Review: Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho (Sorcerer Royal #1)


Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho // VBC ReviewSorcerer to the Crown (Sorcerer Royal #1)
Zen Cho
Published: Sept. 1, 2015 (Ace)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: copy provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review

Reviewed by: Margaret

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Zacharias Wythe, freed slave and magical scholar, has never been well liked by his colleagues in the Royal Society for Unnatural Philosophy. When he becomes Sorcerer Royal after the unexplained death of his mentor Sir Stephen, the animosity only increases. Zacharias would like to use his new position to discover a cure for England’s declining magic, but spends most of his time dealing with international politics and allegations that he murdered Sir Stephen.

Hoping that spending a few days away from London will let the fervor die down, Zacharias travels to Mrs. Daubeny’s School for Gentlewitches to give a speech. Since society is even less accepting of women performing magic than it is of a black man doing so, the girls at the school are taught to suppress their powers, often at the expense of their health. Zacharias is appalled by the training, but quite impressed with the magical skills of a few of the women, particularly Prunella Gentleman.

Prunella, now nineteen, was taken in by Mrs. Daubeney as an infant after her father’s death. She has no official title, but assists in running the school and caring for the girls. After an altercation with a well-connected student, Mrs. Daubeney wants to demote Prunella to the kitchen. Feeling betrayed, she decides instead to set out for London with some valuable magical heirlooms and stows away in Zacharias’s coach.

On the way home, they stop at the border to Fairyland to investigate the decline in magic. Magic flows between realms and every country has its own border. I was surprised by how big a role the Fairy Court plays in the world’s politics, although it makes sense that they might control magic as another country would control oil or any other natural resource. I loved the variety of Fae creatures that Zen Cho introduced, many of them portrayed in a new and interesting way. She also created some unique and wonderful magic for both the Fae and the sorcerers.

Sorcerer to the Crown will definitely appeal to fans of The Clockwork Dagger (which I loved). There are obvious similarities, of course—heroes of color and heroines who left their schools for magical young women feeling betrayed by their mentors. Though Cho exchanges the dirigibles for dragons, replacing steampunk elements with magical creatures, the books have a similar tone. Both feel a little like YA to me. I’m sure that’s partly because the heroines are so young. It’s also because of their subtle and very chaste romances, which is even more the case in Sorcerer to the Crown. And I loved the political intrigue in both books.

My only complaint is with Prunella. She can be charming but she often comes off as shallow when I think she’s supposed to be naive. She sometimes reminds me of Gail Carriger’s Ivy Hisselpenny, remarking that her dress is outdated when someone’s just thrown a dagger across the ballroom. She also becomes very powerful very quickly. Though I understand how it was possible, I would have liked someone to comment on it.

Still, I really enjoyed Sorcerer to the Crown. It ended up in a completely different place than I would have predicted at the beginning. I loved all the magic and the supporting cast. I’d definitely love to visit this world again.

Sexual content: kissing

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