Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, by Susannah Clarke

This is a fascinating and highly entertaining fantasy tale. The plot takes about 2/3 of the book to get going, but it is written so well and the setting and characters are so interesting that I didn't mind. Once it did get going, I had a hard time putting it down. It is a period piece, set firmly in the early 19th century, with proper English gentlemen and their servants gadding about England. The interplay between the classes is carefully done and the dialogue is often hilarious because of this. Clarke cleverly weaves the story events around the Napoleonic wars and other names from history. The use of footnotes and plenty of rich background stories make it all seem believable.

I can highly recommend this book, for any lovers of fantasy or anyone interested in that period of history.

Note to people who complain all fantasy stories are Tolkien knock-offs: there are no elves, dwarves, swords, rings, monsters or magical beasts. There is an evil sorcerer of sorts, but he has no army, and he isn't all that evil, really.

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