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JS&MN - Chapters 26-30

From "Orb, crown and sceptre" to "The book of Robert Findhelm".

Stephen Black is being dogged by miracles, sent by the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, which he desperately does not want; all he wants is to be free the enchantment, but he is neither able to sway the gentleman nor tell anyone about it--all that comes out is nonsense when he tries. The gentleman causes a crown, an orb, and a scepter to appear before Stephen in such a way that he has to pick them up.

Meanwhile, Jonathan and Arabella Strange are settling into London, and are accumulating their admirers. This is helped by the fact that Jonathan is much more agreeable to performing magic than Norrell, and this does not make Norrell very happy, and he agrees to ship Strange to the Peninsula to help with the war effort. Arabella also speaks to Lady Pole but like Stephen she is unable to say what she wants. Sir Walter obviously believes she is sick.

Upon arriving in Portugal (with his forty books) Strange is unable to make contact with Wellington--he regards Strange as a meddling tool of the Ministers (whose orders he is already annoyed with.) After some time in Lisbon having all his requests denied by Wellington, he joins the army on the road and eventually works his way in: he finds out that the soldiers are having trouble with the roads, and offers to Wellington to create roads that they can travel on easily.

In chapter 30, the view returns to Britain as Norrell--through Childermass--tries to find out where and what has happened to Vinculus' book. It seems that Vinculus' father Clegg had stolen a book from Robert Findhelm and then managed to lose it while drunk. The book in question seems to have been The Book of Magic, written by the Raven King and therefore monumental--if it could be recovered. Meanwhile Stephen is trying fruitlessly to talk to the gentleman with thistle-down hair, who wants to make him King of England, and, in the meantime, discover Stephen's mother's true name for him, as Stephen was named by someone else after she died on the journey.


I love how Clarke says that Mrs Brandy, having worked her life in groceries, had "mapped out her world in its stock".

The way Norrell hoards his books and refuses to let people see them--outbidding everyone, publishing nothing about it that would help other scholars, holding everything so close to his chest so no one can do anything with it--actually makes me angry. I can't stand people like that. He's a miser, except his thing is knowledge about not money. I could deal with his peevishness etc but this part of him infuriates me.

Book murder! What a fascinating idea. One that I don't think makes a lick of sense as far as I'm concerned--you can't murder an idea, a book is merely a physical shell, unless there is only one copy. Though it makes sense in an age without easy duplication via printing presses, digitization, copy machines, etc.

I am about to go abroad for more than a month, departing next week (and will be travelling quite a bit) so I am not sure I will be able to do these weekly things. I should have internet most days I think, so I will still be responding to comments, but entries for new chapters will probably be sporadic. But do feel free to comment on past entries! The door is always open there.

Crosspost: http://silverflight8.dreamwidth.org/156728.html.



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