A Declaration Of The Rights Of Magicians By H.G. Parry
This review I am going to do that thing I don’t normally do. I’m going to provide the summary, for both our sake. I need to ensure that I do A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians and its creator, H.G. Parry every due it deserves (including you having a solid summary of what it is about), and that you understand that I am taking every precaution to not spoil ANYTHING. The temptation to spoil so many things is so high that I feel like a fiend shaking with the need to unleash all the magnificent things. But I can’t. And I won’t.
I have, actually set a goal. I will NOT mention any specific events, reveals etc. past 100 pages. Those are all safe. Generalities that are not spoilery, of course, I will speak to because that’s how I have always review books. But I don’t deal in spoilers and will continue not to. So, in order to abide by these two principals. I will provide the summary.
Buddy Reads Co-Hosting With Becky @CrookBooks
I quit. I give and wave the white flag. Apparently, for whatever reason, Becky is not yet sick of me. I don’t have an explanation for it. We just keep finding books to read together. Forest of Souls is next with Witches Steeped In Gold and, I think Gilded Ones as buddy reads for next year?! Maybe I’m imagining that, but I don’t think so. At this point I figure she’s just co-hosting my site. So, there’s that. You know. Like a podcast. Co-hosting, with Becky. And so welcome to Becky co-hosting my read and review of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H.G. Parry (her review is linked above). And it is a good thing to have a co-host because you know me…
A Declaration Of The Rights Of Magicians By H.G. Parry- Goodreads Summary:
A sweeping tale of revolution and wonder in a world not quite like our own, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a genre-defying story of magic, war, and the struggle for freedom in the early modern world.
It is the Age of Enlightenment — of new and magical political movements, from the necromancer Robespierre calling for revolution in France to the weather mage Toussaint L’Ouverture leading the slaves of Haiti in their fight for freedom, to the bold new Prime Minister William Pitt weighing the legalization of magic amongst commoners in Britain and abolition throughout its colonies overseas. But amidst all of the upheaval of the early modern world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilization into violent conflict. And it will require the combined efforts of revolutionaries, magicians, and abolitionists to unmask this hidden enemy before the whole world falls to darkness and chaos.
I hope this will serve to comfort you as you go forth that
- You have a solid grip as to what A Deceleration of the Rights of Magicians is about (although really that isn’t at all a fair warning)
- I am not giving away any major, specific spoilers, as always. This is my oath by this website. I don’t unless noted and warning given. And this is not one of those times.
DO NOT. LET ME REPEAT. DO NOT. DO NOT SLAM THIS BOOK DOWN OR TRY TO SLAM THIS BOOK DOWN IN A DAY. Most readers, I imagine will read that sentence and think, is this a thing? I speak, mostly to other reviewers out there, truly. This is not a book you can pick up and expect to just throw back in a day. It is dense, but definitely not in a bad way. Anyone who has been around my site long enough knows that I am diagnosed and medicated for ADD. I can’t deal with twenty pages to describe a tree. I can’t handle overly descriptive, lack of action type books (see 800-page Adult Fantasy books). A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is NOT THAT BOOK.
Thank You to Orbit for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
What I mean is that H.G. Parry is working with a lot of material (specifics coming later). To rush through it would be a sin. Not only is Parry working with a lot of material, but she is working with it masterfully. To rush through it as a reader would not only contribute to you missing the intricate blending on her craftsmanship, but it would be completely overwhelming. You would end up either stopping altogether, or walking away with a negative view of an exquisite work.
Second, do you have to be a history geek to enjoy A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians? No. You don’t even have to love history. I would imagine not having a vitriol hatred of history to be helpful. Outside of Kiersten White (And I Darken and Guinevere Deception), I haven’t read a lot of Alternative History because it tends to veer into the romantic. This does not. What it does do is align to the events leading up to and during the French Revolution with brilliant accuracy (with magic, of course). But you don’t need to know any of that to enjoy it.
About This Alternative History Thing…
The bulk of my historical curiosities and my minor in America History surrounded the American Revolution. There is overlap there between Jefferson, Lafayette and the French Revolution. I will say that I was surprised and a bit disappointed that they didn’t make an appearance in A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians. I’m sure Parry had her reasons for this, and it is nitpicking to bringing it up. I mean hell, the title is taken from the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen.
I only bring it up because Parry sticks to the history of that time period with such meticulous accuracy that it is mind-blowing. It isn’t just the historical figures, times or places. Beyond that, it goes right down to the speeches (I’ll go further into that in the questions below), documents, events and how one dominoes into the other. It is completely and utterly mind-blowing.
When I first spoke of this to Becky, I called it code-switching but that isn’t really the right term. Through my educational lens that made the most sense as a vehicle to explain what I meant. Parry effortlessly and expertly switches between the correct vernaculars and dialects in correlation to that time period, and each location with ease. This makes it even more authentic and incredible to read. She truly wrote those pieces as a historian, in my opinion.
What makes this alternative history, the one thing that makes A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, alternative? It is the incredible magic system that is interwoven throughout this entire time period. A period pitting aristocrats vs. commoners in a fight to bring about the rights of commoners, the fight of abolitionists, and a removal of a monarch.
Captain obvious much? I mean what is the one thing that could make politics any messier than magic… let alone dark magic? Especially during one of the bloodiest, nastiest revolutions (yes, including the American Revolution- at least they had George Washington to fall back on as President and a semblance of government in place), to boot. The French? They had nothing. And then rebooted, restarted and rebooted again. There were councils and committees, but at no point was the country really ever on the same page. It was a MESS.
The brain of the Revolution, Maximilien Robespierre and his best friend, who “lit” the fire of the Revolution, Camille Desmoulins are a mesmerer and a shadowmancer. However, Camille has always been “spellbound” by a bracelet on his wrist that prevents him, a commoner, from utilizing his magic. Robespierre’s vision is of a France where commoners are as free as Aristocrats to utilize their magic.
On the other side of the channel, William Pitt, youngest Prime Minister in history, is fighting with the breaking of spellbound magic for a whole different reason- abolishing slavery. If the moral atrocities aren’t enough to bring everyone to end it, the physical proof of its horrific abomination, surely will be. Using spellbound magic, slaves are kept underfoot going long past their mind’s and body’s actual abilities, literally working themselves to death in a matter of years.
Pitt, Thomas Carter, and William Wilberforce bring evidence of the atrocities slaves suffered. Now they were fighting to bring an end to this hideous practice.
Men Become What They Fear Most
Nothing worth having is ever easy. Try to take the short-cut or the easy way and you are likely to make a mess of it all. It might seem, at the time, to be the perfect solution. It rarely is. And man, in its ignorant genius, often becomes everything they hate, everything they try not to defend against. They want peace, they go to war. You want to defeat mortality. Have children.
Someday I’ll get through a review without quoting Marvel. Probably not. But most of what I just said is not only true long before Marvel but was also the basis of Avengers: Age of Ultron. It is why Tony Stark couldn’t be trusted to create a super bot… a suit of armor around the world (Don’t bring up Endgame, not the point).
Everything Stark feared, he put into Ultron. He went too far. Magic, technology? Same thing. Same result. You take something you don’t understand, and you mix it with politics? It won’t end well.
Nothing and no one is beyond this idea. You have a vision you believe to be correct and then become so fearful of losing it that you start doing all the wrong things. You become paranoid and cut out those that you trusted above all. And nothing good comes of that. Especially when someone, or something is there to play on those fears, the anger, the desire, and is willing to handle it all. For a very, tiny price.
It is never small. It is never tiny. And nothing good ever comes of it. So, when a dark figure comes to Robespierre and offers him support in bringing his version of France to fruition by awakening weak magic in his blood? Robespierre jumps at the chance, for France, of course.
Things you don’t expect in Alternative History for 300, Alex.
Dark Magic running through the Prime Minister’s bloodlines.
I’m gonna leave that there and move on.
Because I’m mean. And because I promised not to spoil anything.
Wrapping Up With Some Thoughts
- The pacing is fantastic. Again, just don’t rush it. That’s all I’m gonna say there. This book is so good, in fact, that I believe I’m going to buy the audible to reread it (as long as the narrator is good) because, yeah.
- The Holmes and Watson dynamics between Wilberforce and Pitt is brilliant, heartwarming and just hysterical.
- To expand on the above– there are MANY parts of this book that are just dead-pan funny and it is perfect.
- The main and side characters, are well flushed out through dialogue and action. As aligned to history as A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is, H.G. Parry never just sits back and rest on it. The world, the characters, and the events are vividly painted without ever being overdone.
Lastly, and as generally as possible… I keep mentioning dark magic, blood magic… if you put two and two together… there are well… just put those things together in your head and well… IT IS A PARTY!
I HOPE YOU LOVE THIS BOOK AS MUCH AS WE DID… on to the QUESTIONS
What other historical period would you like to be written to include magic?
I can’t believe we both have Ring Shout on our TBR…
The American Revolution, without a doubt. I kept hoping America’s debate on whether to join the French Revolution would somehow show up in here, but it didn’t. That is just a preference thing, not a knock.
Do you think the inclusion of magic would fix 2020?
Short cuts never worked. And people confuse power for peace… for Covid? God I’d hope so- for everything else? It could too easily get into the wrong hands and be used to make everything much worst. And that is 2020’s brand.
Did you go into this book knowing about the historical period? And did that affect your reading/enjoyment in any way?
I know more about the American Revolution, than the French Revolution to recognize when names and actual speeches were being utilized. I also knew dates, events etc. So, I guess I knew a bit. The French Revolution isn’t why I chose this book. I like revolutions in general. I’m that type of person, I suppose. It definitely didn’t hurt.
I laughed when Becky said- can I do multiple quotes- sure cause I’m gonna give you a speech from Prime Minister, William Pitt:
I find it difficult, personally, to see evidence that the people of Africa are uniquely susceptible to dark magic in the fact that they are bound by a spell designed to bind them. One point cannot be denied: Africa does not have Europe’s great cities, nor her libraries, nor her technological advantages. But think of this. Why might some Roman senator, reasoning on the same principles, and pointing to British barbarians, have predicted with the equal boldness, ‘There is a people that will never rise to civilization- there is a people destined never to be free- a people without the necessary understanding for the attainment of useful arts, and created to form a supply of slaves for the rest of the world.’ Might this not have been said as truly of Britain herself as can now be said by us of the inhabitants of Africa?
We may live to behold the natives of Africa engaged in the calm occupations of industry, in the pursuits of a just and legitimate commerce. We may behold the beams of science and philosophy breaking in upon their land, which, at some happy period in still later times, may blaze with full luster. Then may we hope that Africa, though last of all the quarters of the globe, shall enjoy at length, in the evening of her days, those blessings which have descended upon us in a much earlier period of the world.
(Part of the original speech: Mr. William Pitt on the Abolition of the Slave Trade, delivered to the House of Commons April 2, 1792)