Zen Cho is one of those authors where I’ve been meaning to read them, and then my TBR starts to crush me. But, look! I have finally emerged triumphant and read Sorcerer to the Crown. Let’s forget that I had to read it in order to review The True Queen.
At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—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…
I love the reading line on the cover, “English magic lies in their hands” because that’s really all I needed to know before diving into this fantastic book. Sorcerer to the Crown has to be one of those under hyped books that deserve more love. Inside you’ll find two people of color magicians who fight against all odds to change the world. Whether they just want some training, to enact reform, they’re here to shake up British society in the best of ways. And they have solidified a firm place in my heart.
The world is so heavily prejudiced against Zacharias and Prunella. At every turn Zacharias suffers from under hand insults, outright contempt, and prejudice and, contrary to what we want to believe, it hasn’t really gotten better. Add Prunella, an outspoken and bold woman who has the strongest magic the world has seen.
And Prunella, dear of my heart, will not be stifled – she’s headstrong, talented, and clever – and she’s going to chase after what she wants. In a world that seeks to dismantle her, to nullify her talents, this very act is one of rebellion. Prunella won me over with her cleverness, her intelligence, but her constant bravery to live a life true to herself.
My favorite dynamic has to be the scenes when they are together. Talk about two characters who misunderstand each other, make mistakes, but are, at the end of the day, so similar. Their whole lives are a quest to subvert the status quo by their very definition. Unlike others around them, their greatness, their dreams, are worth fighting for.
Not to mention Zacharias’ working through his feelings about his father figure, Sir Stephen, is one of the most nuanced and satisfying experiences. Bought and taken away from his family, he has a love and gratitude for his father figure, but throughout this book you seem him investigate exactly his feelings – resentment, anger, and shock.
In a society where women are not allowed to be magicians, and where they are literally wasting themselves away to keep their powers from threatening the status quo, Prunella has everything working against her. If this book hadn’t stolen my heart, reading about the clever ways Cho weaves the prejudice and rhetoric into this book is stunning. Not only because it makes your blood boil, but because it doesn’t seem a stone’s throw away from our own history.
Cho has woven such a complex and sweeping book. There’s politics, on many levels from the fairy court all the way to India, old rivalries, and the shake up of magic on a grand scale.
At the heart of Sorcerer to the Crown is both Zacharias and Prunella’s quests to exist in a world that constantly tells them they shouldn’t. A world that discourages their talents, their dreams, their lives. In Sorcerer to the Crown we see the way kindness can have sharp edges, the ghosts of colonialism, and the depths of racism. In my review I haven’t even talked about the story, growing into your power (and making mistakes), the difficult path of change, and being burdened with teaching people and navigating tension. It examines the idea of power – and how we can check our own power in the face of our mistakes – both loyalty and friendship, and the sacrifices needed to achieve our dreams.