A Matter of Magic is two books actually. I thought about getting the books separately, but decided the cover was prettier and I'd have to get the separate editions used and they may not have matched... Anyway, I got the omnibus.
Because I suck at describing things, here's what they're about:
Mairelon the Magician, book 1:
Kim doesn't hesitate when a stranger offers her a small fortune to break into the travelling magician's wagon in search of a silver bowl. Kim isn't above a bit of breaking-and-entering. Having grown up a waif in the dirty streets of London-disguised as a boy!-has schooled her in one hard lesson: steal from them before they steal from you.
But there is something odd about this magician. He isn't like the other hucksters and swindlers that Kim is used to. When he catches her in the act, Kim thinks she's done for. Until he suggests she become his apprentice. Kim wonders how tough it could be faking a bit of hocus pocus.
But Mairelon isn't an act. His magic is real.
The Magician's Ward, book 2:
Happy in her new life as an apprentice to the powerful magician Mairelon, Kim is horrified when a nosy relative determines to turn Kim - a former street urchin - into. . .a lady! But real trouble begins when several wizards of Kim's acquaintance disappear. Then Mairelon's magic disappears!
I love Regency romances. I love fantasy. This book (these books?) is a little of both, with some mystery thrown in, which I've recently gotten into. I can't begin to explain how much I loved and enjoyed it. Well, there's the geek way: SQUEEE!!
If you've read any books by Patricia C. Wrede, you've probably read the Enchanted Forest Chronicles; first books I read by her and I was a junior in high school, I think. A Matter of Magic, Mairelon, whatever you want to call these books were for a bit older audience.
The Regency part is, from what I've read of other Regencies, pretty accurate. She captured the world better than some romance writers, who dominate the Regency era. Bow street runners, Drury Lane, the opera, Napoleon Bonaparte... Not to mention the silliness of Polite Society!
The fantasy part is great. Magic isn't a big secret in this world. Wizards are supposed to be a little odd. There's even a Ministry for Wizardry. A Royal College. Plenty of smart wizards, and a Frenchwoman wizard, a Russian prince wizard. Magic is, well, magic. It's enchanting, pun intended. When spells go bad... And never, ever say a spell in your native tongue.
I have rudimentary experience with mysteries, so I can't make an intelligent comment on it, other than saying, like the rest of it, was pretty interesting and surprising.
I've been useless the past two days. I read Mairelon the Magician yesterday started it in the morning, finished it last night, and started The Magician's Ward this morning and finished it quickly. Less than 12 hours, between classes and animal care.
I don't know when's the last time I read a book I just couldn't put down. I mean, even with books I love, like a Stephen Lawhead or Nectar from a Stone, I can stop anytime. It doesn't bother me to take breaks. I stretch it out as long as I need to.
I didn't want to do anything the past two days. Nothing. I wanted to sit and read this book.