How do you like those sand horses?
The above is the trailer for a promised seven-part miniseries based on Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, an award-winning novel by Susanna Clarke. The action takes place during and around the Napoleonic Wars in a world where magic was once active but has long since ceased. The only magicians now are theoretical magicians; they can tell everyone who did what magic when, but they cannot do any spells themselves. Almost everyone is used to this state of affairs, but the people who do go looking find Mr. Norrell (Bertie Carvel), an insignificant-looking man who soon demonstrates–dramatically–that he is a practicing magician. For a while, he is the only one, until Mr. Strange (Eddie Marsan), on a whim, decides to take up the study of magic. Now there are two practicing magicians, men of very different temperament. Not everything goes smoothly between them and, though neither knows it, they have earned the enmity of a powerful ruler in Faerie.
The book is written skillfully, with grace and humor, possessing a narrator with her own wry take on events. In many ways, it resembles a nineteenth-century novel, with room for multiple plots, authorial asides, and plenty of footnotes which the reader is advised to read. What they’ve shown of the miniseries looks very promising.
You might just have time to grab Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell the book or to listen to the excellently done audiobook before the show airs. Then we can share in the fun of watching the miniseries to praise and nitpick the work.