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Mairelon the Magician

(Mairelon #1)

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  8,563 ratings  ·  347 reviews
Kim doesn't hesitate when a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into the travelling magician's wagon in search of a silver bowl. Kim isn't above a bit of breaking-and-entering. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London-disguised as a boy -has schooled her in one hard lesson: steal from them before they steal from you.
But there is something odd about t
312 pages
Published by Turtleback Books (first published February 10th 1991)
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Average rating 3.99  · 
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 ·  8,563 ratings  ·  347 reviews

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May 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw that someone on my Goodreads list had put this book up and I thought, "Hey, I think I have that on my shelf somewhere." Sure enough, it was there. I don't know where I got it, I've had it for years and never read it. It was either something I inherited from my mom's collection of books when she was downsizing or it was a gift from my aunt who is a librarian and has given me many cool books over the years.

Anyway, one night Seth and I were looking for something to read aloud together. We had
This book felt so thoroughly mediocre. Which is unusual, I think. Most books have something that make them stand out more (in good or bad ways!), but this felt like just a collection of things that I like well enough, but that never became more than that.

Like, Regency era with magic! Orphan girl falls in with mysterious magician! But it never really sparked for me. There was stuff that was supposed to be all farce-like, but . . . it's not even that it felt flat. It was just THERE. Mediocre.

Oh we
First Second Books
Regency heist capers! This book is amazing -- magic and manners all wrapped up into an amazing package filled with thieves cant and not a single person who is what they seem.

I love this book! It's a perfect winter reread.
Suzanne Vincent
I wish I had a ton of good things to say about Mairelon the Magician, but I don't. In fact, I did something with this book that I have NEVER done with a book before--I gave up on it in the middle of the climax.

*If you aren't interested in scathing reviews, stop here!*

I had just slogged through a cliched 'gather all the usual suspects into one room' scene that was loooooong, boring, and confusing, with a good dozen characters (many of them called by more than one name) running around in the dark,
Denae Christine
I was quite disappointed with this book, mostly because I loved PCW's Enchanted Forest Chronicles and this book wasn't nearly as good. It had loads of potential, with Kim going from gutter thief to a crime-solving magician. But it didn't deliver.

1st, it was third person, and I feel the story would have been stronger from inside Kim's head. Do much of the story is about the old guy Mairelon anyway, and I wish the story was actually about the main character instead.
2nd, Mairelon seems like a girl'
When Kim is caught snooping in the wagon of a traveling illusionist, she's shocked that her target reacts by offering her a job. Helping Mairelon on stage sounds like the perfect way of getting out of town for a bit, but it soon becomes clear that the man she's joined up with is no ordinary performer.

This one got off to a promising start with Kim's introduction to Mairelon and her encounters on the streets of a fantasy-world London. It's a little coincidence-heavy and I feel like I've read one t
Christina White
Wow, I haven't disliked a book this much in a really long time. There were too many characters and I just had no desire to keep track of them. The dialog was horrible and page after page was filled with what could have been said in less than one. I broke down and decided to skim read and then just started skipping whole pages. I would pick a page and read a few lines here and there to try and catch on what was happening and it was the same for about 50 pages!

"You have the platter??" "No.. I have
This book is one of my main comfort reads. The writing is a little rough in patches (you can tell this is one of Wrede's earlier books), but Kim's voice is so fantastic that it lives in my head for days after I finish reading it, and Mairelon's character is adorably exasperating. They're one of my favorite fantasy duos, and I wish Wrede had written more than just two books for them! Full of vivid characters and, in Kim's words, "better than a Drury Lane comedy" for sheer farcical absurdity, this ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regency
This was a fun story and yet, if you are familiar with Patricia C. Wrede, it feels a bit like...every other Patricia C. Wrede book you've read. Especially Sorcery and Cecelia. Lots of convoluted thieving cant, ridiculous characters, and an improbable climax all designed to heighten the absurdity of the situation. I think if I read this book years ago I would have enjoyed it more. As it is, I saw some traces of Georgette Heyer and some elements of fun but never quite fell in love with it.
I do lik
Mar 09, 2014 rated it liked it
I desperately wanted to give this four stars, but the ending happened. By Jove, that was tedious.

The protagonist? FABULOUS. Kim was interesting and fun and didn't take any crap. Mairelon was enjoyable and his character complemented Kim's adorably. I ship it.

The problem was that their relationship was often pushed aside for a wordy, often confusing, and slightly boring mystery plot that culminated in one of the most boring couple of chapters I've ever had the displeasure of reading. For the first
David Ottenstein
Dec 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. After the good reviews I thought I might go into it expecting a little much, but it delivered.

The protagonist was sympathetic and developed well during the story. The antagonists were quite dislikable, in a likable sort of way for an antagonist. That may sound strange, but I've read way too many books where the bad guys were just bad and that was all. There was some development here, and I appreciated it.

Not exactly what I was expecting, but well done a
2019 bk 413. A joyful revisit of a title from 1991. This was so different from her other fantasy books (at the time) and it took a bit to sink in what was really happening, but once it sunk in, it brought me to a delight in the magical regency books genre. Mairelon the Magician seeks to clear his name, he has spent years on the continent, supposedly in disgrace for theft of items from the Royal College of Wizards. He had spent that time spying for England and learning spycraft while learning mor ...more
I'm actually reading the omnibus edition of both books 1 & 2, A Matter of Magic (which has the MOST BEAUTIFUL COVER!!). But something in me bristles at the idea of writing a combined review for two books, so logging separate editions it is!

So, Mairelon the Magician. I LOVED Patricia Wrede's Dealing with Dragons, so I was expecting a sort of similar airy witty writing? It's aimed at an older audience with more complex prose, but that just meant the writing is denser and more convoluted, and I fo
Karen Keyte
Almost 17 (at least as near as she can tell), Kim has spent all of her life on the streets of London, living disguised as a boy and struggling just to survive. An orphan with no other means to support herself, Kim once belonged to a family of thieves but an unfortunate run-in with the law has left her more alone than ever, her taste for 'the cracking lay' utterly destroyed. Now she gets by as best she can, so she doesn't hesitate to take a commission to break into a street magician's wagon just ...more
Mar 01, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of Socery and Cecelia
Kim has played the part of a thieving boy for most of her life, hiding her gender being the safer alternative to revealing herself as a girl in the dark underbelly of Regency London. But she knows this career path will soon come to an end, as at seventeen she is quickly outgrowing her disguise. When a job leads her into Mairelon the magician’s wagon, she finds real magic and an opportunity to become someone new.

Following Mairelon as he flees from the city, she quickly finds herself lost in a plo
I'll try to review this in full later, but for now:

I read this as part of the A Matter of Magic set, which has this and the next book in 1 volume; since I'm not done reading A Matter of Magic, and don't know when I'll get back to it, I'll just talk about this individually for now.

Basically, I love Patricia C Wrede. She writes characters that I just adore, and this - mostly - was no exception. Everything was going along swimmingly until suddenly it WASN'T.

I'm giving this a 4 because I'm setting
Mary Catelli
In an alternate Regency, Kim is scouting out a wagon where an itinerant magician is performing his tricks. Once she knows how long he is out, she goes inside to check what he's got, a spying mission a real toff sent her on. When she tries to open one chest, a ward explodes, and she thinks she should have asked for more money, since she hit on a real wizard.

When she rouses again, the wizard and his servant have caught her. Whereupon the wizard takes her on, over the servant's objection (there are
An Odd1
Nov 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fun, fantasy
"Mairelon the Magician" (1), by Patricia Wrede (already 5* for Dragon series), is a warm witty clever wizard masquerading as a caravan amateur, who plays sculptor Pygmalion to train 17ish boyish pauper Kim. To clear the toff's name, they seek a set of enspelled silver dishes and original London thieves from five years ago. I got a tad annoyed, tangled in names and relationships, shifty and silly shenanigans, lost track who said who did what where. How could interfering Lady Granleigh decide "qui ...more
L (Sniffly Kitty)
I loved the Dragon series by Wrede, and I was hoping the same kind of wit and charm those books had would be brought to this novel. Unfortunately, this is a somewhat forgettable book (as a few days after reading it I can no longer recall much detail.

The main character Kim dresses as a boy and does various odd jobs to earn money. It was somewhat amusing to follow this character albeit only in a somewhat superficial manner. Mairelon, the other "main" character seemed a bit perfect but at least had
Mar 13, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Oh the potential! Regency era from the perspective of a female London street urchin turned magician's apprentice. But then said urchin never does anything. She literally just watches things happen. And I couldn't keep the characters straight because there were about 57 of them, the majority of which seemed to be upper class 20ish white men. ...more
A fun story, but certainly not comparable to Diana Wynne Jones's work, and not as well written as Wrede's Dealing with Dragons.

My main beef with the book was that it treated the readers like they were stupid and had to have every little thing explained to them, and to do this it sacrificed character integrity. When your main characters are supposed to be smart, having them alternately play dumb with each other just to explain things to the reader (things the reader doesn't even need explained)
A solid, if not terribly demanding or ground breaking fantasy set in a roughly Victorian England with functional - if not terribly common - magic.
Our hero(ine) Kim has grown up on the streets of London, but is nearing the end of her ability to pretend boyhood as her nutritionally delayed puberty finally rears its unwelcome head. Scared straight from a life of petty crime after her guardian hangs, she has spent the last couple of years surviving on what little she can earn honestly. Desperate fo
Lynn Spencer
Sep 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Kim, a street child who disguises herself as a boy for her own safety, meets up with the traveling magician Mairelon when she is hired to look around his wagon and gather information. Mairelon catches her and the two end up joining forces on a quest to recover a magical artifact.

This tale, set in an alternate Regency England where magic is very much alive and well, sounded different and promising. Parts of it do feel fresh and different, as we see the magic Kim and Mairelon encounter on their tr
Oct 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really fun to follow and such an enjoyable heroine!

poverty, mentions of sexual harassment, sexism (challenged), violence, death, sweet Polly Oliver trope.
Apr 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kim is a street thief unable to resist the promise of five pounds to rifle through a street magician's wagon to see if he has a particular silver bowl. But what she hadn't counted on was the real magic trapping part of his wagon, nor the fact that the magician in question is an amicable sort who offers to hire her rather than turn her over to the police. Mairelon isn't what he seems---but neither is Kim, who disguises herself as a boy to avoid the whorehouse. And as the mysteries deepen, both Ki ...more
Kim has lived on the streets her whole life and is sharp and cunning as they come. Disguised as a boy, she lives by her wits, doing what she can to survive. When a wealthy gentleman offers her a large sum of money to case a street magician's wagon, Kim thinks it will be an easy job. She gets more than she bargained for when she becomes involved with Mairelon the Magician. Soon, Kim is on the run with Mairelon as they search for the magical Saltash Set of dinnerware and uncover a plot that could ...more
I read this book on a lark, hoping to finish all I can by this child-hood favorite author. And then I was happily surprised to see some of my favorite plot elements mixed together: street thieves, London in the olden days (no specific dates given, but before industry), street magicians, real occult magic, a gypsy wagon and then a mystery tossed in for fun.

I do wish that there had been more of Kim's former life as a street thief included here, as well as more illusion magic but the rest of the b
Feb 22, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, wishlist
This book is a fun, fast-paced regency novel, with strong wit and creativity. I love the cast of characters, and the way Wrede manages to flow seamlessly from "theives cant" to standard English throughout the story.

The plot was a bit confusing, however, and the fact that the climax took about five chapters to explain made the ending rather...anti-climatic? It's a good book, but one of the rare cases where the sequel well out-shines the original - "Magician's Ward", the next in the series, is abs
Lekhana Gogineni
I was going to give this book four stars--probably should have given it four stars--but it appealed to my humorous nature. At times this book was so damn funny I'd have to stop reading and laugh for a solid ten minutes before I started again. Most of this book was like watching a comedic soap opera happening where you love to make fun of the characters. I also finished it in the same day I started reading it--even if it was short--I didn't do any of my homework, which is going to take another ho ...more
One of my all time favorite books from Wrede, I keep this one constantly loaded on my nook. Kim is a girl on the streets masquerading as a boy and takes a job to break into a street magician's wagon...only to discover he's a real magician.

As always Wrede gives real attention to all her characters minor and major and the dialogue feels genuine and the banter is enjoyable. I come back to the book frequently and love it every time.
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Patricia Collins Wrede was born in Chicago, Illinois and is the eldest of five children. She started writing in seventh grade. She attended Carleton College in Minnesota, where she majored in Biology and managed to avoid taking any English courses at all. She began work on her first novel, Shadow Magic, just after graduating from college in 1974. She finished it five years later and started her se ...more

Other books in the series

Mairelon (2 books)
  • Magician's Ward (Mairelon, #2)

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45 likes · 4 comments
“Well?' Jasper said when Mairelon did not reply. 'Who are you?'
'No, no,' Mairelon said. 'I asked you first. I also, if you recall, asked how you found this place and what you intend to do here, and you haven't told me that, either.'
'We might ask you the same thing,' Jasper retorted.
'You might, but I don't recommend it,' Mairelon said. 'You'll get a reputation as a poor conversationalist if you all can do is repeat what other people say to you.”
“Master Richard!” Hunch’s voice was not loud, but it expressed volumes of scandalized disapproval.
Mairelon paused and looked up. “What is it?”
“You ain’t going to just—” Hunch stopped and looked at Kim. “Not with ‘er standing there!”
“Oh, is that all that’s bothering you?” Mairelon looked at Kim and grinned. “Turn your back, child; you’re offending Hunch’s proprieties.”
Kim flushed, as much from surprise as embarrassment, and turned away. “I ain’t no child,” she muttered under her breath.
“Under the circumstances, that’s so much the worse,” Mairelon replied cheerfully.”
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