Book: Sorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal 1) by Zen Cho
Release Date: July 28th 2016
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Possible spoilers for the first book in the series
The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up. But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…
The first I heard of Sorcerer to the Crown was on Read Diverse Books. I like to keep an eye on Naz’s blog for diverse fantasy reads and this sounded appealing. When I came across it in a book store I could not leave it. Have you seen that cover? It is simply gorgeous. You know I have a weakness for the prettiest books.
But I have an ever bigger weakness for precious characters which is what this book gave me. Our two main characters are poc and as this is written by a poc author makes this an own voices book. There is social commentary on gender and race which we need more of in fantasy. The diversity in this book was great and added a different dimension to the book.
If the synopsis makes it sound like Zacharias has a frustrating life, I can tell you it is even worse in the actual story. Poor guy. I really feel for him and I couldn’t help but fall in love with his character from the first chapter. He is such a kind gentleman to people who quite honestly don’t deserve it. Zacharias is just one of those characters that is precious and must be defended at all costs. I was glad to see that Prunella agreed with me. Because he is also as stubborn as a mule when it came to accepting help.
Prunella in her own right is fierce. She understands that society has rules but she completely discards them from time to time without thinking about the consequences. She wants to be able to be in control. I admired her for her ability to keep her head held up high. She got back up after every punch.
The side characters all were lovely characters as well. Mrs. Wythe as the mother hen. Damerell and Rollo who have quite an interesting dynamic and with whom I had not quite picked up on that one thing about Rollo initially. Mak Genggang that really needed to smack some sense in all those males. I guess I only had a bit of annoyance to Mr. Wythe who feels like he did Zacharias a service by taking him away from his parents. That man could have used a good talking to. But I loved the interactions that were between all these characters. It felt like a family in a way. It was warm.
The world in this book is set in a historical setting, during Bonaparte’s reign in France to be exact. While I can often find that the formal conversation of historical settings can keep one from getting close to the characters this was obviously not the case with this book. I think Zen Cho has quite a way with weaving nearness to a character without leaving the formal rules and conversation of the time period behind.
This magical world also gave us cloud surfing, ghosts, the fairy court, familiars, dragons, mermaids, magical eggs, spells and so on. There was just so much to love in this book. My only complaint would be the names and all used to say which component of a spell was from what and so on. That was a bit over the head for me as that wasn’t quite explained. I would have liked a bit more of world building on that.
As for plot wise this isn’t quite an end of the world type of story. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any stakes on the table. Zacharias and Prunella’s life for instance and them getting what they want in life. Some things were a tad predictable but that was okay. Because there is so much going on around that, you are bound to miss a hint or two.
Goodreads tells me there will be more books to this and I honestly can’t wait for them.