This story is ridiculously British. There is nothing more British than a separation of magicians between the snubbed practical magician and the highly regarded theoretical magician. It is an admirable pursuit to study magic, but not practice it--until Mr. Norrell arrives. He legally prohibits the theoretical magicians from pursuing their careers, and thus becomes the only real magician in England--until that upstart Jonathan Strange tries his hand at it. What follows is a lengthy, complex partnership between the two men that explores all aspects of magic and friendship--from the stubborn dullness of Norrell to the modern curiosity of Strange. The book harkens back to the traditional idea of a novel, full of meandering plot and a multitude of secondary characters that ultimately provide a sparkling perspective of both men and their country. Any fan of fantasy tomes will appreciate the subtlety of this novel.
In nineteenth-century England, all is going well for rich, reclusive Mr Norell, who has regained some of the power of England's magicians from the past, until a rival magician, Jonathan Strange, appears and becomes Mr Norrell's pupil.