Books I Loathed discussion

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Loathed Titles > Strange and Morrell (Jonathan Strange and Dr. Norrell)

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message 1: by ScottK (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

ScottK I think that was the name of it ...I can't remeber much having just come out of my coma induced by trying to read that book. I am sure you all know the one I am talking about,the english wizards .......Yeah. Lets just say it is bad when you can't even get through the first chapter without skipping lines/paragraphs.


message 2: by Maryam (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Maryam | 2 comments Oh, I loved this book! It does take a lot of patience to read through but the footnotes are sooo clever and funny. But I can completely understand hating it...my husband couldn't get through the first few pages, and he reads the 10 thousand page Robert Jordan books.


message 3: by Alex (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Alex (alexinmadison) | 64 comments Oh dear god...who is Robert Jordan and why is he writing 10K page books? That's just not right.


message 4: by Jessica (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:57AM) (new)

Jessica I never finished this, though I got about halfway through it. It wasn't that I didn't like it -- I did, there was a lot to it that I thought was quite wonderful, actually. But I think it was just too weighty, literally and figuratively. The pacing was glacial, and it takes itself so seriously. From time to time I see it on the shelf and think I should pick it up again, but then I realize I'd have to re-read most of it to remember what was happening when I left off, and that makes me tired.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Sarah: I read it and I liked it an awful bunch, but it certainly helps that I'm a giant nerd. Clarke reportedly spent 10 years researching for this novel and it shows. JS & MN intersects beautifully with British history and her portayal of the Napoleonic wars and the Duke of Wellington was nothing short of fantastic.

It's kind of a funky comparison to Harry. Aside from the "magic in Britain" angle, they're pretty different. I'd probably suggest the Bartimeus trilogy if you're looking for something more akin to HP.






message 6: by Caroline (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:59AM) (new)

Caroline I loved Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrel, although I'll admit the beginning was very slow to get through. It isn't until about midway through the book that the plot really begins to take off, which is a shame since that's a lot of pages to get through so I imagine a lot of people also gave up on it.

And it's a real shame that the marketing early on for it was "the Harry Potter for adults," since that really attracted the wrong group of people to it. It's way closer to being Charles Dickens than anything Harry Potter. Like Steve said, the only real resemblance between HP and this is the "magic in Britain" bit. So people that would have enjoyed a Dickens-style narrative with magic didn't really hear about it, and people that wanted something like Harry Potter for adults were disappointed.


message 7: by Jammies (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:59AM) (new)

Jammies I enjoyed this one, and recommended it to a couple of friends. I liked that the ending wasn't a conventional happy ending, and I loved the way Clarke wove magic into history.

I also agree that it's not for everyone, and it starts off slowly.


message 8: by Jackie (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:00PM) (new)

Jackie | 27 comments I started this book and my goal was to reach triple digits--page 100 at least. By that time, I realized that the only motivation I could possibly conceive of that would keep me turning pages is to find out what happened to the pinky. If you read the book, you will know what I mean.

It wasn't enough. I gave up. I apologize--I love being the person who enjoyed books others dismissed, but . . .

I loved "The Sound and the Fury" and in fact, flipped back to page 1 to reread after I finished this one. Completely off-topic, but I thought I'd offer it in my defense. (c;


message 9: by Nikki (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:19PM) (new)

Nikki | 1 comments I forced myself to finish this while queueing for Robbie Williams-Tickets for five hours :) I do not shrink back from huge books and I know that many take some time to "take off" and get you really immersed. However I could never get fully immersed in this, I just lose patience.


message 10: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:20PM) (new)

Seth I read this one mostly in one epic sitting. The story moves slowly and I didn't find the ending satisfying (the actual ending--how things wind up--was fine, it was the final few chapters that didn't work for me), but getting there was fun.

The on-again/off-again friendship/antagonism between the title characters was good enough to keep me going, but the book really relies on asides. Strange takes an extended break to travel with the British Army against the French on the continent, for example. That kind of plotting turns a lot of people off.

Also, the book could easily have been broken up into several complete, well-structured noves almost by cutting it at chapter breaks. It would have ruined--well, altered--the flow and "Victorian" feel, though. I'm glad Clarke didn't try that. But again, modern readers (including me) appreciate a shorter paragraph, single subject novel most of the time.

The main thing that saved the book for me, though, was some truly pyrotechnic writing. Whether you like the book, hate the book, stopped on page 3, or never tried it, take another look at chapter 3, The Stones of York. It is central to the plot, but it reads perfectly well as a short story and the writing and it reads beautifully and evocatively. It is smooth and breezy in the right places, clumsy in the right places, and rushes just fast enough to leave the reader as distracted as the characters. And it's description of the magic--subtle and disturbing at first, then growing to profound and epic while still staying local and personal--is as good a description of how magic feels and affects characters as any in fantasy.

One way to try the book might be to stop when you come to one of these and take a break. They don't need to be read all at once and as long as you remember the four or five major characters (Strange, Norrel, a woman who appears in a later chapter, a few special manservants, and maybe a general) you don't need to keep it all in your head.

Then again, it isn't essential reading. It's just well-written fun for those who like the style.


message 11: by Christina (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new)

Christina | 17 comments I am currently struggling with this book. I had wanted to read this book for a long time as I like books with some weight to them (not including Robert Jordan by the way), but this is pushing my limits.

I truly enjoyed Chapter 3 and just finished the chapter about the cunning manservant. I do hope the pace picks up a bit, because I don't want to find myself asking "what's the point."

Seth, I may take your advice and put it aside when it gets plodding again. I hate to have any book unfinished (except for Confessions of a Shopaholic).


message 12: by L (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

L (lj67) | 1 comments Okay, so I'm not the only one. I tried to read this. It sounded very compelling, but it was just impossible to get through and I gave up after struggling one page at a time each night (and I'm an insomniac, so I'll plod through most of anything).


message 13: by Ann M (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:22PM) (new)

Ann M | 39 comments There is no point. It's pure entertainment. It wasn't bad, but I felt I had wasted my time. If you aren't enjoying it, put it down permanently. The ride is all it is.


message 14: by Seth (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:23PM) (new)

Seth The love story picks things up a little. Of course, it starts about halfway into the doorstop. The whole "don't deal with the Fey" bit is prettymuch standard fare and you'll see the trap coming a mile away (it's a well-known classic), but it works well enough.

I agree that it isn't essential reading, though. It's fun for some, not for others. Let it go if you don't like it.

If you want a doorstop well worth reading, pick up the Zimiamvia books (E.R. Eddison--but again not to many's taste) or the Malazan series (Stephen Erikson--amazingly good big messy fantasy).

I've never talked anyone into reading all three of the Zimiamvia books (1940s writing emulating 1890s writing and a story combining out-of-date virtues with Spinozian philosophy is a bit of a turn-off for some), but I've never had someone who likes big fantasy dislike the Erikson.

Book 4 (or 3? Memories of Ice) of Malazan is a little big Eye of Argon-ish in the beginning but gets much better before the first third finishes. Book 5 stands alone well and book 7 blew me away. Books 1-3 are what Thieves World tried to be.

JS&MN was a fun read for me, though. If you still aren't having fun by the time the love story and the fairies pop up, you'll be bored to tears by the rest.


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