Janet Recommends: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

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Hardcover, 416 pages
Published September 10th 2015 by Macmillan
Source: Purchased

Let it be said here and now that I had all intention of reading Sorcerer to the Crown before Janet so kindly recommended it. It’s just that I often had to push it back on the TBR pile because I had other reading obligations.

However, the fact that Janet recommended this to me made me all the more anxious to read the book because as everybody (who is anybody) will know by now, Janet has excellent taste in literature. (And baked goods.)

“Why, all the greatest magic comes down to blood,” said Mak Genggang. “And who knows blood better than a woman?”

Sorcerer to the Crown is about Zacharias, a black man, who has proved himself worthy of the title of the Sorcerer to the Crown by being able to wield the staff of all magic. Or something like that. Just…there’s a staff and if you can’t handle it, you don’t get to be a sorcerer to the crown. Most men can’t. Some men have tried and the results have been bloody.

But Zacharias is more than worthy of the title and he knows it. Only the racist white men, aka English nobles, aren’t so happy with the idea that a person who started off his career as a slave is somehow their superior. And you know how white men react to certain circumstances? Badly.

So there’s that very relevant and contemporary detail out of the way. Zacharias is a very interesting character but honestly I was more interested in Prunella, the female protagonist.

“Prunella took to the ballrooms of London in the spirit of ruthless calculation of a general entering a battlefield.”

Specifically, Zacharias and Prunella together.

“Your amoral ingenuity in the pursuit of your interest is perfectly shocking,” said Zacharias severely. “Yes, isn’t it?” said Prunella, pleased.”

As strait-laced as Zacharias is, Prunella is just as much deviant, subverting every single thing to get her way. She bothers Zacharias in interesting ways he won’t think about because he’s Zacharias. There are a couple of good friends, there is a dragon (!!) and there are wonderful representations of women and other cultures beside the dominant one.

The writing sparkles with wit and movement and I enjoyed every single page.

I loved how this fantasy of manners seems to be larger than life. There are multiple fantastical elements and Cho manages to handle all beautifully. The fae court in session is as amazing as the moment Zacharias goes to face his detractors armed with nothing but his wit and courage.

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I love how Prunella is so convinced she is doing right that anyone around her can’t help but be convinced similarly. I love how she decides to protect Zacharias because that’s what you do for the man you have feelings for.

This is a wonderful novel. Seriously. If you want something funny, thrilling, and subversive, read it.

Thank you Janet!

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