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JS&MN - Chapters 21-25

This week was chapters 21-25, from "The cards of Marseilles" to "The education of a magician".

Childermass goes with Vinculus to the Pineapple alehouse to convince Vinculus to leave London. Vinculus, however, has already determined to leave. In the Pineapple, though, Childermass takes out a pack of Marseilles cards and Childermass tells Vinculus he's going to meet someone to deliver a message. Childermass says in surprise, after Vinculus lays out cards for Childermass, that Vinculus is one of the few to possess almost no knowledge but actual talent. Vinculus insists on telling Norrell's fortune, which turns the whole deck into one card--the Emperor, with dark hair and a black bird. Norrell tries to find the book Vinculus says his prophecy was taken from, but is unable to scry it; Childermass is unable to use his cards to read it either; more conventional means of trying to ask Vinculus's multiple wives fail too.

The story then moves to Jonathan Strange as he is riding towards his fiancée Arabella Woodhope, when he meets a man under a hawthorn bush. Having passed by the strange knot of villagers before, he is compelled to ride back and see what's the matter, as he thinks about what Arabella will say about it. The hawthorn bush turns out to be Vinculus, who passes on the prophecy to Strange, who initially rejects it, saying he is not even a magician. He does acquire Norrell's spells, stolen by Vinculus from Childermass. Jonathan Strange ends up announcing that he's decided on an occupation--he will be a magician. For his first attempt, he tries out one of Norrell's spells, and to his shock it works.

Strange meets Mr Segundus and Mr Honeyfoot (from the first chapter) who are in Wiltshire and visiting the Shadow House. Segundus has a dream while being at the riverbank, and accidentally manages to be in Strange's dream, thereby wrecking what he was trying to do--summon Lady Absalom to ask her questions. Honeyfoot and Segundus convince Strange to go to London to talk to Norrell; Strange is trying to study but unable because Norrell has bought up nearly all the books he can lay his hands on.

Their first meeting does not go well, but on the second meeting, once Strange demonstrates a bit of magic, Norrell is unexpectedly won over. He takes Strange on as his student and promptly draws up a three-to-four year plan of study for him. This also means giving Strange one of his books, which poor Norrell seems to have some difficulty doing initially. Norrell seems to like his student very much, and Strange is instrumental in preventing the alliance of Napoleon and Emperor Alexander.


Strange is a rather fun character, and he seems to have some pretty weird ideas of what constitutes "...He supposed he ought to allow a proper interval between his father's funeral and his proposal of mrriages. Three days seemed about right, so on the morning of the fourth day...he set off for Gloucestershire."

The strategies that the War Office are coming up with are really funny too. Their idea of putting bad dreams into Napoleon's head (which are not successful because they think Norrell isn't very good at coming up with nightmares.)

The name "Mrs Janet Archialdovna Barsukova" BWAHAHA

I really like how Clarke has included both versions of the story of Margaret Ford--the second prosaic one immediately after the sensational one. About midway through the first part of the story the "Margaret is horrible except when she has children" had rather uncomfortable undertones for me, but in the second following one it's clear Clarke sees it too.

Next week will be chapters 26-30, from "Orb, crown and sceptre" to "The book of Robert Findhelm".

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/156182.html.



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