Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke

"The book is about the greed and wonder scholars feel in the presence of books; the perils of marrying a magician and thus attracting the attention of the selfish and amoral faeries; the satisfactions we can only achieve by conversing with other people who are devoted to the same obscure pursuits we ourselves cannot live without. It is, in short, a book about the irrational love of knowledge, the past, the unknown, and the beloved. Since the only kind of love worth talking about is irrational, and the irrational is usually dangerous, it may follow that Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a demonstration of the perils and pleasures of attempting to master that which one loves but does not understand."

At the dawn of the nineteenth century, two very different magicians emerge to change England's history. In the year 1806, with the Napoleonic Wars raging on land and sea, most people believe magic to be long dead in England--until the reclusive Mr. Norrell reveals his powers, and becomes a celebrity overnight. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician, the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome, and daring, Strange is the very opposite of Norrell. He becomes Norrell’s student, and they join forces in the war against France. But Strange is increasingly drawn to the wildest, most perilous forms of magic, straining his partnership with Norrell, and putting at risk everything else he holds dear.