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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
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Archived 2012 Group Reads > Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell 05: Chapters 23-25

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) Ok, we start Volume II this week! Thoughts?


message 2: by Rosemary (last edited Jun 04, 2012 11:43AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Rosemary I enjoyed seeing more of Jonathan Strange. Mr Norrell was much more accepting of him than I expected. But I felt this section was a little bit of a filler, not so much happening but things that just need to be there for continuity. It was nice to see Honeyfoot and Segundus again!


Kristina (kristina3880) I was glad to see Honeyfoot and Segundus again. I really like the magic trick with the book....even if Jonathan could not change it back.


message 4: by ayanami (last edited Jun 04, 2012 03:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ayanami I guess you could argue that the book has a lot of filler. There are a lot of quirky anecdotes and background stories that aren't totally necessary, in fact, I feel like there hasn't really been an obvious plot, but I'm really enjoying all of it. This book is just hitting all the right buttons for me. Also, it kind of reminds me of Diana Wynne Jones' books in terms of the humour and the way that side characters/side stories are introduced and woven into the main story.. sometimes it feels like the book is going off on some tangent but then the author manages to bring it back to the main plot.

I really enjoyed seeing the two magicians interact. Very amusing how Mr Norell is both delighted by Strange and yet still wanting to keep all his own secrets. Also, I lol'd at using nightmares to win wars.

I've also been thinking about the prophecy that Vinculus recited to Mr Norrell back in chapter 13. The prophecy mentions three people: two magicians and a nameless slave. My guess is that the magicians are Mr Norrell and Jonathan Strange (Mr Norrell would be the first magician who fears the Raven King and passes his life alone). As for the nameless slave, my guess is Stephen Black. The first part of the prophecy talks about how "the nameless slave was a king in a strange country", and the fairy has compares Black to a king several times, and offered him a place to rule over in fairyland. Later on in the prophecy it talks about the slave becoming a king (future tense instead of past), so maybe Black may have had some sort of history with magic/being royalty/the Raven King in the past, but doesn't remember now. It seems to suggest that he will return to rule a strange country and that the Raven King will also return. What do you guys think?


Rosemary Oh yes I had not thought of Stephen Black being involved in the prophecy but it seems very likely.


message 6: by Tasha (last edited Jun 05, 2012 09:13AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tasha Definitely agree, great thoughts! :)


Stephanie I have to agree. The book is just a bunch of vignettes bound together by their connections to Norrell and Strange.

I really haven't given much thought to the ins and outs of the book because it is so lengthy, but if I had to think about Stephen Black's relationship to the Raven King and the prophecy, I would say that it is something that is happening now versus something that is in his history or the past. Black is being given the means to be a powerful king--jewels, money, perfect woman to marry--he is becoming, perhaps, the Raven King, himself...


Tasha I like how JS got introduced to the main story and his meetings with Mr Norrell. I loved the book in the mirror too.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) I am enjoying the book more and more, and mainly due to its prose - it is lush, verbally fresh, and extremely appealing.

I tend to disagree with the other readers, saying that the novel is a set of vignettes. I have a feeling that it is a lengthy setup for the plot (though there are plenty of small fables and legends in the fabric of the novel). At least, the characters are not forgotten, and there are some links and connections between the characters (Vinculus as a connecting character between Mr. Norrell and Mr. Strange is one of those examples).

I also have some doubts about Mr. Norrell's intentions - he seemed to have a double agenda when he so eagerly volunteered to apprentice Jonathan Strange. That's one of the reasons why he was sending his most valuable books to his estate, and it could also tentatively explain his inconsistencies in his lectures.

One more point - I really enjoyed reading about the dreams and nightmares as an intimidation trick. When this method did not work, they used a detour technique to influence the Russian emperor to develop aversion towards Napoleon. Equally smart and funny.


message 10: by ayanami (last edited Jun 05, 2012 07:12PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

ayanami Actually, I don't see them as a series of vignettes, either. I just meant that the book seems to go on tangents, but I have a feeling that they will relate back to the main story (which is how a lot of DWJ's books go). The more I think about it, the more I feel that this book is kind of like DWJ for grown ups; same sort of self-deprecating humour, clever and imaginative uses of magic, etc.


message 11: by Tasha (last edited Jun 05, 2012 07:25PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tasha Who is DWJ? Is it obvious and I'm missing it. ;)


ayanami Tasha wrote: "Who is DWJ? Is it obvious and I'm missing it. ;)"

Ah, sorry! I was referring to Diana Wynne Jones. I mentioned her in my first comment and just abbreviated her name after that.


Tasha Got it, thanks. :)


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm re-reading this book and I still can't get over how fantastic and humorous the prose is- even when the subject matter is a trifle dark. I loved the little bit in Ch. 25 about "Employing magicians was one thing, employing novelists was quite another" or something similar. But if you think about what they're talking about doing- it's really rather horrible. Can you imagine having your head filled with nightmares that were sent to your dreams by magic? Especially since we've seen how vivid dreams from a magician can be from Segundus's mishap with Jonathan Strange...


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Maggie wrote: "I'm re-reading this book and I still can't get over how fantastic and humorous the prose is- even when the subject matter is a trifle dark. I loved the little bit in Ch. 25 about "Employing magicia..."

I like the allusion to Gothic writers, who were at their best at the time the events took place:-)


message 16: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam (aramsamsam) Maggie wrote: "I'm re-reading this book and I still can't get over how fantastic and humorous the prose is- even when the subject matter is a trifle dark. I loved the little bit in Ch. 25 about "Employing magicia..."

Definitely. I'm rereading this too. Somehow I didn't get it all last time. There is so much conflict potential between the two magicians - in fact, they seem to be on the verge of argueing quite often. Strange's book trick is only one example.
They meet to talk magic, but Norrell seems to scheme every step he takes, and so they cannot speak about everything clearly.

I liked the Shadow House chapter very much. The haunted house stuff really gets me every time!


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

@Iselin, I completely forgot about how tense first interactions are between Strange and Norrell, and I also forgot just how dissimilar the two of them were. Now that I'm rereading it, I feel almost- dare I say it- sorry for Mr. Norrell. Even though he's been a really nasty character throughout most of the story, it's more apparent on this second read-through that he's lonely. And even though he has himself to blame for that, it still makes me cringe a little at how happy he is to have Strange as a pupil while being completely clueless at just how much he's disliked and why.

And yeah, the Shadow House was fantastic. It was such a cool detail about the way magic once worked in England- I don't blame Segundus and Honeyfoot for going to check it out.


Miranda I'm finally caught up! I started way late and have been reading a week's section per day until now. Phew!

I'm loving this book. The main story is really enthralling and I love all the little footnote stories-- particularly this latest one about the Master of Nottingham's daughter and Margaret Ford.

I'm nervous about what Drawlight and Lascelles are going to do now that Strange is kind of taking their place. I get the feeling they're not going to take that lying down.


Catherine (catsmeeow) I love seeing the interactions between Norrell and Strange now that Norrell is a lot more accepting. It's great to see him flourish as a mentor and be inspired by Strange's talent.

I also feel that the book isn't a bunch of vignettes. I feel like there is a larger plot, though I do enjoy the side stories that are given.


Becky Its interesting that someone noted the tangents/vignettes feeling. I havent finished reading this section because I was camping this weekend and I brought a different book with me. But when Iwas reading about the "creation" of this book, she wrote the different sections completely out of order over 10 years. It was only in the end that she tied them all together to make a novel.


Stephanie Becky wrote: "Its interesting that someone noted the tangents/vignettes feeling. I havent finished reading this section because I was camping this weekend and I brought a different book with me. But when Iwas re..."

I finished the book last evening(promise no spoilers, I kept getting ahead until, well...I was finished), but began researching what you are talking about with the creation of the book. I love that it took her 10 years and she wrote it in 3 hour a day pieces, while still doing her other job of editing cookbooks (what different things). I also love that she did stitch all of these pieces together and had the footnotes and was shocked to find that a publisher wanted her book footnotes and all. I would love to meet Clarke, as she seems beyond brilliant and humble and nice.


ayanami It's pretty incredible that she was so dedicated to this one project for 10 years. I think all the hard work and commitment paid off!


message 23: by Sam (new) - rated it 5 stars

Sam (aramsamsam) Indeed! I wonder what she is doing now... I really wish there was more of her work out there or news of something big in the make. I discovered some links on her website to a couple of her short stories, but I crave another chunkster like this one!


Stephanie ayanami wrote: "It's pretty incredible that she was so dedicated to this one project for 10 years. I think all the hard work and commitment paid off!"

i totally agree! :D

Iselin wrote: "Indeed! I wonder what she is doing now... I really wish there was more of her work out there or news of something big in the make. I discovered some links on her website to a couple of her short st..."

somebody else already posted this, but there's a fun website: http://www.jonathanstrange.com/

and, it seems there's going to be a sequel (I don't know how she's going to pull it off!)


message 25: by Juliette (last edited Jun 17, 2012 04:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Juliette Did I miss something? Where is Childermass? Obviously this section of the book is meant to be more about Strange than Norrel but Drawlight and Lascells are there for the meeting of the two, and I would think that Childermass is far more involved in this than those two.

I did take about three weeks break between the first section and starting this one, so maybe I missed something (or forgot) about Childermass. Did Norrel send him off? I think someone else mentioned they thought Childermass and Vinculus might be the same person...


Becky Ack I STILL have not finished this chapter. I was planning on reading on all my flights this weekend (I flew from North Carolina to Seattle, Washington and back) but there was so much turbulence. Blleeeeeh. I couldnt look at text.

By God I'll catch up eventually.


Deana (ablotial) Planning to do a lot of catching up next week -- only working 2 days and then taking the holiday for the rest of the week.

I did enjoy this section. I enjoyed seeing the two magicians interact and it's amusing to see Mr. Norrell's reaction to Mr. Strange's wife.

Good point about Childremass, Juliette! I hadn't noticed he was missing, but now that you mention it...


Loretta (lorettalucia) ayanami wrote: "I guess you could argue that the book has a lot of filler. There are a lot of quirky anecdotes and background stories that aren't totally necessary, in fact, I feel like there hasn't really been an..."

GREAT and thoughtful analysis. Thanks for sharing.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments I wondered about Childerness as well, but I'm certain we haven't seen the last of him.

About the slave, there are three sections to the book, so I would assume the third, John Uskglass, would be about him? Or maybe that's a alter-ego for Stephen Black, as the Raven King?


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