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A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

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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 Tou 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.


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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 Tou 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.

30 review for A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

    Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest DNF @ p. 184 I had a really tough time reading this book because on the one hand, I wanted to enjoy a dark historical fantasy. In this world, set in the late 18th century, the wealthy aristocracy use magical bracelets to keep the poor from using their magic. Likewise, the slaves who work in plantations are force-fed magical concoctions that turn them into zombies and eradicate their magic, too. Some people have started to think this is wr Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest DNF @ p. 184 I had a really tough time reading this book because on the one hand, I wanted to enjoy a dark historical fantasy. In this world, set in the late 18th century, the wealthy aristocracy use magical bracelets to keep the poor from using their magic. Likewise, the slaves who work in plantations are force-fed magical concoctions that turn them into zombies and eradicate their magic, too. Some people have started to think this is wrong and are starting to say that magic is for everyone. One of these is a vampire and his friend, and the other is Robespierre, a commoner with the ability to mesmerize. And the other is a girl on one of those plantations who has found herself immunized against the zombie cocktails. As I said, I wanted to like this. But oh my God, it was so boring. I kept waiting for the plodding pace to pick up, but it never did. Also, the slavery portions were pretty tough to read. Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  1.5 to 2 stars

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sean Gibson

    There’s a particular phrase to describe books that are grandly ambitious yet intimately familiar, sweeping in scope yet divinely detailed, plot-rich yet character-driven, and written with impeccable style: “H.G. Parry’s digital finger droppings” (I say this assuming she types her work and doesn’t write it longhand; if it turns out I’m incorrect in this assumption, then we should modify the phrase to read “H.G. Parry’s inky finger digit droppings,” though that sounds vaguely inappropriate, and al There’s a particular phrase to describe books that are grandly ambitious yet intimately familiar, sweeping in scope yet divinely detailed, plot-rich yet character-driven, and written with impeccable style: “H.G. Parry’s digital finger droppings” (I say this assuming she types her work and doesn’t write it longhand; if it turns out I’m incorrect in this assumption, then we should modify the phrase to read “H.G. Parry’s inky finger digit droppings,” though that sounds vaguely inappropriate, and also extremely messy.) If I was enamored of Parry’s The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, then I am besotted, bedazzled, besmitten, beboopled, and bedraggled with this book (note: not all of those words apply or are even actual words, but they do all start with “be,” so I am to be congratulated for my initial syllabic consistency). You can reasonably infer that a book whose title riffs on a touchstone of the French Revolution and one of the most influential civil rights documents of all time is going to slather historical references on your cerebellum in the same way my son requests I cover toast with Nutella for him. And, it does. But, not in a heavy-handed way, and not in a way that makes you feel like you’re reading a history book with random bits of fantasticality tossed in for spits and wiggles. Rather, it’s history as accoutrement (what every well-heeled bon vivant is wearing this season, no doubt), with characterization at the forefront even as the mystery deepens in the background and the inexorable pull of monumental events inextricably entwines the fates of our heroes and villains. Strange and Norrell is an obvious comparison, but where that weighty tome revels in the footnoted minutiae of its world, Declaration is more about the flawed individuals who drive, and then become caught up in, sweeping change. Also, vampires. Because did I mention there are vampires? And necromancers? Not to mention weather mages, slaves in revolt, legendary politicians, religious converts, and the undeniable pleasure of being held in the thrall of an author who both reveres the power of stories and words and is a master of putting them to good use. The book ends in medias res, naturally, with a sequel on the way, one which Declaration suggests will feature a well-known French conqueror (my money is on Marcel Marceau, with Le Petomane as a dark horse candidate bringing up the rear). If it were ready tomorrow, it wouldn’t be soon enough. I’m in. If you dig historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, political intrigue, great characterization, and just the right amount of world building, I guarantee you’ll enjoy this. (Bonus fun trivia fact: the "H" in "H.G." stands for "Hannah," which also happens to be my daughter's name. This bit of coincidence in no way influenced my review, but it did delight me when I found out.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Alix Harrow

    Sprawling, rich, indulgent, epic, profoundly political, delightfully magical--if you've ever wanted a magic-infused retelling of late 18th century Atlantic politics, this is your book. I just adore a historical novel that takes history seriously, as more than mere aesthetic, and this book takes the political and moral upheavals of the era with gravity and attention. I loved it. Sprawling, rich, indulgent, epic, profoundly political, delightfully magical--if you've ever wanted a magic-infused retelling of late 18th century Atlantic politics, this is your book. I just adore a historical novel that takes history seriously, as more than mere aesthetic, and this book takes the political and moral upheavals of the era with gravity and attention. I loved it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Ari

    Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon | Waterstones Thank you NetGalley and Redhook for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. Symbols had power only as long as people gave it to them. I've read my share of Historical Fiction novels and those in the Fantasy genre, but it's not often that I read a story that merges both. There's something hallucinatory about mixing the two, especially when one has grown up hearing and learning so much about a specific group of people—such as the aristocracy Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Amazon | Waterstones Thank you NetGalley and Redhook for this ARC. All thoughts and opinions are mine. Symbols had power only as long as people gave it to them. I've read my share of Historical Fiction novels and those in the Fantasy genre, but it's not often that I read a story that merges both. There's something hallucinatory about mixing the two, especially when one has grown up hearing and learning so much about a specific group of people—such as the aristocracy of the French Revolution and its monarchs. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, however, merges the two seamlessly and gives it such a credence that you can almost believe that the inclusion of this magical battle might have been all true. One of the things that stood out to me the most, was how authentic in tone this book was written. H. G. Parry has brought about a story that sounds like it has stepped right off the 18th Century, with the tone, manners and ways of life that one expects as such. The verbiage is so perfectly poised that it's even easier to get lost in the story. While we follow characters from the Caribbean, London and Paris, it's those of Paris that steer the plot. And they are the ones that touched my heart the most. It's impossible not to be moved especially because many were real individuals. To see a version of what they would have experienced—such as Robespierre, Desmoulins, Marat—is fascinating. There is not only certain growth, but intricacy in the path that many of them take that is very original to the novel, an in-depth view of their lives and their struggles. And while I knew how many of them came to an end, it was still impossible not to be touched when they fell. Camille Desmoulins's demise stood out, nearly poetic in sorrow. The one thing that I would have appreciated and sadly don't feel that was attained, was more attention on Fina's part of this story. Considering not just her background but the torture that she lives through, and the fight that she faces to be a free woman, she deserved to stand out. France aside, there is plenty of the journey of England's Wilberforce, Pitt, and their respective supporters and opponents. But when it came to Fina and Jamaica, then later Saint-Domingue and that group of characters... Yes, we get to know them, but not in the way that we become acquainted with the rest. Not unless it played into the path of our mysterious and cruel vampire antagonist. The magic system in this book is not something new, but it was still interesting and who doesn't enjoy watching storms occur by one's will or fire dance for its magician. And this reclusive and dark leading character, who stirs up Robespierre's mind into building a fevered cause that ends in thousands of death holds one of the most interesting kinds of magic. Dark magic is in this novel, expectantly, the most fascinating of its type. This is magic that will not just stir fear, but that will bring action to what others attempt to accomplish. Step right up to see those who can mesmerize, resurrect the dead, and even control others by freeing or withholding the other person's magical abilities. The very human term of vampire in A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is different to the “norm” in the best of ways. There is a lot of political intrigue in this story, more so than I ever care to purposefully seek in fiction, yet it's crucial to the plot and manages to flow without a hitch. And the writing can be dense at times, almost to the point of being slightly dull. But pushing past the latter moments, which never last long, is well worth it. This novel has a lot of heart, and these characters all fight in their own ways for the ultimate price of allowing people to practice magic without the censure that they have had forced upon them for hundreds of years. It's incredibly hopeful at times, and very dispirited in others when history exemplifies just how terrible human beings themselves can be against a system that seeks to aid, thanks our own avarice, anger and selfishness.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Heidi The Reader

    In a world where magic is real and controlled by government authorities, H.G. Parry re-imagines true historical events and people, inviting readers to add an additional layer of conspiracy to movements that changed the course of history like the French Revolution or the slave rebellion in the Caribbean. The premise didn't work for me for a couple reasons. I felt like this book minimized the atrocities that were committed during the era. The slave trade and the French Revolution's cost in both huma In a world where magic is real and controlled by government authorities, H.G. Parry re-imagines true historical events and people, inviting readers to add an additional layer of conspiracy to movements that changed the course of history like the French Revolution or the slave rebellion in the Caribbean. The premise didn't work for me for a couple reasons. I felt like this book minimized the atrocities that were committed during the era. The slave trade and the French Revolution's cost in both human lives and suffering is immeasurable, and it felt somewhat flippant to take those events and say, "Well, magic," as the main driving force behind the conflicts. I felt the same could be said for the subtle twisting of the lives of historic figures. "His quiet voice spoke of a country built on Enlightenment principles, whose people were virtuous, where magic was a free resource to be used for the betterment of all, where food was well distributed and plentiful, where courts were in the hands of the people and not the talons of the Aristocracy, where the poorest Commoner was free to vote and grow and be educated." pg 155 That is not to say that history or historic personages couldn't or shouldn't be in fantasy novels. It is a hallmark of the genre to take a reality, change the rules of that reality, and then tell the story with the new rules. Though if that was what the author was going for, perhaps she should have staged her story in another world or made the focus of the story characters she invented with the real people living their lives in the backgrounds. Taking real events, real people and real world locations to drive the story didn't coalesce into the fantasy novel I believe she was reaching for. I think fantasy, alternative-historical fiction is something that can be done successfully, but I have yet to see its promise fulfilled. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I had the same issues with this story that I had with Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. Students of history may find themselves frustrated by A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians because of the way the true events are spun. I didn't have any specialized knowledge of the era, but a friend who is somewhat of an expert told me the complexity of the time period is so dumbed down that he was distracted by it. "It had seemed so simple after the fall of the Bastille. The National Assembly of Magicians had risen up, exactly as Robespierre had hoped. They had issued a proclamation declaring it the right of all citizens to be free to practice their own magic: a Declaration of the Rights of Magicians." pg 179 Setting my concerns with fantasy clumsily applied to horrific real life events aside, my biggest issue with this book was the glacial pacing. Readers sit through meeting after meeting, and it's incredibly dull. But with the time period we were in, it should have been gripping. I told myself that a big payoff for all of this story building was coming, as the book clocks in at over 500 pages, but I felt like it never materialized. (view spoiler)[Then, in one of my reading pet peeves, the author ends by setting up a sequel. (hide spoiler)] I don't mind a long book. But please, tell the story.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    “For a second, the shadow remained still, and the world around them held its breath. Then, with a shriek that faded into a sudden rush of wind, it dispersed into vapor and blew away into nothing.” I read the author’s first book “The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heap” and I thought that it was charming and witty. Unfortunately, those qualities were missing from this book which is set in England, France and Haiti. It is based on the French Revolution and the Haitian slave revolt - but with magic and va “For a second, the shadow remained still, and the world around them held its breath. Then, with a shriek that faded into a sudden rush of wind, it dispersed into vapor and blew away into nothing.” I read the author’s first book “The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heap” and I thought that it was charming and witty. Unfortunately, those qualities were missing from this book which is set in England, France and Haiti. It is based on the French Revolution and the Haitian slave revolt - but with magic and vampires. It uses real characters such as Prime Minister William Pitt, Toussaint L’Ouverture and Maximilien Robespierre and sets them in a world in which magic is reserved for the aristocracy. It keeps slaves under control, but its' use in war is forbidden. I don’t think that the events depicted in this book really cry out for a fantasy retelling, but my main problem with the book was that it was exceedingly boring. The conversations and debates about magic (including necromancy, fire magic, blood magic weather magic and shadow magic), abolition, commoner’s rights and political maneuvering were interminable. It took me forever to finish reading this. When I was 80% through the book I suddenly realized that there was no way that things were going to be resolved in the final 20% of the book and my heart sank. I do want to know how things are going to turn out but I don’t know whether I have the strength to read part 2 of this. There was just too much talking and it drained the life out of me. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

  7. 4 out of 5

    aarya

    DNF 2020 resolution: do not finish books that are boring me to tears! Because, god, this is boring as hell. And it shouldn’t have been because I’m the perfect audience for this. I majored in political science, took several classes on political philosophy/18th century revolutions, and am extremely interested in this era of history. And yet. So boring. Not enough magic, weird narration/POV shifts, lack of investment to any of the characters after a long time... time to call it quits, I think. Also: DNF 2020 resolution: do not finish books that are boring me to tears! Because, god, this is boring as hell. And it shouldn’t have been because I’m the perfect audience for this. I majored in political science, took several classes on political philosophy/18th century revolutions, and am extremely interested in this era of history. And yet. So boring. Not enough magic, weird narration/POV shifts, lack of investment to any of the characters after a long time... time to call it quits, I think. Also: I feel very uncertain about the slavery/plantation depiction (it’s a major part of the book) and am unequipped to critique it. Will look for reactions by Black reviewers on the issue. As usual, your mileage may vary, so please read a sample and other reviews to decide if this alt-history fantasy is for you. One person’s “I’m bored to tears” is another’s favorite book. Disclaimer: I received a free e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    DNF - 50%. An earnest, painstakingly researched, blow-by-blow alternate history of The French Revolution and associated events. Magic fuels the primary events detailed within its pages, including a magic serum that allows slave owners to control their slaves, a peasant class denied the ability to use its magic, a prime minister with a dark family secret. It sounds like it should be awesome, yet it never aroused in me anything beyond a mild curiosity at first, progressing into mild impatience. Th DNF - 50%. An earnest, painstakingly researched, blow-by-blow alternate history of The French Revolution and associated events. Magic fuels the primary events detailed within its pages, including a magic serum that allows slave owners to control their slaves, a peasant class denied the ability to use its magic, a prime minister with a dark family secret. It sounds like it should be awesome, yet it never aroused in me anything beyond a mild curiosity at first, progressing into mild impatience. This is largely a book about people talking politics. Historians might be more pleased with the alternative versions of historical figures - Robespierre is practically the only name I recognize, but that's certainly not the author's fault. It's clever, yet curiously bloodless, and it takes far, far too long to get to any point. I just learned that A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is the first in a series and offers little resolution, and that (plus the fact that it's due back at the library in two days) means that I'm done.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Celeste

    I received an eARC of this book from the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a truly brilliant example of alternative history. Parry managed to stay completely faithful to the persons and events that make up the true history of this time period while deftly adding in the existence of magic and exemplifying how that existence might have impacted the French Revolution and the British fight to abolish the slave trade. I received an eARC of this book from the publisher (Orbit/Redhook) and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is a truly brilliant example of alternative history. Parry managed to stay completely faithful to the persons and events that make up the true history of this time period while deftly adding in the existence of magic and exemplifying how that existence might have impacted the French Revolution and the British fight to abolish the slave trade. Historical figures like William Pitt, William Wilberforce, Toussaint Bréda L’Ouverture, and Maximilien Robespierre are all exquisitely portrayed both as individuals that really existed and fictional characters whose minds were are invited to explore. Parry balanced this contrast beautifully. She could have rewritten history in a way that made it somehow less. She could have stayed so true to history that the narrative felt more like a nonfiction text than a novel. But she did neither of those things. She was able to bridge that divide in a way that both informs and inspires, that encourages both historical curiosity and fantastical imaginings. I’m truly in awe of what she was able to do with this novel. “And beneath the surface, something was moving. Something that spoke of change, and of revolution, and of blood.” One of the things I loved most about this book is how the importance in friendship is demonstrated in each of the three plot-lines. Pitt and Wilberforce, Robespierre and Camille, Toussaint and Fina (a character of Parry’s own imagination) are the central hubs around which this triune story orbits, and their relationships with one another play incredibly important roles in history. These relationships are what kept the story from seeming too dry. I especially loved the friendship between Pitt and Wilberforce, and was always excited when the narrative swung back in their direction. Parry has a gift with her craftsmanship of witty dialogue that feels appropriate to the time period without ever seeming stuffy. I found every debate and conversation a pleasure to read because of this. “It isn’t about proving what we can be. It’s about becoming what we can be.” Slavery is the most heinous act we as humans have ever wrought upon one another. I didn’t think it could be portrayed in a worse light than its reality, but Parry managed to make it even more horrifying with her addition of spellbinding slaves by forcing them to ingest magical elixirs that deprived them of all outward freewill. I can’t imagine not being able to control my body at all, with every single blink and twitch dictated by someone who has decided that I am property. And to make matters in the book even worse, the spellbound slaves are still completely aware inside their minds and are screaming for release and fighting a losing battle for control of their own bodies. The concept is terrifying. “To some extent, we all have the capacity to become monsters.” While I very much enjoyed the book, I must confess that I found myself getting bogged down in the legislation pretty frequently. This isn’t Parry’s fault, as the synopsis is very clear regarding the plot of the book, and it’s a plot that is necessarily very reliant on legality and politics. However, this obviously results in a slower pace and less action that some fantasy readers expect from the books they choose, so just be aware that this book is more of an alternate history that involves magic than it is a fantasy novel. While I haven’t yet read it myself, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell sprang immediately to mind within the first twenty pages, and I believe that fans of that novel will find Parry’s sophomore work very appealing. “I sometimes think ‘just this once’ is the most dangerous phrase in the English language.” My only other qualm with A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is Parry’s choice of ending. For such a large, often meandering novel, the ending felt very abrupt and left me unsatisfied. If there is a sequel planned, I will be much more content upon learning of its existence. But as I went into this book believing it to be a standalone, I was a bit frustrated when I read the final chapter and saw that I had reached the end before more of the plot-lines were tied up. “Liberty, what crimes are committed in your name!” Parry is a brilliant author. She has a wonderful flow to her prose that feels both effortless and highly intelligent. I know how much research goes into a book like this, but Parry tells the story in such a way that the reader is able to forget how much work went into it and simply lose themselves in the writing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed both novels I’ve read from her, and I can’t wait to see what she puts out next. But I’m clinging to hope that said next book will be a continuation of this particular story. You can find this review and more at Novel Notions.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    Full disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. In this alternate universe, set around the era of the French Revolution, magic is a genetic trait which only the nobility is permitted to exercise, and only if their strain of magic is not classified as dark magic, such as vampirism or necromancy. The Knights Templar act as an international religious judiciary which registers all magic users, polices the use of magic, and even imprisons or execut Full disclosure: I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. In this alternate universe, set around the era of the French Revolution, magic is a genetic trait which only the nobility is permitted to exercise, and only if their strain of magic is not classified as dark magic, such as vampirism or necromancy. The Knights Templar act as an international religious judiciary which registers all magic users, polices the use of magic, and even imprisons or executes offenders. The novel follows several historical figures, from William Wilberforce to Robespierre to Toussaint Louverture, as each grapples with how magical oppression intersects with the real historical oppression they fought. I had a difficult time writing this review, because it took me a while to figure out how to put into words my discomfort with the premise of this novel. Normally, I have no problem with how urban/historical fantasy layers magic and myth over reality. I was very much looking forward to reading this novel, precisely because it’s such a fascinating era that seems generally under-explored in the fantasy genre. However, I thought the way the author approached the era was fundamentally flawed. In essence, Parry has layered magical inequality and oppression on top of historical inequality and oppression, and made that magical oppression the primary lens through which the characters understand that inequality and oppression. The abolitionist movement becomes not just about slavery, but about how magic makes slavery even more evil. (Alchemists dose slaves with a potion that robs them of all power to control their bodies.) The French Revolution becomes not just about the aristocracy’s opulence and indifference to the suffering of their subjects, but also about the freedom to use magical gifts. Colonial fear of slave rebellions becomes not just about slave owners’ fear of economic loss and reprisals for their brutality, but also about their fear of their former slaves’ often powerful magic being unleashed upon them. (This treads awfully close to racist beliefs, still pervasive in our contemporary society, that black people are superhuman.) Also? In this book, the Haitian Revolution doesn’t begin because the slaves in Saint-Domingue rose up and freed themselves, it begins because a white dude frees them of magical alchemy, at the direction of another white dude, which then allows them the freedom to fully liberate themselves. I find that…problematic…to say the least, because it turns a historical example in which black people rescued themselves into a white savior story. I wanted to like this book. Parry is an engaging writer, and her interpretation of Robespierre in particular was fascinating. Unfortunately, she needed to handle the historical issues with more care. I have no doubt she was well-intentioned as she wrote this book, but I don’t think she had the knowledge and experience to address the slavery and class inequality aspects in a meaningful way. Rather than weaving the idea of magical oppression into historical events in a nuanced way, Parry keeps the revolution and historical figures, but replaces the causes and context of their fight with one of her own invention.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    A great pick for history buffs who like a little magic with their history. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians reimagines the late 1700's in three locations in a world where magic exists and is used as a tool of oppression. Told from the perspectives of real historical figures such as William Wilburforce and Robespierre, we get the French Revolution, the English government fighting about whether to abolish slavery, and the slave rebellions of Haiti. In this world magic is disallowed for com A great pick for history buffs who like a little magic with their history. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians reimagines the late 1700's in three locations in a world where magic exists and is used as a tool of oppression. Told from the perspectives of real historical figures such as William Wilburforce and Robespierre, we get the French Revolution, the English government fighting about whether to abolish slavery, and the slave rebellions of Haiti. In this world magic is disallowed for commoners and used to control the enslaved. The ideas are interesting and it's clear that the author has done a ton of research. My difficulty with the book was more a personal preference thing than a matter of objective "quality". While there were moments I was very engaged with the characters and story, especially during the final climax, I found much of the book to be somewhat tedious to read. I think for lovers of this period of history, it could be very interesting but I wanted things to move along at a much faster clip. I was also told that there would be vampires in the book and kind of? They are simply magicians who generally require human blood to survive, most of whom had been killed off in the past because they were too powerful and dangerous. But the main vampire who is an antagonist remains a shadowy figure. A threat certainly, but in a different way than you might expect from sexy or bloody vampires. Hopefully that makes sense. I think this book will appeal to a very particular kind of audience. I received a copy of this book for review from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Baker

    I don’t like DNF’ing a book, especially when I’m hyped up going into it. As much as I love the story synopsis, the writing style doesn’t work for me. It’s written in a dry, passive voice with a POV that keeps the reader at arm’s length. It was difficult for me to connect with the characters and the story, because it felt like the story was written about the characters rather than as the characters. I love fantasy, but I typically don’t read a lot of historical fiction, so maybe that’s pa I don’t like DNF’ing a book, especially when I’m hyped up going into it. As much as I love the story synopsis, the writing style doesn’t work for me. It’s written in a dry, passive voice with a POV that keeps the reader at arm’s length. It was difficult for me to connect with the characters and the story, because it felt like the story was written about the characters rather than as the characters. I love fantasy, but I typically don’t read a lot of historical fiction, so maybe that’s part of the problem. Maybe I should have been more patient, but if I’m not immediately hooked, I stop reading, usually after 50 pages. Sorry, I tried. I’m disappointed, because I really wanted to love it. You should still give this one a try if you’re thinking about reading it. Most readers loved it, so there’s a good chance that you will too.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Kelsea

    WHOA! This book was... breathtaking. In scope, in storytelling, in characters and perspectives and emotions and political machinations. I seem to have read this at just the right and the wrong time, simultaneously. The wrong time, because this story requires an intense amount of concentration, and thanks to the current state of the world, my reading attention span has been SHORT. But also the right time, because this book is basically historical fantasy about abolition in Europe & the Caribbean. WHOA! This book was... breathtaking. In scope, in storytelling, in characters and perspectives and emotions and political machinations. I seem to have read this at just the right and the wrong time, simultaneously. The wrong time, because this story requires an intense amount of concentration, and thanks to the current state of the world, my reading attention span has been SHORT. But also the right time, because this book is basically historical fantasy about abolition in Europe & the Caribbean. The debates, the questions, the implications, and the reminders (both of how far we've come and how far we have yet to go) feel very relevant at the moment, when George Floyd's death woke many up to the way systemic racism has been affecting Black people. (The racism is not new; the awareness being raised and universality of racism as a conversation subject is, at the very least, not something that's been tackled on this scale in recent history.) It took me a while to get into this book. 25% or so. Before that, it felt like a jumble of characters and places. I could tell there was a lot going on, but my mind had trouble grasping it all. Then... as occasionally happens, something clicked. (Also, it probably helped that my husband watched the baby for a bit so I could actually concentrate without her constantly trying to steal or click on my kindle.) I found myself riveted. Invested. Fully absorbed. Obsessed. In AWE. Sooooooooo I do want to give readers warning that this book will take time to get into. I've read some of the other reviews saying it's boring or they DNF'd the book, and I honestly understand that. I considered it as well. But I'm so, so glad now that I read on. It's worth it! Now, onto the actual book. In the alternate historical world of A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, magic is strictly controlled. The rights of magicians are under debate, and the author doesn't hold back when it comes to the way magicians of different classes and races (well, Black & White, as I recall no mention of other races in the story) are treated starkly differently. The story is as much about slavery and abolition as it is about the rights of magicians. And more than anything else, at its heart is the question of change. How do we bring about change? What's the best way to upend everything? Must it always turn to bloody revolution, or can it be done through peaceful negotiation? Is it fair to ask oppressed people to wait a single minute for freedom in order to usher in a new era with little or no bloodshed? Do the people who benefit from systems of oppression deserve to die for their parts in perpetuating those systems? This story tackles all of these questions and more. For someone like me, who loves thought-provoking reads, this story was so powerful and generated so many interesting questions without clear-cut answers. It's all so wonderfully complex and interwoven with such brilliance. The magic, the mystery, the characters, the friendships, the absolutely illustrious quotes (mostly from the debate floor)... all of it. This story will appeal to philosophizers, or anyone who's fascinated by morality and moral quandries. I also think this story will appeal to epic fantasy readers. There are a LOT of perspectives, and while the subject matter places it more squarely in historical fantasy, in scope and scale it reads like epic fantasy. I do wish Fina's POV was expanded. We get a lot more of the White character's thoughts than the one Black POV. Granted, this may be a matter of the author exercising caution when writing outside her racial lane? But as a reader, I think it would've been interesting to see more of Fina's world and perspective. I'm also surprised to see that this book isn't labeled as a series. Perhaps that will change? The ending to the story didn't feel like a full resolution. Maybe that's the point, or maybe I need to actually go research and see if this is planned as a series. Overall, this book is not going to appeal to every fantasy reader, but there is a certain subset who will absolutely LOVE this book. Thank you to Redhook via Netgalley for providing me a free advanced e-copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Out today (!!!) via Redhook.

  14. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Anuska G As a historical fantasy enthusiast, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is everything I could ask for and more from a magic-imbued reimagining of the interrelated histories of the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire! A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians presents an alternate version of the late eighteenth century world, a world with magic in it. The story travels b Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Anuska G As a historical fantasy enthusiast, A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is everything I could ask for and more from a magic-imbued reimagining of the interrelated histories of the French Revolution, the Haitian Revolution, and the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire! A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians presents an alternate version of the late eighteenth century world, a world with magic in it. The story travels back and forth between France, Haiti, and Britain where magic is confined strictly to the aristocracy in the European countries. In France, Robespierre dreams of a country free of constraints, a France where commoners and aristocrats alike use their magic freely. He’ll go to any means to make it a reality, even if that means he has to associate with dark magic. As the abolition of the slave trade is heavily discoursed in London, Prime Minister William Pitt is locked in a constant battle against his own nature. Fina, a slave stuck in a sugar plantation in Jamaica struggles to be free of the enchantment suppressing her magic and join the Revolution. In the midst of it all, an ancient, dark presence is stirring, slowly leading the world into utter chaos. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  15. 5 out of 5

    Para (wanderer)

    Man, that was the perfect book at the perfect time. It's pretty much a straight retelling of the French revolution except with magic (seriously, if you know history, you know roughly what will happen) and since I'm currently rather taken with the time period, this was exactly what I wanted. My one complaint would be that the pacing could be excruciatingly slow at points. Unfortunately, no full review because I didn't know enough at the time to be able to judge historical accuracy (now, the most I Man, that was the perfect book at the perfect time. It's pretty much a straight retelling of the French revolution except with magic (seriously, if you know history, you know roughly what will happen) and since I'm currently rather taken with the time period, this was exactly what I wanted. My one complaint would be that the pacing could be excruciatingly slow at points. Unfortunately, no full review because I didn't know enough at the time to be able to judge historical accuracy (now, the most I can say is that it does a reasonably good job when it comes to the French revolution) and I felt like I can't do it justice without at least some commentary on that. Still, sequel when???

  16. 4 out of 5

    OutlawPoet

    I really wanted to like this book, but I found it so slow that I just didn't finish it. Yeah, I hate doing that and I actually think the kind of slow burn of this book will completely appeal to others, but it just wasn't for me. I did like the atmosphere of the book very much. But the plot was plodding and the characters never engaged me. This may be one of those 'it's not you, it's me' kind of books. Hope you have a better experience with it! I really wanted to like this book, but I found it so slow that I just didn't finish it. Yeah, I hate doing that and I actually think the kind of slow burn of this book will completely appeal to others, but it just wasn't for me. I did like the atmosphere of the book very much. But the plot was plodding and the characters never engaged me. This may be one of those 'it's not you, it's me' kind of books. Hope you have a better experience with it!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    1. I need the sequel. 2. Perfect historical fantasy. 3. A true successor of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell ( no footnotes though ). 4. I am hoping to meet Napoleon Bonaparte in the next book. 5. Read this book only if you like History or Politics . 6. This book is a mytholization of real history and depicts the Abolitionist movements and the French Revolution with a magical twist. 7. A sequel is definitely coming. 8. Ughhh Robespierre . 9. Full of humour and occasional darkness. * I received an e-arc 1. I need the sequel. 2. Perfect historical fantasy. 3. A true successor of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell ( no footnotes though ). 4. I am hoping to meet Napoleon Bonaparte in the next book. 5. Read this book only if you like History or Politics . 6. This book is a mytholization of real history and depicts the Abolitionist movements and the French Revolution with a magical twist. 7. A sequel is definitely coming. 8. Ughhh Robespierre . 9. Full of humour and occasional darkness. * I received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review .

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mona

    A FRUSTRATING READ THAT DIDN’T LIVE UP TO ITS POTENTIAL This book was extremely frustrating. Because it had the potential to be a good book, but it never got anywhere near that. It reads as if the author published her first or second draft without bothering with much rewriting. The book has a half baked feel to it. How does an author take a possibly interesting story with intriguing historical characters and ruin it? Turn it into a (mostly) boring slog with some interesting moments? Because said autho A FRUSTRATING READ THAT DIDN’T LIVE UP TO ITS POTENTIAL This book was extremely frustrating. Because it had the potential to be a good book, but it never got anywhere near that. It reads as if the author published her first or second draft without bothering with much rewriting. The book has a half baked feel to it. How does an author take a possibly interesting story with intriguing historical characters and ruin it? Turn it into a (mostly) boring slog with some interesting moments? Because said author, although she’s published before, doesn’t know how to tell a story. Repeat after me, boys and girls. The main purpose of a novel is to tell a really good story, and tell it in such a way that it pulls in the reader. (Although of course great writers like Borges and Pynchon can bend this rule and get away with it). ACADEMIC AUTHOR Since this novel reads more like an academic paper (or an outline for one) than a novel, I figured the author must be an academic. (The title, which I found a bit pompous, gives us a clue). Sure enough, it’s in her bio. PhD professor of English. I think I’d fall asleep in her classes. ALTERNATE HISTORY The novel is an alternate history of the real era of the French Revolution, England’s concurrent war with France under Prime Minister William Pitt (“The Younger”), the global abolitionist movement unsuccessful at the time), and the Haitian Revolution. The novel featured real historical figures such as British PM William Pitt, Pitt’s friend the abolitionist William Wilberforce; French revolutionaries Robespierre, Danton, Desmoulins, and Saint-Just; and Haitian general Toussaint Louverture. The alternate history of the novel includes various forms of magic and magicians. GEORGIAN/REGENCY HISTORICAL NOVELS What is it about novels about the Georgian/Regency eras of British history? They all seem to natter on and on and on and on about nothing. Most of the ones I’ve read lately (and there are tons of them) could be cut in half and it would be an improvement. This was 535 pages, and would have been improved by being cut to 250 pages. Are the novelists who write about Georgian era England all paid by the word? PAGES OF VERBAL FILLER There were hundreds of pages of boring dialogue like “Pitt said…Wilberforce said”, etc. etc. In Paris, Robespierre incites the storming of the Bastille and of the Tuilleries and skips out on both of them. Since he’s the point of view character in his sections of the book, that means the reader misses out on the most interesting parts of the action (of course), and instead gets treated to someone (I think it was the daughter of the people Robespierre lodges with) remarking that Robespierre is biting his nails lately. Yawn….who cares? It’s almost as if the author deliberately wants to bore the reader. I nearly abandoned the book, but about three quarters of the way through it gets more interesting. So why did we need to slog through hundreds of pages to get to the interesting parts? Shouldn’t a good fantasy novel be interesting all the way through? And where are the editors these days? Do they even exist any more? FEW SPECIFIC DETAILS OF TIME AND PLACE I feel as if any good novel needs specific details (using all five senses) to anchor us to time and place. Especially a historical novel. This novel took place in the late eighteenth century, mainly in London, Paris, Haiti (called Saint-Domingue then) and Jamaica. Of course, the epic sweep of a novel with multiple locations can be appealing. But this novel may as well have been located on the moon. We’re given almost no sensory details of the locations. HISTORICAL NOVELS AND HISTORICAL FANTASIES I’ve read lots of brilliant historical novels that give the reader rich sensory details of their time and place. Hamnet comes to mind. I’m reading another right now, Mistress of the Art of Death by Ariana Franklin. And I’ve read plenty of fantasy novels that give us complex and intriguing fantasy rooted in history. An example of a brilliant historical fantasy that I read recently is The Tower of Fools by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski. He gives us a rich depiction of the thirteenth century Hussite heresy, swimming with elements of fantasy and magic. FANTASY ELEMENTS WERE UNINTERESTING There are many powerful magicians and forms of magic in A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians. There are vampires (styled “blood magicians”), necromancers, metalmancers, shadowmancers, people who can see through others’ eyes, weather magicians, etc. But we’re given precious little information about these forms of magic or how they’re used. Part of this is because for the book’s first half, magic is outlawed and punishable (how convenient for the author; she can avoid the subject). But even after magic becomes legal or at least not punishable, no one seems to use it except to advance their political aims. Another frustration with this book, for me, was that the author gives short shrift to the fantasy and magical elements of her novel. UNMEMORABLE WRITING I can’t think of a single line of this novel that I can remember. By way of contrast, I’m only a few pages into Mistress of the Art of Death and I’ve already encountered this: “The deer ran, scattering among the trees, their white scuts like dominoes tumbling into the darkness.” A fresh and striking image. And it was written fifteen years ago about twelfth century Europe. AUDIO NARRATOR I found Andrew Kingston’s audio reading rather flat, which didn’t help matters. But one can’t entirely fault the reader if he’s reading mediocre material. SUMMARY This book had great possibilities, which it might have fulfilled with more rewriting, better editing, and more attention to detail from the author (although honestly, she seems much more interested in history than in fantasy, and might have done better with a pure historical novel without the fantasy. Unless the fanstasy was a contrivance to sell books, as fantasy is popular these days). It was at least interesting enough to finish. But in spite of interesting moments, it wasn’t compelling enough for me to continue to read the series. Neither the historical aspect nor the fantasy aspect of this book were satisfying. The next book will be published next month. I think I’ll skip it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christi M

    Blending real historical moments with fantasy and magical realism, H.G. Parry creates a story spanning the abolitionist movement through French Revolution set in the late 18th century. Taking historical facts and altering them just enough to fit inside a world where the governance of magic is established by laws and where men such as William Pitt argue on behalf of the commoners who should have more rights and freedom in regards to magic use. The breadth and scope of the what the author is undert Blending real historical moments with fantasy and magical realism, H.G. Parry creates a story spanning the abolitionist movement through French Revolution set in the late 18th century. Taking historical facts and altering them just enough to fit inside a world where the governance of magic is established by laws and where men such as William Pitt argue on behalf of the commoners who should have more rights and freedom in regards to magic use. The breadth and scope of the what the author is undertaking is amazing. To research such a political span of time in European history and to adjust it in such a way to where parts of known history are now integrated with magic was truly phenomenal to read. Undeniably A Declaration of Rights of Magicians is an intelligent and well-thought out the book and I am left wondering if my knowledge of the actual subjects will forever be changed. However, merging the two together also comes at a cost. At times, I was drawn into an incredibly intriguing story and other times I felt like I was back in history class waiting for the bell to ring. It was during these times that I felt the story dragged a little or at least my excitement for the story diminished as we saw things occur off screen, but not on. I thoroughly love and appreciate the concept of the book, but there are other historical events or points in time I enjoy more than than the late 1700s. Maximilien Robespierre, William Pitt, Toussaint Breda, George-Jacques Danton, William Wilberforce among others were names learned long ago – mostly for a test. Politics can be quite an intriguing subject none more so than the events leading up the French revolution and I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction from an alternative world perspective or at least one that is slightly altered. But unfortunately for me, this story didn’t work out as much as I had hoped. Rating: 3 stars Thanks to Netgalley and Redhook Books for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Demelda Penkitty

    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 enlightened world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human ci 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 enlightened world, there is an unknown force inciting all of human civilisation 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 chaos. This is a long book, over 530 pages of very small print. It is a novel with a great deal of serious political discourse, for me personally a little too much alongside its magical and supernatural themes which I would have liked more of. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians presents an alternate version of the late eighteenth century world, a world with magic in it. The story travels back and forth between France, Haiti, and Britain where magic is confined strictly to the aristocracy in the European countries. In France, Robespierre dreams of a country free of constraints, a France where commoners and aristocrats alike use their magic freely. He’ll go to any means to make it a reality, even if that means he has to associate with dark magic. As the abolition of the slave trade is heavily discussed in London, Prime Minister William Pitt is locked in a constant battle against his own nature. Fina, a slave stuck in a sugar plantation in Jamaica struggles to be free of the enchantment suppressing her magic and join the Revolution. In the midst of it all, an ancient, dark presence is stirring, slowly leading the world into utter chaos. This book is a blending of extensively researched history and a captivating magic system. I’m completely in awe of the way Parry has woven magic into the late eighteenth century world and given it a magical background so convincing! In terms of pacing, the story itself moves slowly and the writing can seem quite dense and history book-ish at times. Things start to pick up from just over half way and really seem to move along at a pace towards the end of the book. Having reached the end I am now keen to continue on with book two in this dualogy. 3.5 stars 🌟

  21. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    "A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians" is an incredibly clever and bold approach to the fantasy genre. It's an alternate history of the late eighteenth century, the time of the French Revolution's madness and excesses. Shuttling between London, Paris, and Haiti, it's a world filled with magic. In France and England, magic is suppressed by law. The Knights of Templar regulate magicians. Only aristocrats can use it. In France, its use is limited by bracelets. In Haiti, the enslaved drink a pot "A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians" is an incredibly clever and bold approach to the fantasy genre. It's an alternate history of the late eighteenth century, the time of the French Revolution's madness and excesses. Shuttling between London, Paris, and Haiti, it's a world filled with magic. In France and England, magic is suppressed by law. The Knights of Templar regulate magicians. Only aristocrats can use it. In France, its use is limited by bracelets. In Haiti, the enslaved drink a potion each day to suppress their magic and keep them subservient. But, Revolution is in the air and in Haiti and Santo Domingo, there is open rebellion. In London, abolition is hotly debated. In Paris, Robespierre breaks open the gates to the Bastille. Exhaustively researched, very detailed, at times, the reading is dense and too-filled with political minutiae so that it's not always a smooth read. It's definitely not for everyone. Nevertheless, the concepts are fascinating. Many thanks to the publisher for providing a copy for review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    Dnf'ed @ pg 306 This has been a love at first sight turned boring book. I loved the summary and the first 300 pages. Then I felt like the story keep stalling, that it took lots of things into consideration: politics, real story, slave abolotion, the fall of the monarchy in france, britan answer to that and to the abolition of the slave trade... but the main problem was that there was too much of everything and I was missing more ejecution, more action. I didn't mind at the beginning because, hones Dnf'ed @ pg 306 This has been a love at first sight turned boring book. I loved the summary and the first 300 pages. Then I felt like the story keep stalling, that it took lots of things into consideration: politics, real story, slave abolotion, the fall of the monarchy in france, britan answer to that and to the abolition of the slave trade... but the main problem was that there was too much of everything and I was missing more ejecution, more action. I didn't mind at the beginning because, honestly, it's such an engrossing story! But I ended up not wanting to read anymore.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    From the first one, I was absolutely enthralled with this book. Historical Fantasy’s not my usual genre, but this one gripped me in a way few books do. Between the complexity and nuances of all the lead characters and the way the author was able to so seamlessly integrate magic into our own world, and account for how society reacts to magic, I absolutely fell in love. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians hits a point for me few books seem to manage, which is to so thoroughly integrate magic i From the first one, I was absolutely enthralled with this book. Historical Fantasy’s not my usual genre, but this one gripped me in a way few books do. Between the complexity and nuances of all the lead characters and the way the author was able to so seamlessly integrate magic into our own world, and account for how society reacts to magic, I absolutely fell in love. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians hits a point for me few books seem to manage, which is to so thoroughly integrate magic into the small minutiae of society that I’m never left wondering, why don’t people just do X with magic? The book starts with both leads, William Pitt in England and Robespierre in France, fighting for the rights of Commoners to perform magic. If a Commoner family was able to use weathermancy, they would have been able to water their crops and not starve, if a Commoner firemage could heat his house, he wouldn’t risk freezing to death. It’s these little details that I thought fleshed out the book, and this re-imagined 18th century that gave the worldbuilding so much life. On a larger scale, this Western Europe 18th century has just come out of the American Revolution, and revolution, freedom for all magicians, is in the air. The center of this book is politics, the slow gradual freedoms and allowances that Pitt manages to muster through in England, sharp, explosive rebellions taking place in France, and a fight for freedom from slavery in Haiti. I admit having absolutely no knowledge of the French Revolution, or this general time period. About halfway through, I asked several friends who’d taken French in high school what role Robespierre had in the Revolution because he seemed like a pretty neat, smart dude. I was laughed at. Turns out, Robespierre was the one running around with the guillotine. Which, frankly, speaks so well to how these characters are developed and characterized. Robespierre doesn’t start his life a bloodthirsty tyrant, and it’s fascinating to be able to follow him throughout this book, reading from his perspective, and seeing that slow descent into tyranny. Similarly in England, we have William Pitt and his best friend/close political colleague William Wilberforce. Pitt and Wilberforce have this fantastic bromance (is it weird to say important historic political figures have bromances?) and through it, we are able to really delve into the psyche of each. However, with their good friendship emphasized so heavily, it’s clear to the reader that, like all people with different goals and worldviews, they’ll one day have a falling out. And when that happens, as the reader, I feel that I knew both characters so well that I’d never be able to pick a side. It’s rare that I enjoy Victorian/Regency-esque prose, but Parry really knocks the writing out of the park. The best way I can describe it is Victorian enough, but not so much that it stifles the rest of the story. Pacing wise, the book is fairly slow. For a book about revolutions, the story itself is surprisingly character-driven. Personally, I enjoyed taking a deep-dive into the minds of our different leads, but I’ve had friends complain it’s too slow. Parry is flexing her knowledge of the French Revolution and it shows. There are two points I want to make note of, however, not necessarily as detractors, but just good information for a reader going into this book. The first is that this book is not a standalone. Beyond the French Revolution, the English trying to decide how to respond, and the Haitian revolution, there’s a shadowy 4th party in the background, pulling strings and pushing pieces around. That character makes small appearances here and there, which led me to believe that they were the final boss of the book. Which they were not. The second is that when we follow Pitt and Wilberforce, their main focal point is the abolition of the slave trade. While the book doesn’t delve much into the arguments of the opposing side, avoiding it entirely is impossible as well. Even on the Abolitionist side, the arguments often used delve into the economic value and worth of a human life, and in many situations, these debates, to me, were portrayed as old white men calmly discussing slavery with little-to-no input from former slaves. For me, these discussions came off as extremely sanitized with little acknowledgment from the Abolitionists of the racism that was surely rampant during the era. Especially with the current political climate in the US and the Black Live Matter movement, this language may be triggering to some readers. Overall, I rate this book a 5/5. I was stunned by the worldbuilding and the integration of magic into 18th century Europe and I loved the writing and the sheer character development of the characters we follow. Extremely topical for our current political climate and an absolutely fascinating read! Definitely in contention for my favorite book of 2020.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Imagine all the political turmoil of the Age of Enlightenment: the abolitionist movement, male suffrage, the French Revolution. Now add magic. This is an intense but wonderful novel that kept me hooked almost from the start. The plot follows three storylines: William Pitt and William Wilberforce in England striving to end slavery; Maximilien Robespierre in France preaching freedom from the tyranny of the French king; and Fina, a slave in the Bahamas determined to escape and fight. Oh, and did I Imagine all the political turmoil of the Age of Enlightenment: the abolitionist movement, male suffrage, the French Revolution. Now add magic. This is an intense but wonderful novel that kept me hooked almost from the start. The plot follows three storylines: William Pitt and William Wilberforce in England striving to end slavery; Maximilien Robespierre in France preaching freedom from the tyranny of the French king; and Fina, a slave in the Bahamas determined to escape and fight. Oh, and did I mention the vampires, necromancers, fire mages, and alchemists? If that seems like an ambitious intertwining of stories, it is. Yet it flows surprisingly well. Perhaps it was simply that I listened to it on audio book. But each storyline carries its weight and pushes the things forward. (Though not forward enough! I'm definitely going to need the sequel pronto!) It is an impressive historical work that uses many figures from history without diminishing their real-life contributions and passions. In particular, I appreciate how the book handled Wilberforce's faith. I also loved how weighty this book was. Actions have consequences and they never feel cheap. The story centers on how one compromise can lead to another. It contrasts where characters draw the line with their actions and how those lines lead to different outcomes. The story doesn't have much by way of romance but it does have incredible bromance. 10/10 for creating friendships I genuinely cheered for. But perhaps most of all, the story kept an internal tension throughout all three story arcs. The villain starts out shadowy and a little confusing but continues to grow as an intense threat as the book progresses. It was the common thread that kept me hooked even while years pass by. If you're a fan of philosophy, political theory, legislation, the movie Amazing Grace, legal precedent, the French Revolution...basically, any of the drama of early 1800s, I recommend giving this one a try. It isn't necessarily exciting from an action standpoint, but it sits comfortably with the debates of the era and the magic only adds to the real-life drama.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    2.5 stars I expected this to be so much better than it actually was. My biggest complaint is that it was boring. It didn't make me mad, it didn't make me sad, it didn't make me glad. It didn't really inspire any emotions in me, which is pretty unfortunate. On paper, it sounded pretty good. The time period of the French Revolution, the issue of slavery in Britain as well as in the US and France, and well-known public figures of the time, like Robespierre all sounded great. Thrown on top of that we 2.5 stars I expected this to be so much better than it actually was. My biggest complaint is that it was boring. It didn't make me mad, it didn't make me sad, it didn't make me glad. It didn't really inspire any emotions in me, which is pretty unfortunate. On paper, it sounded pretty good. The time period of the French Revolution, the issue of slavery in Britain as well as in the US and France, and well-known public figures of the time, like Robespierre all sounded great. Thrown on top of that were vampires and magicians. It all sounded very cool. But when I started listening, and it may have been the combination of the narrator and the story, but I had trouble keeping plugged in with endless discussions about politics, philosophy, and religion, The narrator also had this weird way of putting pauses in the middle of his sentences that ended up being more distracting than effective. I kept plugging along, hoping it would become better, and there were definitely moments where I became very interested in the characters and what was going on, but for the most part, I had to really force myself to pay attention. This was a very conversation-oriented book, and ultimately, it just didn't work for me. I started out really interested and excited to get the next book, but at this point, I think I'm going to give the second book a pass. I might still check out the other author's book, The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Keep because the description definitely sounds intriguing, but for now, I'm going to give this author a rest.

  26. 4 out of 5

    PlotTrysts

    Do you like history? Do you like fantasy? Do you love when authors mix them both? Then this is a perfect book for you. In this AU, magic exists and is highly correlated with the social class system in Europe. When commoner magicians revolt against the bonds keeping them from fully utilizing their magic, it sparks the French Revolution, the Haitian slave uprising, and more. With viewpoint characters in the "great men" of the era (Maximilien Robespierre, William Pitt, William Wilberforce) but also Do you like history? Do you like fantasy? Do you love when authors mix them both? Then this is a perfect book for you. In this AU, magic exists and is highly correlated with the social class system in Europe. When commoner magicians revolt against the bonds keeping them from fully utilizing their magic, it sparks the French Revolution, the Haitian slave uprising, and more. With viewpoint characters in the "great men" of the era (Maximilien Robespierre, William Pitt, William Wilberforce) but also in people whose stories have not been recorded (an enslaved woman in Jamaica, young magicians in France and England), the book takes the conceit to its logical end. Truly an original and fascinating read!

  27. 5 out of 5

    charlotte,

    On my blog. Rep: Black characters CWs: graphic descriptions of slavery, gore, murder Galley provided by publisher This book, for me, was approximately 500 pages of boredom. I say 500, because for the first 50 or so pages, I thought I might be interested in it. I was quickly disillusioned, and then dragged myself through the rest of the book, in the vain hope that something might actually happen. Spoiler alert: it did not. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is an almost exact retelling of his On my blog. Rep: Black characters CWs: graphic descriptions of slavery, gore, murder Galley provided by publisher This book, for me, was approximately 500 pages of boredom. I say 500, because for the first 50 or so pages, I thought I might be interested in it. I was quickly disillusioned, and then dragged myself through the rest of the book, in the vain hope that something might actually happen. Spoiler alert: it did not. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is an almost exact retelling of history as we know it, but with vampires, necromancers, and other magic users. Now, you might think that doesn’t sound so bad. But when I say “almost exact retelling”, I do mean it quite literally. About the only thing that changed about it was exact motivations for things. I don’t know about you, but I’d have thought that, in a world with magic, history would not happen to unfurl in exactly the same manner as our world. Not to mention there’s a good two millenia plus of development before all this supposedly takes place. And I’m supposed to believe that, under conditions so drastically different from our own, there would be the exact same history unfolding in the exact same way? And, honestly, that’s what made it most boring to me. That, and the fact that it spans so many years before we even get to the crux of the plot (which is only just revealed right at the end of the book, besides), and in those years, what do we get? Literally just intensely detailed political manoeuverings, a million minutiae on how exactly the very tiniest details of the world had changed. It was, quite frankly, one of the most boring books I’ve ever had to drag myself through. It’s not like it was badly written either, so I couldn’t just blame my boredom on not getting along with the writing. It was well-written, but dense and so bogged down in the details, I couldn’t even effectively skim-read it. I was so bored by this book that, halfway through, I went and googled William Wilberforce, only to find out he had a direct hand in the creation of the Society for the Reformation of Manners, themselves a big player in the raids on molly houses in the 19th century. So yeah. That nixed any chance of me liking his fictional representation and definitely nixed any chance of me liking this book. But beyond the boredom, there were some other aspects I didn’t really like. Firstly, I don’t particularly enjoy reading about real historical people but fictionalised. It just feels like it can easily edge into smoothing out any nuance. Like how, apparently, Wilberforce was anti-unionist (and also, judging by the Society he formed, homophobic), but of course we don’t get presented with that here. Oh and then there was the fact that the Haitian slave revolution was written as being initiated by a white man. With the caveat that I know very little about that, only what I’ve read online, it didn’t exactly feel great. But then again, the whole “slavery but let’s make it even worse by having the characters bound within their bodies and controlled by the masters, because magic” part of this book didn’t feel so good at all. So maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    H.G. Parry's A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is nothing less than epic. On the one hand, it is a fantasy novel, full of magic—much of it dangerous magic. On the other hand it is firmly grounded in global history at the time of the French Revolution. The presentation of figures that are simultaneously fictive and historical is nimbly handled, and these characters are depicted with a fullness that lets readers share their concerns and obsessions. And, in general, the fact that almost all H.G. Parry's A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is nothing less than epic. On the one hand, it is a fantasy novel, full of magic—much of it dangerous magic. On the other hand it is firmly grounded in global history at the time of the French Revolution. The presentation of figures that are simultaneously fictive and historical is nimbly handled, and these characters are depicted with a fullness that lets readers share their concerns and obsessions. And, in general, the fact that almost all of these characters are trying to achieve what they perceive as a greater good makes the novel even more compelling. If you love fantasy and alternate history, you will love this book, but it will also appeal to readers who normally stick to literary fiction or nonfiction historical writing. I received a free electronic review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. The opinions are my own.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I am a simple creature. If a novel has Robespierre as a character, then I will read it. Thus I picked A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians up at random in the library, saw his name in the blurb, and borrowed it. The plot centres upon the French and Haitian revolutions, with magic. An enticing prospect, I must say. Although I quite enjoyed it, I found it couldn't live up to the expectations raised by that prospect. I liked the chapters set in the midst of the French and Haitian Revolutions mo I am a simple creature. If a novel has Robespierre as a character, then I will read it. Thus I picked A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians up at random in the library, saw his name in the blurb, and borrowed it. The plot centres upon the French and Haitian revolutions, with magic. An enticing prospect, I must say. Although I quite enjoyed it, I found it couldn't live up to the expectations raised by that prospect. I liked the chapters set in the midst of the French and Haitian Revolutions most, predictably enough. However, the largest share of narration goes to the English, specifically Pitt the Younger and William Wilberforce. They have a great many discussions, which were charming at first but began to pall. My main quibble is more fundamental. There is an inherent tension in the narrative between adherence to how history actually progressed and the inclusion of magic. Rather to my surprise, the former was given absolute priority. The idea seemed almost to explain how historical events could have taken place in just the way they actually did, even if there was a huge population of magicians and the 15th century had been ravaged by 'vampire wars'. I found myself wanting more historical divergence, as the lack of it somehow made the magic seem trivial. Surely revolutionary France's war against most of Europe would have gone differently with the addition of undead soldiers? Surely politicians with powers of mesmerism would achieve things that their non-magical counterparts could not? And surely the prevalence of magic in the population would have additional social consequences beyond those shown? I did like the details given of laws around commoners using magic and the Concord against use of magic in war. I would have appreciated more about how the aristocracy used their magic, given they weren't subject to such restrictions. I suppose this is just the latest instance of my compulsion to interrogate fantasy novels: what role is magic playing here? Is it a technology, an energy source, a determinant of social standing or power? Is it a renewable resource? Is it learned, inherited, or both? What are its limits? Many different kinds of magic are mentioned in A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, without much indication of an underlying source or system. I did appreciate Toussaint L'Ouverture's comment on this topic: "You're still asking your magic to answer to a name," Toussaint said. "Magic doesn't belong to categories. Mesmerism, fire magic, weather magic - those are terms invented by white men, who like to bind things. Magic can't be bound. And the names they have are the kinds of magic common in Europe. Africa has its own kinds of magic - and because they're not recorded in the same way, they seem still more mysterious to Europeans." Fair enough, but this is a little frustrating for a reader trying to understand this magical world. What are the shadows, for one thing? Presumably ghosts? (view spoiler)[I also wasn't keen on the twist that both the French and Haitian Revolutions were being masterminded by a vampire for his own purposes. That somewhat put me off reading the sequel, in fact, as revolutions are far more interesting to me as popular uprisings than as shadowy plots by just one man. (hide spoiler)] I was charmed by the concept of vampire William Pitt, mesmerist (view spoiler)[(and necromancer!) (hide spoiler)] Robespierre, and weather mage Toussaint L'Ouverture, but found it odd that their powers did not seem to change their historical roles at all. A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians is nonetheless exciting and readable, with thoughtful treatment of slavery and its abolition. Those with lower emotional investment in the French Revolution and less inclination to pedantry regarding magic would enjoy it more than I.

  30. 4 out of 5

    James

    I loved this even though it took me some time to get through. In my defense, life has distracted my reading time. But yeah, this was some great historical fantasy that brings to mind Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. Set around the French and Haitian revolutions, its primary characters include William Pitt, William Wordsworth, Robespierre, and Toussant. My knowledge of this time period is a light, but I found myself returning to wikipedia again and again to find just how closely Parry modeled her I loved this even though it took me some time to get through. In my defense, life has distracted my reading time. But yeah, this was some great historical fantasy that brings to mind Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell. Set around the French and Haitian revolutions, its primary characters include William Pitt, William Wordsworth, Robespierre, and Toussant. My knowledge of this time period is a light, but I found myself returning to wikipedia again and again to find just how closely Parry modeled her story after real events, and often spoiling myself in the process. Highlights include the friendship and banter of Pitt and Wordsworth, and the mysterious menace of the secret benefactor whom I spent the whole novel trying to guess the identity of. But there are lots of questions left open for book 2! This book is a little dialogue heavy, and feels very much written in a 19th century victorian author voice, so it may not be for everyone. And I think some knowledge of history helps. But overall, I loved it and look forward to finding out what happens in the sequel.

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