Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho

elevetha's review against another edition

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**An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

This was quite a lot of fun, with magical reforms and mermaids and malicious intent strewn about...and that's just the "M"s. But honestly, I enjoyed it greatly. Atmospherically, it had a nice blend of whimsy and gloom, and the characters were just right.

I really enjoyed this one! Maybe it was a little slow-paced, but much as with [b:The Scorpio Races|10626594|The Scorpio Races|Maggie Stiefvater||15535056](Though this book is literally NOTHING like it), I thought it worked: it allowed time for the characters to develop. And the characters!! Zacharias and Prunella and the whole cast; Gilbert, Damarell, and Rollo the caterpillar being my favorite side characters, are so human, even if they are actually nothing of the kind. And Zacharias is great, because he's rather a reserved fellow, with plenty of stalwart fervor underneath. Prunella is witty and stubborn, and really rather lovely. Their romance was such a breath of fresh air, as it was understated and soft and slow and even remarked of being of secondary importance to whatever else was going on, such as preserving their lives and the fate of the whole country. And also it was cute.

I can appreciate the feminism throughout the book, magical equality and all that being important. It felt real and relevant, not heavy-handed and written just because smAsh thE pAtriArchy. And I understand why
Spoiler Prunella had to become Sorceress to the Crown. It made sense, even pertaining to the plot, but I myself would have been just as content should Zacharias have remained Sorcerer. But you might as well have titled it "Sorceress To The Crown" as it was obvious that was how it was going to end up.

SpoilerI did find it somewhat unnecessary to make Prunella the daughter of this super magical powerful being.
But one thing that is so interesting about this book is that it did have a number of cliches, but they were written so well, or incorporated in such ways, that I hardly minded.

Can't wait to read the sequel!

fanny_carlsson's review

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adventurous dark inspiring medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Plot
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes


write_read_rose's review against another edition

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adventurous funny mysterious medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes


shays's review against another edition

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Although obviously highly socially conscious, Sorcerer to the Crown is also a great adventure, with a good bit of political intrigue. Even as he tries to solve the problem of England’s decreasing magical atmosphere, Zacharias is fighting off assassination attempts, and struggling to negotiate England’s tricky relationship with the neighbouring realm of Faery. Though Britain’s magical power has decreased, magical artifacts and creatures seem to be lurking everywhere, if you look beneath the surface. There is even a touch of romance at the periphery, though it is certain be more significant to the next two volumes of this planned trilogy, which begins with this well-rounded romp through magical England. read more

brokebybooks's review against another edition

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Totally lives up to the hype even years later. It was hard but necessary to read about his parents, and his conflicted feelings of diaspora. It's a clear demonstration without dumbing it down or pandering to white audiences.

At the same time, it shows how race and gender intersect to create misogynoir and how black men and white women often miss the point with black women.

Gods I love Prunella. I just really fucking love her.

Zacharias is a fuddy duddy trained by the white supremacy but he gets better. In the face of contrary evidence, he changes his opinions. Unlike the white elitists who have to be dragged kicking and screaming like spoiled brats they are.

Romance is all companionship & teasing suggestion from others until the very end with The Kiss.

I did not suspect the twists and conclusions, which plays a small part in making it perfect.

maryannsophia's review against another edition

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adventurous dark funny mysterious slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? It's complicated
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated


The setting and characters of this book are extremely unique, quirky, and at times bizarre. The style of the world, especially the Fairyland and magical people, definitely takes some getting used to. Overall, it was an interesting story and well-written, with lots of dry wit and blithe humor. But the characters do make decisions that are questionable and, often, creepy.
SpoilerFor one, while Prunella's use of her blood to hatch the familiar eggs makes sense, it felt a little unnecessarily TMI to me... however, one can't really expect anything less than a book that deals in the occult. But the really disturbing aspect was her sacrifice of Nidget to the dragon for her own purposes - and that this betrayal (similar to her mother's own murders, promiscuity, etc) was viewed as acceptable, and even appropriate. Similarly, the book had a rather confused view of religion, heaven, hell, morality, and dealings with spirits.
Overall, I found it a fascinating book, but one with large flaws that make it hard to recommend. 

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kmuds's review against another edition

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Old English was at times delight And distracting from an interesting though slow paced at times magical world

maddyd51's review against another edition

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Ah, the glorious potential of a new trilogy, tempered by the painful realization that you have to wait for the next one to come out. Within a Victorian setting, Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho explores issues of race, sexism, morality, and power. This fantasy story is set in an England where only men of wealth are allowed to practice magic, but that magic is mysteriously decreasing.

This is one of those novels that requires a bit of patience up front. Specifically, be prepared to pull out the dictionary, unless you are a major vocabulary wizard. I rarely have to look up words in a book, but goodness gracious, I think looked up one per chapter while reading this! At times, it starts to feel like the author pulled out a thesaurus to find an arcane word when something more common would have done the job just as well. Just a few examples: stoicheiotical, froward, licentiate, negus, homunculus, directoire, and goety. Thank God for the Kindle dictionary is all I have to say.

The writing style is true to the time period in which it is set, so the syntax is definitely old-fashioned. It feels more like reading a novel by Jane Austen than by a modern novelist.

However, if you can acclimate yourself to the vocabulary and writing style, you'll find a delightful story full of wit and intrigue in Sorcerer to the Crown. There are twists and turns, characters that are fully fleshed out, and a sense of humor that leans to the darker side. I was at times shocked and at times brought to laughing out loud. Through all that though, I wasn't completely drawn in to the story, possibly because I kept getting distracted by the style.

This novel is worth a look for fans of fantasy series set in a world of magic and I'll likely pick up the next in the series, though not if I'm in the mood for an easy read.

caprica's review against another edition

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A terrific book. Sure to be of interest to anyone who is already a fan of Naomi Novik's wonderful Temeraire books, or other texts that involve magical historical fiction.

The characters are compelling and interesting, not least because they offer a chance to revisit historical settings through the eyes of minority characters. Zen Cho does an admirable job of handling difficult issues in a way that is both intelligible and sensitive.

The pacing of the story itself occasionally feels a bit off, but this is a minor criticism compared to the work as a whole, which is genuinely delightful. The final act alone would be worth it, as it offers unexpected turns in the story alongside truly funny writing.

On the whole, an extremely pleasant read and highly recommended.

susannelucyluisa's review against another edition

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funny lighthearted mysterious slow-paced