Who recommends: Robin, JW, Edith, Shelley, Lynn, Catie, Danielle, Julie, Tanya, Rebekah, Margaret, Preeti
Who discommends: Lori
She must write another novel set in this world soon, or I'll go into a decline.--Danielle
Really fun book once I got past the slow start.--Julie
Another of the well-thumbed favourites. The ending was one of the tensest I've ever read, and the heroine's commitment to her land really affected me - that sense of being rooted in a place is something that I have too, and it added an extra dimension to the novel. I loved the 'girl's school' environment at Greenlaw - in fact, looking back, it reminds me in tone of something from a Pamela Dean novel.--Tanya (30 Jul 99)
I really liked most of this book - great feel, fascinating world. Very engrossing style and tone, more like SORCERY & CECILIA that Wrede's books are. I found the ending, however, somehow unsatisfying. The h/h were very happy and good triumphed and all that, but from outside I found it a little sad. I won't say more than that for fear of damaging you all's enjoyment of a great book!--Rebekah (30 Sep 99)
I read this mostly on the train, and it took a while before I got into it. I didn't have any desire to stop reading it, but it did seem very slow, not very involving at first. After a while I got caught up in it, and wanted to keep reading. The romance is subtle, a bit distant, and I wasn't absolutely thrilled by the resolution (though it was interesting).
It's a bit weird. I was having problems with the book partly because I wasn't sure where it was going. Then I wondered if maybe I needed to know, that I wasn't happy reading a book unless it was predictable. But then I read something (or looked at something I'd read) that wasn't predictable, in which I didn't know what was going to happen, and I decided that wasn't the case. Something in the book just didn't catch me sufficiently.--Lori (29 Oct 99)
I feel like I'm the last person in the world getting around to reading this gem! In an alternate Edwardian era (although set in Europe instead of England), Faris Nallaneen--strong-willed, unpolished Duchess of Galazon--is accepted into Greenlaw, a college of magic for women. She very reluctantly left her beloved Galazon, where her uncle-guardian may well be plotting to keep rulership of the duchy from her. But although she doesn't expect to learn much, Greenlaw does end up shaping her into a force to be reckoned with. And when she's recalled back to Galazon, she comes fully into her own.
This was just a really good story, fitting into the "fantasy of manners" sub-genre. Faris had to navigate the world of Greenlaw and then make her way in the world, which includes a stop in Paris before heading back to triumph over the tricky politics of Galazon and her neighbors. Along the way, her feelings for her loyal bodyguard take her hopelessly by surprise.
The story felt like it was taking a stroll through Faris' college years (half the book?), but it became more heart-pounding once Faris is called upon to leave Greenlaw (i.e., the story became more unputdownable.) The ending was surprising, with a tinge bittersweetness, but all the more moving for it. I could have spent much more time in this world and with these people.
A COLLEGE OF MAGICS was subtle and witty and formal as befits this type of book. But that thread of Faris' deep longing for the things she loves and stands to never have within her grasp--i.e., her land and the man she's falling in love with--catapulted the book from a cerebral delight to a more emotionally gripping one.
I hadn't realized I was thirsty was a book like this to make for a change from all the flashier contemporary fantasies starring kickass heroines that has become more standard fare for me these days.
Like Rebekah, I bet people who love A COLLEGE OF MAGICS also like Stevermer and Patricia Wrede's SORCERY AND CECELIA and maybe even Patricia McKillip's ALPHABET OF THORN. I'm hoping the sequel to COLLEGE, titled A SCHOLAR OF MAGICS is also a winner. It apparently features Jane, Faris' sophisticated best friend and traveling companion for much of COLLEGE, and is set at Glasscastle, which is the magic college for men.--Preeti (2 Apr 05)