady Wythe, whose affection could not be doubted. That Zacharias’s own love for them was leavened with anger was best left unsaid; he tried not to know it himself.
“Very probably I would have been separated from my parents in any event,” he said. “What assurance can I feel that my parents were not in time separated from each other, against their will, and they powerless to prevent it?”
The answers to these questions were too painful to pursue to their conclusion, even in thought. They had only ever served to increase the complicated unhappiness that lay in wait whenever he thought of his parents.
“He spoke the spell under his breath, still a little uncertain after the agonies he had endured. But magic came, ever his friend—magic answered his call.”
“In truth magic had always had a slightly un-English character, being unpredictable, heedless of tradition and profligate with its gifts to high and low.”
“Magic was too strong a force for women’s frail bodies—too potent a brew for their weak minds—and so, especially at a time when everyone must be anxious to preserve what magical resource England still possessed, magic must be forbidden to women.”
“Your amoral ingenuity in the pursuit of your interest is perfectly shocking,” said Zacharias severely.
“Yes, isn’t it?” said Prunella, pleased.
““Why, all the greatest magic comes down to blood,” said Mak Genggang. “And who knows blood better than a woman?”
”Can you conceive of anything more absurd? [...] He might as well seek to persuade us that a pig can fly--or a woman can do magic!”
The friend observed that so could pigs fly, if one could be troubled to make them.
“Oh, certainly!” replied the first. “And one could teach a woman to do magic, I supposed, but what earthly good would a flying pig or a magical female be to anyone?”
"I would not have been rescued from my bondage if not for Sir Stephen’s conviction that he could make of me something extraordinary. I was told that I must prove the African’s ability to English thaumaturgy."As a pioneer in diversity, Zacharias is tasked with the responsibility of the magical reputation of his entire race. Prunella faces similar issues, but she is far less willing to accept such an unfair burden and instead uses all the ”amoral ingenuity” she possesses to remove such obstacles in her path.