Mairelon the Magician, Patricia C. Wrede

Y’all, I’m applying for graduate school.  It is stressful as hell.  I’m telling you because the more people I tell, the more shaming it would be for me not to go through with it.  And yes!  I am using shame as a motivator!  If it can beat the crap out of me every time I do something wrong, then by God I can make it work for me to do something constructive AND AWESOME.  Since launching on this project of telling everyone, I have outlined my personal statement, asked for two recommendations, started an online application, and found the hard copy of my GRE scores.   So there.

I mention this because all the anxiety of this has made it necessary for me to read very unstressful books.  I had to take a break from The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher – although I am enjoying it! – because dude, a murder investigation has lots of facets.  Lots of elements that all have to be tied down and managed before you can proceed.  I am abandoning it not because it is sad that a three-year-old boy got murdered brutally (though that is sad) but because it reminds me too much of applying to grad school.

I read Mairelon the Magician instead.  When I was a little girl, oh how I loved Patricia C. Wrede.  I admired her desperately, and I even wrote her a letter to tell her so.  AND SHE WROTE BACK.  She wrote this lovely long letter where she told me how to be a proper writer (I still have a copy of it somewhere), and I believe that my ability to be objective about her books was shot to hell at that instant.

In my opinion – though maybe I just like Regency novels – Wrede is at her best with these alternate-England books set in Regency times, where magicians are part of the fabric of European society. Sorcery and Cecelia is my favorite of all her books, and I love Mairelon the Magician and its sequel, Magician’s Ward, nearly as much.

Guttersnipe Kim is caught snooping around in the caravan of a magician called Mairelon, and he takes her on as an assistant.  As is wont to happen in books though not (I suspect) in real life.  He is under suspicion for stealing a set of powerfully magical items; he has managed to recover one of them and is trying to track down the other five.  And so, of course, is everyone else in the world.  Hijinks ensue.

If you absolutely forced me to say something bad about Mairelon, I guess a case could be made for there being too many characters.  They are always dashing out and in while you try frantically to remember who they are and what is motivating them to chase after Mairelon or the Saltash platter or each other.  But more in a, you know, a bawdy French farce way, than in a literary flaw way.  Mairelon the Magician is just fun, and friendly – there’s chicanery, and conjuring tricks, and dodgy Regency thugs.  Hooray.

If you have written a (possibly less biased) review, let me know and I will link to it!

  • Schatzi

    Ooh, what’re you going for?

    And those books sound fun; I’ll have to check them out.

    • Writing. Hopefully! Keeping my fingers crossed for it.

  • First! Congrats on going to grad school! 😀

    Second! Whenever I see “Patricia C. Wrede” I think “Caroline Stevermer” (because of Sorcery and Cecelia) and then I think “Shoot, I’ve still got A College of Magics on my TBR pile. Should get on that.” So thanks for reminding me, lol.

    Third! This book’s on my wishlist, but I wasn’t sure if I should get a copy for myself RIGHT NOW or wait until someone posts it on Bookmooch. What do you think? Is it a RIGHT NOW kind of book?

    • Eek, don’t congratulate me yet. We’ll see how it goes. 😛 As for Mairelon the Magician being RIGHT NOW, I don’t really know. It’s very delightful and charming, but you’re probably fine to wait until it comes up on Bookmooch. You know, it’s not the sort of book where you’re only living a half life until you read it.

  • Good luck on grad school. It will be so fun – you’ll see! Mairelon the Magician sounds way more fun than a book about a 3-yr-old boy who gets brutally murdered!

    • You know, the child murder book, actually very entertaining. It happened in Victorian times, so it’s less upsetting because it has all this time between us and it. But yeah, Mairelon is still a lot more fun!

      Thanks for the grad school good wishes!

  • Good luck with grad school, Jenny!

    Sorcery and Cecilia is a book I’ve been meaning to read for ages. And now I want this too.

    • Thanks! Hopefully I will get in & not have to make the embarrassing confession that nobody wanted me. 😛

  • Good Luck! I am right there with you! I had to put off taking the GRE because I was so stressed and just was not ready! I’ve been making my final choices for schools, but, man, it’s so difficult! We can be stressed out and grad schooled out together ;p

    • Good luck to you too! I am finding it very helpful to make a list for every day of the week, of the things I have to accomplish that day. That way I can get some very stressful things accomplished just for the pleasure of being able to scratch them off my list.

  • I’ve never heard of Patricia Wrede. Just checked her on Amazon and they really sound like books I would enjoy. More to add on my wishlist!
    Good luck on grad school!

    • Thanks! And do check out Patricia C. Wrede if you get a chance – she wrote a series of fairy-tale-subverting stories, starting with Dealing with Dragons that are rather fun. They may be the only ones of her books properly in print right now, apart from the Sorcery & Cecelia series.

      • anna

        No, Snow White and Rose Red, and The Seven Towers were both just republished.

        • Shame. Two of your least favorites. They couldn’t re-release The Raven Ring?

  • I thought I left a comment but apparently it didn’t stick…oh well!

    Good luck with your applications for grad school and well done you for being brave enough to go for it – I got as far as that last year and then never followed through – fear of not being good enough held me back, even though I was already given a place after a preliminary interview!

    I am starting a creative writing class tonight as it happens, and if it goes well, and I have enough confidence by the end, I think I might just make that MA application this year…we’ll see.

    Keep us updated!!

    • I’m quite terrified of not being good enough, to be honest. That’s why I’ve launched on this thing of telling everyone I see that I’m applying. No way can I back out now, even if I desperately want to. Do try again yourself & thanks so much for the good wishes. 🙂

  • I just found your blog through Nymeth’s blog…congrats on applying to grad school! I have long wanted to go back to school. Keep telling us. You never know who you’ll inspire!

    • Thank you so much – I’m glad I mentioned this. Y’all are all so sweet & supportive. I will keep everyone posted. 🙂

  • Katy

    Well, you’re farther along in your applications than I am. I got as far as asking for two recommendations, and then froze like a deer in headlights. But I’ll have to go through with it, because I too have told everyone I’m applying. Aren’t personal statements the most horrible things in the world?

    • Personal statements are a beast. I’ve finally finished a draft of mine and sent it to friends & relations for inspection. By the time I had reached the last paragraph I want to take the whole thing & rip it up & burn it. (Fortunately it was on the computer & not on paper.)

  • I went to grad school twice, once at 25 and once at 31, so I know the stress you were under. And the second time my GRE scores were consider out of date, so I had to take it again!

    I LOVE grad school. I would almost consider doing it a third time, but I might be beyond wanting to hand in assignments…I have my blogging life to think of afterall.

    And the fear is understandable, but I find that after first blush, both the application process and showing up for classes is nothing to worry about. Everyone else is just as worried as you.

  • One more thing, just remember that everyone needs an editor. So show your draft statement to people whose writing skill you trust and have them get out the red pen.

    I know I thought I had written masterpieces only to find out I still had a few drafts to go.

    • Thanks for the advice – I definitely am getting as many people to look at my statement as I can. And I do miss school, and analyzing books without feeling like there were other things I should be doing, so I really hope this all works out. 🙂

  • I have never heard of Wrede before now but she sounds like someone I could use in my life. I quite understand the switch in books – stress sees me headed straight for Georgette Heyer, E. F. Benson, E. M. Delafield. And I could add Diana Wynne Jones to that list too. But oh good luck for grad school – I remember when I went back how right it felt and how pleased I was. Keep us posted on how it all goes!

    • I just have to read Benson & Delafield. I have heard nothing but nice things about them. Thanks for your good wishes about grad school! I am making progress with the application business and hopefully will soon be shot of the whole application mess and on to the un-proactive waiting period.

  • Schatzi

    Since I loved Dealing with Dragons when I was younger, I had to check out Sorcery & Cecelia based on this, and I think it’s just darling so far.

    • Oh, I know, isn’t it sweet? There are two sequels that were recently written, of which I’ve only read one (not that great, sadly), and my sister says the other, the third, is better but still not as good as Sorcery & Cecelia. I love letter books!

  • Congrats on applying to grad school! I started a grad program before I realized I didn’t want to go to grad school and I dropped out.

    I LOVED Dealing with Dragons. I read some of the other fair tale books by Wrede but not too many. Time for a Dealing with Dragons reread, I’m thinking…thanks for reminding me how I loved it!

    • Enjoy the reread! I’m very tempted to buy the nice new box set of the dragons books, even though I know that I don’t need them. But the box set is so boxy and nice, and I love the idea of box sets…

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