Review: Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho

Sorcerer to the Crown
Book cover: A red mandala

Magic and mayhem collide with the British elite in this whimsical and sparkling debut.

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, freed slave, eminently proficient magician, and Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers—one of the most respected organizations throughout all of Britain—ventures to the border of Fairyland to discover why England’s magical stocks are drying up.

But when his adventure brings him in contact with a most unusual comrade, a woman with immense power and an unfathomable gift, he sets on a path which will alter the nature of sorcery in all of Britain—and the world at large…

I was very excited about Sorcerer to the Crown, as it is written by a Malaysian author and it’s a fantasy novel! How awesome is this! I decided to read it for Asian Lit Bingo.

This book is a very character-driven novel. Zacharis is the first black man to be a magician in Britain and also a freed slave. Prunella is a young, multiracial girl working at a girls’ school. Both of them have to deal with oppression (racism, sexism, classism, etc.) in this historical fiction story.

I enjoyed learning more about the background characters as well, as they were all so different and interesting. It was interesting to see how people of different social classes, countries/magical realms, genders and ethnicities felt about magic, and how this was influenced by the intersection of identities.

I feel like a lot of the minor characters were only introduced in passing, thus we never got to know that much about them. I wish that these characters had been developed more.

There were two aspects that I didn’t enjoy. The first is that the character with the personal pronoun “it”, is killed at the end, thus killing the only non-binary character in the book. The second is that it is said that women are stronger at blood magic than men because they get their periods, and none of the characters state that people who are not women could also get their periods. I know that this is a historical fiction novel, however I think that transgender people can still be included in a historical novel.

This was a fun read but the pacing was a bit too slow for me, and the minor characters weren’t that developed. However, it’s a good introduction to the series, and I will most probably get the next book.

Content warning: the n-word and the word ‘half-caste’ areused several times.

3 stars

Have you read Sorcerer to the Crown?

5 thoughts on “Review: Sorcerer to the Crown – Zen Cho

  1. I have heard such amazing reviews about the book. I really need to read it. Too bad the minor characters did not make much of an impact. And thanks for pointing out the strength related to periods. I will keep that in mind when I pick it up


  2. Thank you for this review!!
    I read it when it came out and it became a favourite, though I wasn’t conscious of these issues at the time and I appreciate that you made me realise this. I need to read it again and review it again as well with that in mind!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s