Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho

sorcerer-to-the-crown-by-Zen-ChoSorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
Series: Sorcerer Royal #1
Genre: Historical Fantasy
Setting: An alternate Regency England
Published by Ace, 2015
Format: e-Arc (Release Date: September 1, 2015)
–I received a review copy of this book from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.
384 pages
Grade: B
Synopsis: In this sparkling debut, magic and mayhem clash with the British elite…

The Royal Society of Unnatural Philosophers, one of the most respected organizations throughout all of England, has long been tasked with maintaining magic within His Majesty’s lands. But lately, the once proper institute has fallen into disgrace, naming an altogether unsuitable gentleman—a freed slave who doesn’t even have a familiar—as their Sorcerer Royal, and allowing England’s once profuse stores of magic to slowly bleed dry. At least they haven’t stooped so low as to allow women to practice what is obviously a man’s profession…

At his wit’s end, Zacharias Wythe, Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers and eminently proficient magician, 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 like the world built by Zen Cho–sorcerers, magicians, witches, fairies, dragons, familiars–plus the politics of a magical society.
  • This historic fantasy is set in Regency England so manners are the order of the day.
  • I like that a small village in Malaysia–Janda Baik–is part of this book. I like that Ms. Cho has added some of her heritage to this book.
  • The book has a number of mysteries. Why is England’s magic waning? What is Zacharias’ illness? Why doesn’t Zacharias have a familiar? We do find out all the reasons by the end of the book.
  • Zacharias became Sorcerer Royal when Sir Stephen died. There are many rumors about how he died since Zacharias found him.
  • I love Prunella. She’s an orphan, but doesn’t waste time feeling sorry for herself. She’s very practical. She also has a great deal of magic in her and she uses it very naturally. She doesn’t have much use for formal magic training, but she’s not above using Zacharias’ desire to train her to get to London.
  • Women aren’t held in much esteem in the magic world. They aren’t allowed to practice sorcery or magic though they do little things at home, perhaps in the kitchen. Men are magicians; women are witches.
  • The fact Zacharias is a free black man is interesting in this society. He’s a nuanced character since he’s somewhat naive, but also used to the slights and prejudice of society because he’s a black man.
  • Lady Maria and Sir Stephen Whythe are like parents to Zacharias. They adopted Zacharias, but he has conflicted feelings for Sir Stephen. Sir Stephen bought him and freed him, but also took him away from his real parents. He loves both Lady Maria and Sir Stephen, but also resents Sir Stephen.
  • The interactions between Prunella and Zacharias are fun to read about. They are such different people. She’s very down-to-earth, whereas Zacharias has all the manners of a Regency gentleman.
  • I like how fair Zacharias is in his dealings with people. When he realizes women have magic the same as men he’s ready to train them. Normally women who show any magic inclination are strongly discouraged from using it.
  • The book shows the prejudice not only for any but white men, but also any but white, aristocratic men.
  • I would like to see more of Fairyland in future books. The glimpse we see is interesting and entertaining.
  • There is some romance in the book–just enough so it isn’t too intrusive.
  • Mak Genggang is a very funny, interesting character and a little scary, too!
  • The book takes some surprising turns by the end.


  • The book is full of details–almost too much.
  • Zacharias isn’t really very happy during most of this book. But that’s part of his growth as a character. He has to learn to learn what is important to him.

And a few thoughts . . .

  •  I enjoyed reading this debut fantasy and want to the next in the series.

Have you read this book? How did you like it?

Author info

  • Zen Cho is a London-based Malaysian author of speculative fiction and romance. Her debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, is the first in a historical fantasy trilogy out in September 2015 from Ace/Roc (US) and Pan Macmillan (UK and Commonwealth).

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