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  1. This is a short book, some 250 pages long and very accessible. That's about all I can come up with to describe it so I'll quote directly from Amazon : Piranesi lives in the House. Perhaps he always has. In his notebooks, day after day, he makes a clear and careful record of its wonders: the labyrinth of halls, the thousands upon thousands of statues, the tides that thunder up staircases, the clouds that move in slow procession through the upper halls. On Tuesdays and Fridays Piranesi sees his friend, the Other. At other times he brings tributes of food to the Dead. But mostly, he is alone. Messages begin to appear, scratched out in chalk on the pavements. There is someone new in the House. But who are they and what do they want? Are they a friend or do they bring destruction and madness as the Other claims? Lost texts must be found; secrets must be uncovered. The world that Piranesi thought he knew is becoming strange and dangerous. The Beauty of the House is immeasurable; its Kindness infinite. I have to say this is the most original story I've read in a very long time. Well written, atmospheric and keeps the reader guessing even after the end - furthermore it's not hard to read! Heartedly recommended. ETA There really was a man called Piranesi, famous, for among other things, etchings of imaginary prisons of which there are 16 - 16 is a significant number in the book
  2. Centuries ago when magic still existed in England, the greatest magician of them all was the Raven King. A human child brought up by fairies, the Raven King blended fairy wisdom and human reason to create English magic. Now, in the early 1800s, he is barely more than a legend, and most of England, with its mad King and its dashing poets, no longer believes. In the city of York, however, a society of magicians meets upon the third Wednesday of every month to read each other long, dull papers upon the history of English magic. It is of their opinion that there are no practising magicians left in the country of England. Little do they know that they are soon to encounter the reclusive Mr Norrell of Hurtfew Abbey who will cause the stone statues of the Cathedral of York to speak and dance — and a beautiful young woman to be raised from the dead, with the help of the gentleman with thistle-down hair. Mr Norrell goes to London, persuaded that he must make his gifts available to the government. News spreads of the return of magic to England, and Norrell swiftly becomes a man of influence and distinction. He meets a brilliant young magician and takes him as a pupil. Jonathan Strange is charming, rich and arrogant. His extraordinary talent will take him to the Napleonic Wars where he will conjure angels with flaming lances and move woods, rivers and even cities to confuse and confound the French. But, unknown to Jonathan Strange, the restoration of English magic is founded upon a lie, and he and his wife Arabella will one day have to pay the price for that lie. To save Arabella, Strange will have to endure madness, until he finally learns the true nature of English magic — and its creator. <iframe width="120" height="268" scrolling="no" frameborder=0 src="http://rcm-uk.amazon.co.uk/e/cm?t=bookgrouponli-21&l=st1&search=%20Jonathan%20Strange%20and%20Mr%20Norrell&mode=books-uk&p=8&o=2&f=ifr&bg1=C6E7DE&lc1=082984&lt1=_blank"> <table border='0' cellpadding='0' cellspacing='0' width='120' height='268'><tr><td><A HREF='http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/redirect-home/bookgrouponli-21' target=_blank><img src="http://images-eu.amazon.com/images/G/02/associates/recommends/default_120x268.gif" width=120 height=268 border="0" access=regular></a></td></tr></table></iframe>
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