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Patricia C. Wrede – Magician’s Ward

May 7, 2010

47. Magician’s Ward by Patricia C. Wrede (1997)
Mairelon, Book 2

Read my review of book:
1. Mairelon the Magician

Length: 288 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fantasy/Mystery, plus a splash of Romance

Started: 26 April 2010
Finished: 26 April 2010

Where did it come from? The library.
Why do I have it? I really enjoyed the first one, and since this one is out of print, I didn’t want to wait until I’d tracked down a copy of my own before reading it.

Between being a
wizard or a Lady, I’ll
skip the corset, please.

Summary: Now that Mairelon has taken Kim on as his apprentice, the determination and quick intelligence that she developed as a common pickpocket and street thief are proving surprisingly useful in the study of magic. However, nothing could have prepared her for the terrors she will have to face as a young lady about to come out into polite society. Now Kim must not only learn the laws of magic and the equally unforgiving rules of society, she must also deal with an attempted burglary of Mairelon’s library, which is only the tip of an international plot decades in the making.

Review: Wrede’s done it again: blended genres effortlessly, telling a interesting story with strong characters, a flair for snappy dialogue, and more than enough humor to round things out. It’s not quite of a piece with Mairelon the Magician – while the first book felt primarily like a farce, Magician’s Ward feels more like a comedy of manners – but it’s equally enjoyable. In fact, I think it’s actually better: the plot is less convoluted and flows more smoothly, and the supporting cast is smaller and more easy to keep straight. I also liked the touch of Regency Romance (which would admittedly have been out of place in the first book), and the addition of Mairelon’s mother, who is a proper (if somewhat quirky) Lady *and* a practicing magician, is absolutely brilliant. I tore through this book in a single evening, and now definitely need to find my own copy, because I can easily see this joining Wrede’s other books as a perennial comfort read. 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: This book could probably be read and understood independently of Mairelon the Magician, but they’re both so much fun that I can’t see why you’d want to. Fans of Wrede’s Sorcery & Cecelia will like this for sure, as will anyone who likes historical fantasy, Regency romance with a little magic thrown in (a la Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, but less magic-y and much lighter), or who is just looking for a fun, funny, and engaging read.

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Other Reviews: Jenny’s Books
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First Line: Cold rain drizzled on the dark London streets – at least, it looked cold.

Cover Thoughts: Pretty accurate to the book, although Kim didn’t have a candle with her during the actual scene. I mean, what kind of crappy ex-thief carries a bright light with them when they’re trying to sneaking around?

Vocab: (see the whole list)

  • p. 49: “There was also a slim chance that sitting quietly might keep her from committing any of the social solecisms that would earn her a trimming from Mrs. Lowe once they returned home.” – a breach of good manners or etiquette.
  • p. 59: ““You can study your orisons and invocations while you wait,” Mairelon said, and disappeared down the back hall before Kim could say anything more.” – a prayer, but in this case I think it’s probably closer to its original meaning of oration.
  • p. 103: ““So?” Madame studied Kim a moment, frowning. “Yes, yes, I see. The white sarcenet, then, and the lilac.”” – a fine, soft fabric, often of silk, made in plain or twill weave and used esp. for linings.
  • p. 139: ““That depends largely on just whom one is calling upon,” Lady Wendall replied gently. “Wear your jaconet morning dress with the pink ribbons, I think.”” – a cotton fabric of light weight, usually finished as cambric, lawn, organdy, voile, etc., used in the manufacture of clothing and bandages.
  • p. 179: “Kim sent Wilson off with her bonnet and pelisse, while she went up to join the family.” – a woman’s long cloak with slits for the arms.
4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2010 6:37 am

    Have you seen that Patricia Wrede is coming out with a new edition that has both Mairelon and Magician’s Apprentice? It is here. I already ordered it even though I have both books already. I like the new size and cover.

  2. May 7, 2010 11:40 am

    Oo, I want the new Mairelon omnibus, compleat Mairelon or whatever they’re going to call it. And you’re so right about Mairelon’s mother, she’s delightful; but in the end, his aunt turned out to be rather good too. I love it when that happens, an unpleasant character proves useful without stepping out of character.

    • May 12, 2010 10:08 am

      Jenny – I totally agree about Mairelon’s aunt… in-character ass-kickery is always appreciated!

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