Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (Bloomsbury), I thought all adult fantasy novels were full of strange kingdoms and warrior princesses, but this delightful 782-page doorstop explores a complex rivalry between an autocratic magician, Mr. Norrell, who, it was said, "hardly ever spoke of magic, and when he did it was like a history lesson," and his upstart apprentice Jonathan Strange, who steals the spotlight from the moment he appears on the scene. When Lord Wellington asks Strange if a magician can kill a man with magic, he replies, "I suppose a magician might, but a gentleman never would." More thorns than Jonathan Strange afflict Mr. Norrell as Napoleonic war spells fail, fairy kingdoms interpenetrate the earthly domain, schools of magic spring up like mushrooms in the night, and aristocratic English ladies die and return unhappily to life. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell gives us a glimpse into a mythic world where magic is a fact of life, magicians compete to solve worldly problems, fairy princes raise the dead, prophecies come true, women have no importance whatsoever and human nature manages to mess things up anyway. New Yorker-style illustrations appear throughout the book, and when Vicki Gabereau asked Susanna Clarke whether the drawing of Jonathan Strange was intended to look like a young Prince Charles, the author smiled and said, "It was pure accident."