rymenhild: The legendary Oxford manuscript library. Caption "The world is quiet here." (The world is quiet here)
[personal profile] rymenhild
Last night, I dug myself out of a pile of ungraded papers, closed the file holding my unfinished chapter draft, and went to the bookstore. This was certainly a foolish and ill-conceived decision, which I do not regret overmuch.

As you may discover from my syntax, I've been reading Regency pastiche again. Galen Beckett's The Magicians and Mrs. Quent is not distinguished by its originality, borrowing its plots (and a good many of its characters) from Austen, Brontë and Dickens by way of Heyer, de Maurier and Susanna Clarke. It is, however, a delightful book. The young gentlewoman protagonist is just the sort of bluestocking with hidden depths I like to read about. Devoted to her sisters, her mother and her mad magician father, constantly found with her nose in a book (of magick!), Miss Ivy Lockwood carries the novel well. Meanwhile, a rakish lord, a penniless clerk, a dashing highwayman and a brooding gentleman all have connections to the political and magickal unrest threatening the government and people of darkness-covered Altania.

The land of Altania is often literally dark. Days and nights have irregular length, so that one day may be seventeen hours long and the next day may be four hours long, followed by a twenty-seven hour night. I admit this stretched my suspension of disbelief. I kept scratching my head and considering impossible planetary rotations and alterations in gravitational forces. Also, on such a planet, why would humans evolve with the same regular circadian rhythms as Earth-standard humans?

I enjoyed the subtle presentation of knowledge that the characters don't know or aren't willing to express. For example, one viewpoint character is gay and doesn't have the vocabulary to know it, although other people around him have figured it out. The treatment of another character's wedding night is also quite carefully handled.

If Georgette Heyer with magic sounds appealing to you, you will almost certainly enjoy The Magicians and Mrs. Quent. If you like Austen but find Heyer too precious and inauthentic, you might not like the book. I found it to be perfect comfort reading, and eagerly await the sequel.

Finally, I should like to deliver the following note to Miss Ivy Lockwood, encoded in ROT13 so as not to spoil book 2 of this three-volume novel: Vs lbhe gjb fhvgbef ner n Urlre ureb naq Ze. Ebpurfgre, frevbhfyl, qba'g zneel Ze. Ebpurfgre!

Incidentally, this is a test of crossposting from Dreamwidth. Let me know if the system works.


rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)

January 2017


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