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  #1  
Old 07-07-2015, 06:41 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, the novel: Does it ever get interesting?

I'm to the point where it is first proposed that Strange and Norrell meet. If the previous oh-so-many pages are a guide, this will only be the first of many such proposals, and I'm ready to give up. At first Clarke's smack-on impression of Harry Potter as re-imagined by Trollope or Austin was amusing. I had hoped, though, for pacing that was a little less Regency or Victorian; parody should be shorter than the original.

Should I give up now, assuming that the next several-hundred pages will continue to slog from one mildly-interesting tit-bit to another until it just runs out of steam? I would have cast it aside like a soiled glove a week ago (I'm a slow reader) had you people not spoken so glowingly of it.
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  #2  
Old 07-07-2015, 06:43 PM
zombywoof zombywoof is offline
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The TV show is quite fast paced if that's more your thing.
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Old 07-07-2015, 06:50 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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I need something to read at lunch, in book form (and that's barely tolerated by management--draconian paperless office rules), and I have it, but I'm sorely tempted to dig out something I read before just so I can stop reading this.

ETA: And I don't have BBC America. I have ways, but I'm trying to be a good boy.

Last edited by dropzone; 07-07-2015 at 06:52 PM..
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  #4  
Old 07-07-2015, 07:06 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is offline
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It starts reeeealllly slowly, but eventually picks up until by the end it proceeds at a breathless pace. If you can manage it, I think it's well worth staying engaged. If, by the time they [oblique spoiler]
SPOILER:
visit France
, you're still not enjoying it, it might just not be for you.
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  #5  
Old 07-07-2015, 07:20 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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I never really enjoyed it. I finished it, but more out of stubbornness than anything else.

I particularly resent the idea that the fictional universe can be VASTLY different from the real world, but still have so many of the same events occur in the same way, at the same time.

Gosh, there's MAGIC in this world, and magicians, and eldritch spells, and supernatural entities....and the Napoleonic Wars unroll in exactly the same way as they did here. I sez bullshit.

(I have the same objection to the Temeraire series by Novik. You've got dragons bopping around in the Napoleonic Wars...and yet the battle of Trafalgar happens at the same time, the same day, with the same result, right down to the death of Nelson. Absurd!)
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  #6  
Old 07-07-2015, 08:11 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Dude, chill! It's just fiction. It doesn't have to make sense. So relax, dig out the copy of The Warlock In Spite of Himself that I know you have, and settle your tummy.
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  #7  
Old 07-07-2015, 08:35 PM
Finagle Finagle is offline
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Gosh, there's MAGIC in this world, and magicians, and eldritch spells, and supernatural entities....and the Napoleonic Wars unroll in exactly the same way as they did here. I sez bullshit.
A wizard did it.
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  #8  
Old 07-07-2015, 10:01 PM
dropzone dropzone is offline
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Watched the first episode, happy with the casting, loved Eddie Marsan at least since Little Dorritt, noticed I got more out of it than someone who hadn't read the book. Guess I'm stuck finishing it.
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  #9  
Old 07-07-2015, 10:27 PM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
I never really enjoyed it. I finished it, but more out of stubbornness than anything else.

I particularly resent the idea that the fictional universe can be VASTLY different from the real world, but still have so many of the same events occur in the same way, at the same time.

Gosh, there's MAGIC in this world, and magicians, and eldritch spells, and supernatural entities....and the Napoleonic Wars unroll in exactly the same way as they did here. I sez bullshit.

(I have the same objection to the Temeraire series by Novik. You've got dragons bopping around in the Napoleonic Wars...and yet the battle of Trafalgar happens at the same time, the same day, with the same result, right down to the death of Nelson. Absurd!)
Isn't your reaction here basically an elaborate form of fighting the hypothetical?
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  #10  
Old 07-07-2015, 10:56 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Isn't your reaction here basically an elaborate form of fighting the hypothetical?
Kinda... But it's a specific form of hypothetical, that works on a weird "Ceteris Paribus" structure. To me, it violates the central rule of "alternate history" fiction, where you make a change and then do your best to see where it would lead.

e.g., if you go back in time and kill Napoleon in 1787...you can't then still talk about the Bay of Pigs and Cuban Missile Crisis nearly 200 years later. They simply would not have happened. The vast scroll of history would have unrolled differently.

("Let's do a science fiction story about a world where Hydrogen has one and one-half Protons. Does 80's music still suck?")
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  #11  
Old 07-07-2015, 11:21 PM
Bridget Burke Bridget Burke is offline
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Susanna Clarke is definitely no Harry Turtledove.
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  #12  
Old 07-08-2015, 02:05 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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I was going to replay to this thread, but then I saw that Trinopus already posted everything I was going to say, almost word for word. Eerie.

I'd also like to add that the book's "protagonists" are literally the most powerful magic-users in the history of fantasy literature - they can teleport cities - and yet everyone, including them, treats their powers as a as sort of a useful parlor trick. It just doesn't compute. They should at least be tempted to conquer the world; after all, they both could do it without a second thought.
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Old 07-08-2015, 05:09 AM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
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I failed to get far enough into JS&MrN, to be able to judge whether it became interesting. My problem with it was maybe foolish: had to do with Jane Austen resemblance, as mentioned in the OP. I've tried a number of times, to get into Austen's novels, but have found them unreadable -- not least, because her (perfectly authentic) English as of two hundred years ago, does my head in. Attempting JS&..., I quickly found that -- with its being, largely, supposedly put together from contemporary documents -- it's written in "Jane-Austen-speak". That was a quick kiss of death, for me.

Most of the opinions of the book which I've heard, prior to reading this thread, have been not very favourable -- for pretty much the range of reasons cited by posters here who aren't enthusiastic about the work. Though Ms. Clarke's effectiveness as a fiction writer is open to doubt, she's undeniably very clever; I'm inclined uncharitably to feel, "and by God she knows it, and pulls out all the stops to let everyone else know it".
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Old 07-08-2015, 05:46 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
I was going to replay to this thread, but then I saw that Trinopus already posted everything I was going to say, almost word for word. Eerie.

I'd also like to add that the book's "protagonists" are literally the most powerful magic-users in the history of fantasy literature - they can teleport cities - and yet everyone, including them, treats their powers as a as sort of a useful parlor trick. It just doesn't compute. They should at least be tempted to conquer the world; after all, they both could do it without a second thought.
In a way, that's sort of an underlying theme to the whole book - only England has any magic at all that we know of (Napoleon is notably frustrated by the lack of French magicians), and it's viewed by those in power exactly as "a sort of useful parlour trick". They've no real interest in exploring its full potential because at the time magic was largely practiced by grubby street magicians, and the English upper class are far too class-conscious to want to dirty their hands with such stuff. Even Wellington, who has the most need of it, takes a while to accept its practical application, and note that Strange, who is the keenest proponent of using as much magic as possible, shies away from using it as an offensive weapon of war on the grounds that a "gentleman" would not do such a thing. Norrell's effort to "make magic respectable" is an uphill battle in the face of all of the above (not helped by Norrell's own personal foibles, admittedly).

There's also the stated and implied back history of the Raven King and his use of magic; in addition to general English reluctance to deviate from the tried-and-true way of doing things there's also an unwillingess to stir up reminders of a past in which England got thoroughly trounced by the forces of the Raven King, losing control of the North entirely (in the book it's mentioned that the King of England - meaning the South - is only Regent of the North until the Raven King's assumed eventual return). Using magic is like capitulating to the ways of the enemy, which goes against the English temperament.

TL; DR - the reluctance to use magic in any big way before and during the events of the book is justified in the narrative. What happens after the book, however...
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  #15  
Old 07-08-2015, 05:50 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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On the subject of whether it gets interesting - personally I love the language Clarke uses with its adaptation of period literary idioms and use of quasi-scholarly footnotes, all rife with humor and narrative indulgences. If you don't like the medium, you won't like the book.
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  #16  
Old 07-08-2015, 07:07 AM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
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On the subject of whether it gets interesting - personally I love the language Clarke uses with its adaptation of period literary idioms and use of quasi-scholarly footnotes, all rife with humor and narrative indulgences. If you don't like the medium, you won't like the book.
You revelled-in, I was completely turned off -- each to their own !
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  #17  
Old 07-08-2015, 07:12 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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I suspect the book appealed far more to period literature lovers than it did to fantasy fans.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:16 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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I suspect the book appealed far more to period literature lovers than it did to fantasy fans.
As one data point, I'll note that I never read period literature, do read a lot of fantasy, (and sci fi and contemporary literary fiction) and I think this book is one of the best books I've ever read. (Not just one of the best fantasy books.)

Last edited by Frylock; 07-08-2015 at 07:21 AM..
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  #19  
Old 07-08-2015, 07:20 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Kinda... But it's a specific form of hypothetical, that works on a weird "Ceteris Paribus" structure. To me, it violates the central rule of "alternate history" fiction, where you make a change and then do your best to see where it would lead.
Got it. I don't think of this as an alternate history, but instead as an alternate universe. It's not a "what if" about some historical counterfactual, instead it's (just like all fantasy) "here's a world where magic works and here are the rules, and watch what happens." It's just that it happens to be that one of the "rules" is "this world's history strongly resembles our own."
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:24 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Got it. I don't think of this as an alternate history, but instead as an alternate universe. It's not a "what if" about some historical counterfactual, instead it's (just like all fantasy) "here's a world where magic works and here are the rules, and watch what happens." It's just that it happens to be that one of the "rules" is "this world's history strongly resembles our own."
As I said, I agree with Trinopus, and I see it as lazy worldbuilding. It's milquetoast fantasy, cutesy rather than smart.
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  #21  
Old 07-08-2015, 07:47 AM
Uniqueorn Uniqueorn is offline
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As I said, I agree with Trinopus, and I see it as lazy worldbuilding. It's milquetoast fantasy, cutesy rather than smart.

Lazy worldbuilding? I think it is exceptionally clever to build a world by referring to (made-up) secondary sources.
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  #22  
Old 07-08-2015, 07:56 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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The term "worldbuilding" has, I believe, two meanings - the first is how a world is presented; the second is how a world is designed. The book does the former in a decent enough fashion, I suppose, but utterly fails in the latter, simply grafting a poorly-designed magic system and mythology on an existing historical period, with no thought to in-depth implications.
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Old 07-08-2015, 07:58 AM
Fuzzy_wuzzy Fuzzy_wuzzy is online now
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Lazy worldbuilding? I think it is exceptionally clever to build a world by referring to (made-up) secondary sources.
I agree, there is nothing lazy about it.


As to why Strange & Norrell do not take over the world with their magic powers. Paraphrasing Strange "because a gentlemen would never do such a thing, sir."
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:28 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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IAs to why Strange & Norrell do not take over the world with their magic powers. Paraphrasing Strange "because a gentlemen would never do such a thing, sir."
And even if they would, they don't yet know how. It's like asking why Isaac Newton never built an atomic bomb - skilled as they are, they simply don't know enough about magic to conquer the world even if they had the slightest inclination to do so. Even John Uskglass, who was far more skilled, only took over northern England (plus a chunk of Faerie and another kingdom in the Bitter Lands).
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  #25  
Old 07-08-2015, 08:39 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Again, they can teleport cities. All they have to do is say, "Make me absolute ruler, or I'll drop London into the Marianas Trench." And the hell with them being gentleman. You know what they say: power corrupts; godlike power corrupts godlikely. Or whatever.
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:40 AM
Catamount Catamount is offline
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I suspect the book appealed far more to period literature lovers than it did to fantasy fans.
I'm both. Fantasy is my first love and Victorian literature is my second. I liked JS&MN the first time I read it, mainly because I didn't know what would happen next, but I thought it went on too long. The second time I read it I thought it was entirely too long and the only character I really cared about was the Raven King which was
SPOILER:
a huge disappointment at the end

so I sent my copy to live at the used bookstore.

I have the 1998 edition of The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror that has a story by Susanna Clarke in it. She's not any more palatable in short story form. She understands the form of Victorian literature and the rules of fantasy, but she doesn't have any clue about the subtle subversiveness of the former and the sense of wonder inherent in the latter.

Last edited by Catamount; 07-08-2015 at 08:41 AM.. Reason: Subject-verb agreement is important.
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Old 07-08-2015, 08:53 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Again, they can teleport cities. All they have to do is say, "Make me absolute ruler, or I'll drop London into the Marianas Trench." And the hell with them being gentleman. You know what they say: power corrupts; godlike power corrupts godlikely. Or whatever.
But they don't want to be ruler. Neither of them at any point show the slightest inclination to do so. They want to be magicians and do magic, not kings having to run a country. Indeed, Mr Norrell would have actively loathed such power even if offered to him (apart from using it to suppress other magicians at one point) because it would have involved talking to people constantly instead of reading books, and Strange pretty much avoided anything that resembled work before taking up magic so was unlikely to want a job that involved massive responsibility for the rest of his life.

Plus of course you can't hold a gun to the head of the country indefinitely - even if you made it to the coronation, sooner rather than later there would be an assassination in your future.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:00 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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As I said, I agree with Trinopus, and I see it as lazy worldbuilding. It's milquetoast fantasy, cutesy rather than smart.
I can agree that it's cutesy. I don't see this as a particularly strong point of criticism--indeed it's not clear to me that it need be a criticism at all. I definitely disagree that it's not smart. Just because its goal is different from yours, it doesn't follow that it lacks intelligence.

My dear wife whom I love a great deal has a tendency to criticize movies on the basis that they end up being of a different genre than she expected prior to seeing the movie. To me, that's a very poor kind of criticism--it means you had the wrong expectations, not that the movie failed in some way. I think you may be doing something similar here, though. You're applying "alternate history" expectations to a work which is not in the alternate history genre.

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  #29  
Old 07-08-2015, 09:02 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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Maybe. The way I see it, though, you give two ordinary people near-unlimited power in return for very little effort and no price, and no matter how much they think they're "gentlemen", sooner or later something will give. It's basic human nature, and more than that - its basic storytelling.

But that aside, why didn't they just offer to teleport Versailles to Hyde Park, with Napoleon inside, thus ending the war with a single stroke and saving hundreds of thousands of lives? They could have done that, easily. They had so much power that it's amazing the French lasted as long as they did; having that much power would be like bringing a tank brigade and a flight of A-10 Watrthogs to Agincourt.

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  #30  
Old 07-08-2015, 09:06 AM
Alessan Alessan is online now
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My dear wife whom I love a great deal has a tendency to criticize movies on the basis that they end up being of a different genre than she expected prior to seeing the movie. To me, that's a very poor kind of criticism--it means you had the wrong expectations, not that the movie failed in some way. I think you may be doing something similar here, though. You're applying "alternate history" expectations to a work which is not in the alternate history genre.
No, I'm expecting the same amount of logical rigor and internal consistency any fantasy or science fiction story should have. In other words, I expect that my favorite genre be taken seriously.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:07 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Maybe. The way I see it, though, you give two ordinary people near-unlimited power in return for very little effort and no price, and no matter how much they think they're "gentlemen", sooner or later something will give. It's basic human nature, and more than that - its basic storytelling.

But that aside, why didn't they just offer to teleport Versailles to Hyde Park, with Napoleon inside, thus ending the war with a single stroke and saving hundreds of thousands of lives? They could have done that, easily. They had so much power that it's amazing the French lasted as long as they did; having that much power would be like bringing a tank brigade and a flight of A-10 Watrthogs to Agincourt.
I agree that pretty much everyone involved has massive failures of imagination. When Strange moved Brussels I wondered whether he'd even considered just dropping the entire city onto the French army. It's that "gentleman" thing again, I suppose.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:09 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Again, they can teleport cities. All they have to do is say, "Make me absolute ruler, or I'll drop London into the Marianas Trench." And the hell with them being gentleman. You know what they say: power corrupts; godlike power corrupts godlikely. Or whatever.
But you read the book, right? The characters we're talking about are just not the kind of people who would be interested in doing something like that. The way that this is so has been ably described by others in the thread.

Sure somebody would do that. Absolutely. But not this pair. The event you're describing happens in a different story about the same world, set some time into its future when a few more people are using magic.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:10 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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No, I'm expecting the same amount of logical rigor and internal consistency any fantasy or science fiction story should have. In other words, I expect that my favorite genre be taken seriously.
Okay, aside from your disagreement about what Strange and Norell would do with their power, what failures of logical rigor and internal consistency are you saying you see here? Or is it just that you don't find Norell and Strange themselves to be realistic?
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  #34  
Old 07-08-2015, 09:15 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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It's been a long time since I read it, but it really seems like your whole problem is solved, as far as I can remember, by just keeping in mind that one of the rules of this fantasy world is that its Brits take stereotypical British culturalisms very very seriously. More seriously, perhaps, than real people ever did. This is perfectly fair play in a fantasy novel--it gives the author a way to explore the implications of these attitudes. Which is, of course, at least half the point of the work as a whole.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:19 AM
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I agree that pretty much everyone involved has massive failures of imagination. When Strange moved Brussels I wondered whether he'd even considered just dropping the entire city onto the French army. It's that "gentleman" thing again, I suppose.
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It's been a long time since I read it, but it really seems like your whole problem is solved, as far as I can remember, by just keeping in mind that one of the rules of this fantasy world is that its Brits take stereotypical British culturalisms very very seriously. More seriously, perhaps, than real people ever did. This is perfectly fair play in a fantasy novel--it gives the author a way to explore the implications of these attitudes. Which is, of course, at least half the point of the work as a whole.
Which is a better reason for the "failure of imagination" point. Clarke's English are really bad at "thinking outside the box" because "staying inside the box" is an intrinsic part of being British. I might even postulate that these English are more culturally rigid as a response to their history with the chaotic magic of the North.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:21 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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I might even postulate that these English are more culturally rigid as a response to their history with the chaotic magic of the North.
Yes, I think you're right about that. (I feel like this is possibly even addressed within the book itself but I could be creating a vague memory here...)
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:25 AM
Maus Magill Maus Magill is offline
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No, I'm expecting the same amount of logical rigor and internal consistency any fantasy or science fiction story should have. In other words, I expect that my favorite genre be taken seriously.
But your criticism is akin to asking why Oppenheimer never held Washington hostage after the Bomb had been developed.

If you didn't like the book, that's fine. It didn't agree with your tastes. That's not a fault of the book.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:34 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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But your criticism is akin to asking why Oppenheimer never held Washington hostage after the Bomb had been developed.
Well, to be fair, could Oppenheimer have realistically got away with such a thing? Surely he didn't have physical access to whatever was necessary to launch a missile wherever he pleased?
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  #39  
Old 07-08-2015, 09:35 AM
MrAtoz MrAtoz is offline
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But keep in mind that actual Victorian gentleman had no ethical qualms about ruthlessly exploiting India, colonizing Africa, forcing the opium trade into China over the objections of the Chinese government, and using young children as factory laborers and chimney sweeps.

The notion that "a gentleman wouldn't do such a thing" is a lie, and always has been. Gentlemen have historically been perfectly willing to do the most horrible of things.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:44 AM
Maus Magill Maus Magill is offline
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He could have gotten a van. Why didn't he get a van?

If he had a van, he could have had someone drive it to Washington to hold it hostage.

I just demand a little consistency in my reality.
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Old 07-08-2015, 09:50 AM
Malthus Malthus is offline
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But keep in mind that actual Victorian gentleman had no ethical qualms about ruthlessly exploiting India, colonizing Africa, forcing the opium trade into China over the objections of the Chinese government, and using young children as factory laborers and chimney sweeps.

The notion that "a gentleman wouldn't do such a thing" is a lie, and always has been. Gentlemen have historically been perfectly willing to do the most horrible of things.
That's part of the whole point of the book - that, in part, it is a comedy on the manners (and often, hypocrisy) of the era, including its notions of honour.

We know from the book what Mr. Strange thought on the matter. Wellington asked whether a magician could kill someone with magic, and Strange answered something like that he supposed a magician could, but that a gentleman never would.

The reason the abswer is funny/ironic is that, of course, Wellington himself was a "gentleman" involved in killing lots of people, and Mr. Strange was there to help him do it - yet here he was, insisting that he would not directly kill people with magic.

In short, you guys are missing the point somewhat in the criticism - part of the point of the author is to use fantasy to hold up a mirror to the time. If she had written a straight alternative history in which everything was different and realistic, that would be a totally different book with a totally different point.
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  #42  
Old 07-08-2015, 10:03 AM
puddleglum puddleglum is offline
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I thought the book kind of read like the first in a long series. The first half is all introduction and then the plot happens in the second half of the book. If you like plot in your novels, then the book definitely gets better.
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  #43  
Old 07-08-2015, 10:29 AM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
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He could have gotten a van. Why didn't he get a van?

If he had a van, he could have had someone drive it to Washington to hold it hostage.

I just demand a little consistency in my reality.
Physically, quite doable. In Turtledove's Southern Victory / Time-Line 191 series: when the Confederate States are the first to develop a working atomic bomb -- using a motor vehicle, they sneak it by land into Philadelphia (the US capital in the series), and set it off there.
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Old 07-08-2015, 10:41 AM
GargoyleWB GargoyleWB is offline
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Originally Posted by Sangahyando View Post
I failed to get far enough into JS&MrN, to be able to judge whether it became interesting. My problem with it was maybe foolish: had to do with Jane Austen resemblance, as mentioned in the OP. I've tried a number of times, to get into Austen's novels, but have found them unreadable -- not least, because her (perfectly authentic) English as of two hundred years ago, does my head in. Attempting JS&..., I quickly found that -- with its being, largely, supposedly put together from contemporary documents -- it's written in "Jane-Austen-speak". That was a quick kiss of death, for me.
I felt the same. The writing styling came across to me as an immersion-breaking affectation by the author. I often love when authors can alter the style of their narrative to fit the same contemporary time of the setting, but Susanna Clarke didn't rise above gimmicky for me.
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Old 07-08-2015, 10:50 AM
ISiddiqui ISiddiqui is offline
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Join Date: May 2002
I guess I'm not necessarily a good person to ask on the OP's question because I found the novel fascinating from the first chapter. I do enjoy the Austen-esque comedy of manners and the footnotes to made up secondary sources was a completely joy! It started slow (but I absolutely loved the world building) but accelerated quite fast by the end. It became, and remains, one of my favorite novels.

I do also agree that picking out why would their be a Napoleonic War if there was a magical invasion by the Raven King in the 1000s does miss the point. The novel is basically a comedy of manners of the Napoleonic Era (including humorous ideas of class and proper behavior, in a very Austen way) involving the speculation of what if this era was further complicated by actual magic.

I even bought Clarke's short story anthology (Ladies of Grace Adieu) when it came out and am only disappointed that Clarke hasn't written anymore.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:08 AM
Lightray Lightray is offline
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The question of whether a gentleman would exploit the use of magic for their personal gain has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the book's plot. Norrell and Strange were not randomly selected to be magicians. They were, explicitly, part of a spell the Raven King had cast to get rid of the Gentleman With the Thistledown Hair.

They did not accidentally have personality traits that led to them not exploiting their magic - they were specifically selected for the personality traits that the Raven King's spell needed.

There's no need to speculate why some other magician wouldn't have teleported London into the Marianas Trench in a fit of pique, or snatched Napoleon into prison, because there weren't going to be any other magicians. The Raven King brought back magic to have two magicians do what he needed done, and then set up circumstances so those two magicians got put away where they'd be no bother after they were done.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:17 AM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Join Date: Jun 2001
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Originally Posted by Lightray View Post
The question of whether a gentleman would exploit the use of magic for their personal gain has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the book's plot. Norrell and Strange were not randomly selected to be magicians. They were, explicitly, part of a spell the Raven King had cast to get rid of the Gentleman With the Thistledown Hair.

They did not accidentally have personality traits that led to them not exploiting their magic - they were specifically selected for the personality traits that the Raven King's spell needed.

There's no need to speculate why some other magician wouldn't have teleported London into the Marianas Trench in a fit of pique, or snatched Napoleon into prison, because there weren't going to be any other magicians. The Raven King brought back magic to have two magicians do what he needed done, and then set up circumstances so those two magicians got put away where they'd be no bother after they were done.
Dang I have totally forgotten about all of this. I need to read the thing again... or anyway, watch the series...
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  #48  
Old 07-08-2015, 11:37 AM
Grumman Grumman is offline
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I found the book tedious and couldn't make it through it.
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Old 07-08-2015, 11:54 AM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lightray View Post
The question of whether a gentleman would exploit the use of magic for their personal gain has absolutely no relevance whatsoever to the book's plot. Norrell and Strange were not randomly selected to be magicians. They were, explicitly, part of a spell the Raven King had cast to get rid of the Gentleman With the Thistledown Hair.

They did not accidentally have personality traits that led to them not exploiting their magic - they were specifically selected for the personality traits that the Raven King's spell needed.

There's no need to speculate why some other magician wouldn't have teleported London into the Marianas Trench in a fit of pique, or snatched Napoleon into prison, because there weren't going to be any other magicians. The Raven King brought back magic to have two magicians do what he needed done, and then set up circumstances so those two magicians got put away where they'd be no bother after they were done.
Now, I really do not want to read this book -- not even if it were miraculously transmuted to be in standard modern English. (No judginess intended -- different ones of us like and dislike different stuff, and it's all fine.)
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Old 07-08-2015, 12:10 PM
Frylock Frylock is offline
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Originally Posted by Sangahyando View Post
Now, I really do not want to read this book -- not even if it were miraculously transmuted to be in standard modern English. (No judginess intended -- different ones of us like and dislike different stuff, and it's all fine.)
Just curious--what about the quoted summary turned you off?
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