Magician’s Ward

By Patricia C. Wrede

Magician’s Ward is the sequel to Mairelon the Magician. I bought the latter first, as is fitting, and just before I started with Fading Memories. At the end of Mairelon the Magician I was quite sure that Kim, the ward, would end up marrying Mairelon in something very close to the classic King Cophetua stunt.

Magician’s Ward indeed, and I don’t think I’m giving away spoilers, ends with Kim marrying Mairelon. Magician’s Ward is still an interesting YA book; more so than Mairelon the Magician. It is more clearly set in the world of Sorcery and Cecilia, a C19 Europe of lords, ladies and milords with magic thrown in. A very familiar world, in a way, to readers of Caroline Stevermer’s A College of Magics or Caroline and Patricia’s collaboration Sorcery and Cecilia.

The book is more interesting than Mairelon the Magician because it feels more like a unity; this partly because it keeps more unity of place (just London, instead of London and peripatetics around the countryside), and because the main character, Kim, has grown up a bit.

Of course, the wallowing in C19 richnesses like balls, dresses, libraries and coaches is part of the interest of the book, as is the contrast with the London underworld. Being a YA book, I didn’t expect the same depth as Sarah Waters achieves in Fingersmith, but there is still plenty of nicely researched detail.