[[quoteright:337:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/strange456_8703.jpg]]

->''"Can a magician kill a man by magic?" Lord Wellington asked Strange.\\
Strange frowned. He seemed to dislike the question. "I suppose a magician might," he admitted, "but a gentleman never could."''

''Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell'' is the highly acclaimed first novel by Susanna Clarke, published in 2004. The story shews, in historical fashion, the involvements of magicians and [[TheFairFolk fairies]] in [[AlternateHistory alternate]] [[GaslampFantasy Britain]] of the [[RegencyEngland Regency era]]. Being [[DoorStopper nearly 1000 pages long]], the book is well-known (and well-loved) for skillfully combining political intrigue, elaborate academic footnotes and [[GenreThrowback sweet charcoal illustrations]].

Centuries ago, magic thrived in England. The Raven King, a human who had been raised in {{Faerie}}, waged war against England and took the northern half for his kingdom. The Raven King was the greatest magician to ever live, and his 300-year reign was the golden age of magic in both halves of England -- the union of fairy power and human organization.

By 1806, England has been reunited, and magic is primarily the domain of scholars and theorists. The Learned Society of York Magicians sets out to discover ''why'' magic is no longer practiced in England, and finds that there is one practicing magician: the reclusive Mr Gilbert Norrell, who has very particular views on what is and is not proper for an English magician. Norrell's life revolves about his deep love and reverence for academic books, and he feels that it is his duty to restore English Magic and to employ its power in the war effort against France.

When Mr Norrell chooses to go public, this sets in motion a chain of events. In his efforts to ingratiate himself to the London upper class, he secretly calls upon the aid of a fairy: a gentleman with thistle-down hair. Although their encounter is but a brief one, this gentleman soon takes renewed interest in England and comes to deeply love Stephen Black, the servant of government minister Sir Walter Pole. Mr Norrell, oblivious to this particular development, convinces Sir Walter Pole that English Magic might restore the glory of the Kingdom and claim Britannia's victory against Napoleon Buonaparte. Aiding Norrell's political career are two socialite leeches, Mr Christopher Drawlight and Mr Henry Lascelles, who take it upon themselves to guide Norrell -- a SociallyAwkwardHero at the best of times -- through the intricacies of political etiquette.

Meanwhile, a young [[IdleRich landowner]] named Jonathan Strange discovers that he has a natural talent for magic, and begins practising as an amateur. He becomes Mr Norrell's first and only student, but as Strange begins to rival Norrell in ability, their differences in opinion intensify until something must give. And as the war effort progresses, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair becomes convinced that Jonathan Strange is his worst enemy.

[[http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02mrqzv Adapted into a BBC drama]], with Bertie Carvel and Eddie Marsan in the title roles.

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!!Contains examples of:

* AccentUponTheWrongSyllable: In the miniseries, Drawlight inflicts this on Norrell's name all the time, pronouncing it Nor-ELL. Accompanied by a rolling R and dramatic hand gestures.
* AdaptationalVillainy: Norrell is more proactive in suppressing Lady Pole's attempts to incriminate him in the miniseries.
* AllMythsAreTrue: An interesting variation - only some myths are true, Merlin was explicitly stated to be true while magic mirrors are false (any mirror will do). The characters themselves aren't sure which myths are true.
** Beings from Christian theology also show up in this universe; the Raven King is said to have been on good terms with most angels and demons, but quarrelled with Zadkiel and Alrinach. Also in a footnote, Merlin is described as being half-demon.
*** Hermes (Trismegistus, specifically) also has a passing mention near the end as the "God of all magicians" implying that while Christian theology is focused on, there may be other realms that Christians are unaware of, ignore or simply lump in with Faerie.
* AmbiguouslyGay: Oh, Mr Drawlight...
** It's also never specified to what extent the gentleman with the thistle-down hair loves Stephen Black. Certainly their interaction never goes beyond the platonic, but the gentleman's behaviour is solidly that of a StalkerWithACrush.
* AmplifierArtifact: Several are mentioned, apparently created by a magician infusing their own power into objects, such as rings.
* AndTheAdventureContinues: The series ends with [[spoiler: Strange and Norrell about to embark on exploration of magical realms, and Childermass and Vinculus teaching York magicians the Raven King's book of magic.]]
* AnimalMotifs: The raven for the Raven King, obviously.
* AntiHero: Norrell is an old-fashioned example; Strange is a Byronic one.
* ApologeticAttacker: [[spoiler: Stephen Black apologizes to the Gentleman right before he calls on all the powers of the earth to kill him.]]
* ArcSymbol: The raven in flight, the heraldic symbol of the Raven King. It is obviously more readily apparent in the BBC adaption than in text.
* ArcWords: Vinculus's prophecy of the return of English magic in general, but particularly the phrase "the nameless slave".
* ArrangedMarriage: As comes with the time period, each marriage described in the novel is treated as a contract first, and as an expression of love only second (if at all). The relationship between Sir Walter Pole and Emma Wintertowne is based on the understanding that they each live their own life in any way they desire, although Sir Walter Pole is not entirely happy to find out to what extent Lady Pole envisions this. Similarly, Strange and Arabella love each other dearly, but fully understand that their marriage is one of convenience as well as love. In the end, Lady Pole [[spoiler: is in no way inclined to even think about her husband when released from her slavery]], and Arabella and Jonathan [[spoiler: are quite fine with the idea that they cannot be together in Jonathan's exile.]]
* AsYouKnow: Many of the footnotes reference facts "everyone" knows about the history of British magic.
* {{Asexuality}}: Norrell's only love is for books, and he fails to understand the appeal of marriage, calling it a regrettable habit for magicians. The notions of romance and affection are completely alien to him.
* AttentionDeficitOohShiny: Jonathan Strange, much to his detriment later on.
* AxCrazy: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair. Though being a fairy his moods shift wildly and he can sometimes be talked out of murder. Sometimes. Do not count on this.
* BadassAbnormal: Childermass. He would be, and was, a dangerous and capable man without magic. His secret magical skills make him even more formidable.
* BadassBookworm: Jonathan Strange. He plays a vital role in Wellington's campaign, armed with nothing more than chests of books.
** Norrell as well, although with more bookworm and less badass. He can after all with some murmuring of spells safeguard an entire stretch of coast against invasion.
* BeCarefulWhatYouWishFor: Played straight when Norrell deals with the gentleman with thistle-down hair, but when he tries to invoke this against Strange it goes horribly wrong.
* BeCarefulWhatYouSay: The trope is invoked twice near the ending. Firstly, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair [[spoiler: places a curse of Darkness]] on Strange, naming him as "the English magician". Since he failed to be more specific, [[spoiler: the Darkness also begins to affects Norrell once Strange reaches him, and the two are bound together until the curse can be broken.]] The second instance is of major importance to the fate of England and its English Magic: [[spoiler: Norrell and Strange address "the nameless slave" in their spell, hoping to reach the Raven King. The spell finds Stephen Black instead.]]
* TheBeautifulElite: The residents of Lost-Hope.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: The Gentleman states this is the case, to explain part of his regard for Stephen.
* BenevolentMageRuler: A possible, and most likely, interpretation of the Raven King, and certainly how he's remembered OopNorth. Even when he abandoned his kingdom in England, it is suggested that he did so to guard its magical borders from otherworldly threats.
* BigGood: [[spoiler: The Raven King]]
* BlackComedy: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair is ''built'' on this trope, particularly when he non-chalantly entertains the idea of killing strangers for imagined slights.
* BlackMagic: Strange practices some during the Napoleonic Wars, using it to raise slain Neapolitans from the dead as horrible, sapient zombies in order to get information from them. They are finally burned "alive" after the living soldiers are too creeped out to be around them - although, to his credit, Strange does try several times to reverse the spell on them. As a rather dark HistoricalInJoke, this act is suggested to have inspired the artist Goya's production of hellish paintings of war and witchcraft.
* BloodKnight: [[spoiler:It can be inferred that the new champion of the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart will be more enthusiastic about his duties than the previous one, seeing as Lascelles murdered Drawlight and the old Champion quite willingly. Alternatively, it's an implied deconstruction of BloodKnight mixed in with FridgeHorror; it's implied that the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart's champion begins by murdering the previous one and continues on with nothing to do but to kill or be killed until they've forgotten their own name.]]
* BloodMagic: As Mr Norrell has hoarded all of the magical texts in existence, Jonathan is forced to resort to this, in addition to many other strange tactics, in his attempt to summon a fairy.
* BlueAndOrangeMorality: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair seems entirely unable to comprehend regular human morality or ethics, and seems to lack any kind of empathy. At his worst he kills a dozen people in pursuit of Stephen's true name, simply because they were connected to those present at Stephen's mother's death, but cannot understand Stephen's horror. He's casually sadistic, yet also cannot comprehend racism. He shows a genuine liking for King George, yet is more than happy to murder him.
** The gentleman finds it even more difficult to understand human society than humans try to discern fairy culture. He cannot comprehend why if he kills George III that Stephen Black would not be immediately crowned due to his attractiveness and charm.
** TheFairFolk also consider Christianity to be this -- a footnote mentions that centuries ago, someone left a pair of boots in a fairy's castle, and they were regarded as objects of dread for fear that in some inscrutable way, Christian morality might hold the fairies responsible for their theft.
* BlueCollarWarlock: Childermass and Vinuclus act as interesting contrasts to Strange and Norrell, subverting Norrell's preference for [[GentlemanWizard respectable magic]]. The former is a servant, the latter is a beggar, and both have pasts as common criminals.
* BoringButPractical: Strange's first act of magic during the war (that Wellington is enthusiastic about) is to create roads for the British soldiers to travel on. It's noted that Strange specifically has to get to know the common soldiers, and understand their needs and wants, in order to create magic that the army can actually ''use.''
* BrokenPedestal: Norrell means well, but it doesn't change that fact that he's a secretive, mousy, banal and ''incredibly'' selfish man who is pretty much lacking in sympathetic traits, is [[DeadpanSnarker constantly sarcastic, of a condescendingly, backhanded sort]] and spends his time making sure he is the ''only'' magician in Britain. Namely by using his connections to the people in power to have other magicians (even theoretical scholars) outlawed, as well as using his magic to destroy all copies of the book about the Raven King that Strange has published after his estrangement with his former mentor.
* ByronicHero: After a while, Strange becomes so Byronic that his dear friend Lord Byron himself ''starts taking notes''. [[spoiler: He gets over it by the novel's conclusion.]]
* TheCaligula: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair. Just when you think he can't get more terrifying and degenerate, he'll surprise you - and Stephen - with some new misdeed.
* CameBackWrong: Lady Pole, although that's more the fault of the gentleman with the thistle-down hair constantly taking her away to Lost-Hope and enchanting her so she can't tell anyone about it - [[spoiler:once Mr Segundus breaks the enchantment on her, she's fully back to her old self again]] - and [[spoiler: the seventeen dead soldiers that Strange drags back from Hell.]]
* {{Camp}}: Mr Drawlight, especially in the TV series.
* CantArgueWithElves: In all his actions, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair is absolutely ''convinced'' that his beloved humans enjoy his games as much as he does. The idea that they are consistently horrified by their slavery on his account is so far removed from his own frame of reference that they just can't convey the notion to him.
* CassandraTruth: Vinculus, who alternates between giving true prophesies and being a charlatan. [[spoiler:He also happens to be ''a walking prophecy nobody can read''.]]
* CastingAShadow: One of the very few spells others witness Childermass perform.
* ChangelingTale: The Raven King is a straight example, but somewhat subverted in the bittersweet story of Stephen Black.
* TheChessmaster: John Uskglass aka the Raven King. It's implied that the plot of the whole book has been one long game for him.
* TheChosenOne: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, as prophesied by Vinculus. Although it's up for debate...
* CleverCrows: The Raven King's motif.
* ClippedWingAngel: [[spoiler: While in his death throes, the gentleman with the thistle-down hair starts taking on what we are to assume is a terrifying true form. Given that all the rocks, trees, earth, water, and shadows in England are working together to kill him, it doesn't make a difference.]]
* CloudcuckoolandersMinder: Drawlight and Lascelles are darker versions of this, profitting from being corrupt go-betweens for Norell.
* CoolButInefficient: A recurring trait in Strange's magic. His sand horses take too long to drag a stuck ship and rearrange the coast. In his war campaigns his images of dragons and angels sometimes scare Wellington's own troops rather than the French.
* CouldntFindAPen: Briefly discussed, when Childermass attempts to carve [[spoiler: the prophecy on Vinculus's body]] into his own skin in order to preserve it. He decides against it.
* CourtMage: Several are mentioned in the footnotes, such as Elizabeth I's personal wizard. Strange and Norrell act as updated versions, serving Parliament and politicans.
* CrazyCatLady: Mrs Delgado.
* DangerouslyGenreSavvy: Childermass manages to avoid most of the idiot balls being juggled by being the only one to act as if he's ever read a classic fairy story / ChangelingTale.
* DeadpanSnarker: Lascelles and Childermass. Most of Norrell's dialogue is this, as well.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Lost-hope, and most of Faerie by extension.
* DealWithTheDevil: Norrell makes a deal with the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, to bring Lady Pole back from the dead in exchange for half the remaining years of her restored life. What he doesn't realise is that [[LiteralGenie the Gentleman would take that time at present by imprisoning her in his Kingdom every night, rather than off the end of her life as Norrell assumes.]]
* DeathByAdaptation: [[spoiler: Jeremy Johns is killed during the Peninsula War in the tv series.]]
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Casual classism, sexism and racism are readily apparent, appropriate for Georgian society.
* DirtyCoward: Drawlight. Lascelles also considers Childermass to be this, which fuels much of their bitter rivalry.
* DisabilitySuperpower: The mad can see and talk to fairies even without the use of magic. When Strange realises the full implications of this, he [[spoiler: willingly destroys his own sanity]].
* DiscOneFinalBoss: The French army and eventually [[spoiler: Norrell]] for Jonathan Strange.
* DoorStopper: Don't drop the hardcover version of this book on your foot.
* DoubleStandard: At one point, Lascelles has an affair with a married woman, Maria Bullworth, who believes he will run away with her. Of course he does nothing of the sort, and when the affair becomes public her reputation is ruined, her husband casts her off and she is forced to live on her father's charity, secluded in the country. Lascelles, naturally, gets off scot free without any judgement from polite society. You can hardly blame Mrs. Bullworth for wanting to get revenge on him with magic.
* DrivenToSuicide: Attempted by [[spoiler: Lady Pole]] in the TV series.
* EncyclopediaExposita: This is done a ''lot,'' with characters often debating the relative merits of the various books.
* EnigmaticMinion: Norrell's "Man of Business" Childermass is loyal but shows a surprising degree of autonomy, and his motives aren't quite clear. He even learns a few spells secretly; it'd be hard not to, after working for a magician for over twenty years.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: Christopher Drawlight may be an insufferable yes-man, but he cannot bear the idea of not appearing like a gentleman; Henry Lascelles is a thoroughly unlikable BloodKnight, but he vehemently despises cowardice.
* TheFairFolk: They're so self-centered that if it wasn't for their powerful magic they'd quickly end up extinct. It's debatable whether the gentleman with the thistle-down hair even understood the concept that other people might have different opinions. It's stated that Julius Caesar once served as judge of the Fairies, because at the time ''every Faerie alive'' stood accused of some crime or had close ties to an accused, so none were fit to stand in judgment. Despite being a key element of the story, only two members appear.
* FairyCompanion: More common in the past than the novel's setting.
* FairyGodmother: The gentleman's interactions with Stephen Black can be considered a very dark deconstruction. Having an incredibly powerful being with a set of customs and morality far removed from humanity's intent on being your friend and champion is described as a hellish life.
* FauxAffablyEvil: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair.
* FictionalColour: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair puts Lady Pole's little finger in a box that is the "color of heartache". Many other such colours are seen in Faerie.
* FireForgedFriends: In the BBC series, Strange and Major Grant become friends after Strange saved both their lives by creating cover with a magical mist. Before Grant showed a measure of contempt for magic.
* FisherKing: Used many times over.
** After Strange loses [[spoiler: Arabella]], he goes through a severe depression and begins writing on the walls and living in squalor. Once he properly [[spoiler: destroys his own sanity on purpose]], his house becomes a nightmarish lair.
** After Stephen Black [[spoiler:kills the gentleman and takes his place, he restores beauty and order to the gentleman's kingdom of Lost-hope.]]
* {{Foil}}: Strange and Norrell are one example of this; Stephen and the gentleman with the thistle-down hair are another.
* FootnoteFever: And how! Some pages are actually more footnote than novel. The grand champion footnote takes up 4/5 each of ''four successive pages.''
* FundamentallyFunnyFruit: The Jaywalking part of the ArsonMurderAndJaywalking of Strange's visions in Venice. Some of them are truly horrifying, of people with hollow faces and candles inside them. And then Strange starts to see pineapples everywhere to the point of this becoming a RunningGag. He even casts a spell to banish pineapples from Venice!
* GambitRoulette: The Raven King, and how! [[spoiler: According to Vinculus, the events of the entire book were orchestrated by him]], he's able to run three countries at the same time, one of which lies ''beyond Hell'', and he has enough magical power to rival Satan himself explicitly, including spells to foretell the future.
* GeniusLoci: Absolutely everything! Every single tree, river, stone and even odder things like the dawn or various winds. All magic comes from making deals and alliances with various GeniusLoci either directly or, in the case of most English magicians, indirectly thanks to deals made by the Raven King. The fact most humans don't realise these things are intelligent and thus don't learn how to talk with them is a serious impediment to their magical ability.
* GentlemanWizard: See the page quote. The titular characters, as well as the magic societies, if you consider them wizards despite their not actually ''doing'' any magic. Magic is considered the realm of the idle gentry, and Mr Norrell is not pleased to learn that Strange intends to teach a Jew.
* TheGhost: The Raven King is only seen in flashbacks [[spoiler:until he finally has a short but impressive cameo in the third to last chapter, where he talks to Childermass (who is made to forget the incident right away) and brings Vinculus back to life. Strange and Norrell, who try to summon him, only get to see a [[FacelessEye giant raven eye]] instead.]]
* GreyAndGreyMorality: Strange and Norrell; neither is "good" in any conventional sense of the word. Norrell is extremely selfish, blunt and determined to be the only magician in England, while Strange is arrogant, impulsive and insists in meddling with darker forms of magic.
* HeartbrokenBadass: [[spoiler: Jonathan Strange becomes even more impressive when he believes Arabella is dead.]]
* HereThereWereDragons: At the novel's opening, magic has faded from Britain (it's still studied, but not practiced) and great magicians and fairy servants are only a memory.
* HumanNotepad: [[spoiler: Vinuculus is covered (aside from his face and hands) in the prophecy of the Raven King. After it is fulfilled, it shifts into the magic book of the Raven King.]]
* IHaveManyNames: The Raven King, aka John Uskglass, aka the Black King of the North, aka the nameless slave (from his changeling childhood, though rarely used), etc. This actually figures into the plot when [[spoiler: Strange and Norrell try to magically locate the Raven King but can't figure out which name to use in the spell. Norrell speculates that The Raven King did this on purpose, because names are such an important part of magic. Without his true name, it gets difficult to do anything related to the person you're trying to target.]]
* IKnowYourTrueName: A vital tool for precisely aiming magic at a target. Summoning and curses are two notable examples where knowing a name aids this. [[spoiler: The gentleman's curse on Strange has the side-effect of targeting other English magicians since the faerie did not bother to name Strange in it]]. Norrell also notes that the Raven King may well have deliberately avoided taking a true name in England to avoid this.
** Also, the gentleman with the thistledown hair learns Stephen Black's true name, given by his mother before her DeathInChildbirth, and intends to use it to make Stephen's fortune. [[spoiler: Later, his last trump card to prevent Stephen from destroying him is to say that if Stephen kills him, he'll never know his true name. Stephen is willing to live with this.]]
* IllGirl: Emma Wintertowne starts out as this, and things go FromBadToWorse from there.
* InHarmonyWithNature: Apparently what separates the great magicians from the present novices.
* InSpiteOfANail: In spite of the fact that Northern England was formerly a separate country, ruled by a magician-king for 300 years, England and Europe at the time of the novel are almost exactly as they were in history. Sir Creator/WalterScott, Creator/LewisCarroll, Francisco Goya, and Creator/LordByron all show up, and are shown or implied to be just as they were in RealLife.
* TheIngenue: Both Emma and Arabella already have shades of this, but Flora Greysteel ''breathes'' the trope.
* InhumanlyBeautifulRace: Subverted with faeries. It is implied this is a result of their shapeshifting and vanity rather than natural looks.
* InsubstantialIngredients
* ItsAllAboutMe: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair.
--> Stephen thought rapidly. "But his return may have nothing to do with you at all, sir," he offered. "Consider how many enemies he has in England human enemies, I mean. Perhaps he has come back to continue his quarrel with one of them." The gentleman looked doubtful. Any reasoning that did not contain a reference to himself was always difficult for him to follow.
* KarmaHoudini: [[spoiler: Norrell might be trapped in eternal darkness for the foreseeable future, but he really doesn't see this as a punishment, and he is never brought to justice for the horrible things he does to Lady Pole.]]
* KarmicDeath: [[spoiler:Lascelles, though his was more of a Karmic FateWorseThanDeath since he's now trapped into being the Champion of the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart, killing challengers until someone kills him; the gentleman with thistle-down hair whose death ultimately ends up making Stephen into a King as he promised]], and Lawrence Strange.
* KickTheDog:
** Drawlight once threw a cat out a third-floor window.
** Mr Norrell's treatment of Arabella at the book auction; while she's in tears at having failed to buy even one of the magical books being auctioned for her husband, he walks by with one of them in hand without so much as a word or glance for her. Even in-story, people thought that was pretty harsh.
** Many of the gentleman's actions, even though he has no idea of the immorality of his actions, but his pursuit of Stephen's name is a new extreme. In his mission he kills all the women a man kissed, burned a house to the ground with women, children and the elderly inside, strangled a woman with her own pearl necklace, and broke into an elderly widow's home leaving her exposed to a bitter and probably lethal winter cold.
* KlingonPromotion: The reason the gentleman with the thistle-down hair wants Stephen to kill the King of England. Stephen tries to explain that the British monarchy doesn't work that way, or at least not any more. [[spoiler:But in the fairy world it does, so when Stephen kills the gentleman, he gets his kingdom.]]
* LaserGuidedAmnesia: Mr. Segundus can't clearly remember his visit to Mr. Norrell's.
** Childermass can't remember [[spoiler: his encounter with the Raven King.]]
* LemonyNarrator: The Narration often speaks in first person, and is ''very'' snarky.
* LoopholeAbuse: In the TV series, Lady Pole thinks of an ingenious way to work around the spell that prevents her speaking or writing of her magical predicament: she creates a tapestry out of her dresses, showing her, the gentleman and Stephen Black at Lost-Hope. Sadly Norrell's efforts ensure that Mrs Strange does not get the chance to truly comprehend it and write about it to her husband.
* TheMagicComesBack: The main point of the book.
* MagicRealism
* MasterOfIllusion: Strange's go-to and earliest tactic in Wellington's battles is to create images of dragons and angelic hosts to scare the French.
* MeaningfulName: Stephen Black. [[spoiler: Stephen means crown, a motif associated with the character.]]
* ModestRoyalty: In his invasion of England, the Raven King dressed in rags and drank milk from a wooden cup while negotiating with Henry II. [[spoiler: When he appears in the novel's events, he is dressed instead in fashionable upper class clothing.]]
* MysteriousPast:
** The Raven King, who was abducted by fairies as a child and ''somehow'' managed to become both their king and a magician bordering on PhysicalGod.
** Also Childermass. We don't even know why he puts up with being Norrell's servant. See EnigmaticMinion.
* {{Narcissist}}: One of the gentleman's defining characteristics, perhaps even distinguishing him from other faeries.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: All throughout the book.
** Norrell's summoning of the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, leading to Lady Pole and Stephen Black becoming enchanted.
** Strange deciding to [[spoiler: use Black Magic]] during the war, simply to get some information on some rather unimportant cannons.
* NobilityMarriesMoney: Sir Walter Pole's marriage to Emma Wintertowne.
* NoNameGiven:
** The gentleman with the thistle-down hair.
** The author has stated that her intention was for the Raven King to have NoNameGiven, but in the end this was played with as [[IHaveManyNames he has many names]], though arguably, none are his "true name" but rather universally nicknames or titles.
* NotQuiteDead: [[spoiler:Vinculus after the hanging.]] He even makes a point of telling [[spoiler: the gentleman with the thistle-down hair]] that he's pretty hard to kill, but of course the fairy doesn't listen.
* ObliviouslyEvil: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair has no idea that what he's doing to his human "friends" is anything but kind and generous.
* OneSteveLimit: Averted with Jonathan Strange, John Segundus, John Childermass, and John Uskglass. There are a couple lesser Johns in the book as well.
* OopNorth: The Raven King formerly ruled Northern England as a separate kingdom from his capital at Newcastle. It's also stated that as a result of this the North of England is intrinsically more magical than the South. Both Norrell and Childermass are very proud Northerners.
* OrderVersusChaos: The conservative Norrell represents order, with the more likable Strange being more allied with chaos, given his interest in fairies and willingness to move parts of Spain and Belgium while helping the British in the Napoleonic wars. However, despite his repellant personality Norrell's viewpoint is shown to have merit: magic is dangerous and should be handled with care. There is also a theme of reason versus madness. Strange [[spoiler: deliberately goes mad for a long while]] to gain deeper insight.
* OurFairiesAreDifferent: They have incredible magical powers, due to being able to commune directly with the landscape. They are also nigh-immortal and can shapeshift. General racial characteristics include capriciousness, laziness and vanity
* OutOfCharacterMoment: Norrell laughs with delight and is genuinely impressed when Strange demonstrates his mirror magic, a rare expression after several chapters acting like a dour, arrogant and fussy scholar with no joy beyond reading.
** The Gentleman actually expresses fear when Strange visits Lost-Hope.
* PerceptionFilter: How the gentleman's spells of concealment appear to work, as mad people can see straight through them. Strange can sense something is there, and hears muffled snippets of the gentleman's conversation with Stephen Black.
* PetTheDog: It's hard to dislike Jonathan Strange after he is kind to a mother cat during one of the battles with the French.
* PoisonousFriend: The gentleman's relationship toward Stephen Black. Drawlight and Lascelles to Norrell at times as well.
* PossessionImpliesMastery: Subverted. Strange only has access to books ''about'' magic while Norrell owns all the books ''of'' magic, yet Strange proves himself to be Norrell's equal (if not his superior) in magical power. Also, both men are portrayed as having an inflated perception of their magical prowess which is minimal compared to earlier English magicians.
* PowerBornOfMadness: Insanity has several advantages to a magician, however there are other methods that don't require actual madness.
* ProphecyTwist: Doubly subverted. At first, it's quite clear that "the nameless slave" is [[spoiler: Stephen Black]], until Vinculus [[spoiler: flat-out tells Black that the line refers to the Raven King]]. But when Norrell and Strange attempt to use this moniker to [[spoiler: contact the Raven King]], the spell accidentally (or possibly ''not at all'' accidentally) [[spoiler: finds Stephen instead]]. Similarly, it's ambiguous whether the prophesy about two magicians returning magic to England refers to [[spoiler: Strange and Norrell]] or [[spoiler: Vinculus and Childermass]] or possibly both sets of individuals, although Strange and Norrell unsurprisingly believe the former.
* PsychoSerum: Strange deliberately drinks essentially [[spoiler: "distilled madness"]] out of the logic that since lunatics can see fairies, he needs to [[spoiler: become insane to be able to see the gentleman with thistle-down hair.]] (Strange's summoning spells worked, as the gentleman himself admits to Stephen, but since the gentleman did not wish to speak to Strange he remained invisible to him. [[spoiler: The madness allows Strange to see past the glamour, to the gentleman's great shock.]])
* PullingHimselfTogether: Attempted by [[spoiler:the gentleman with the thistle-down hair]] after being defeated, but prevented by the magic of the land.
* TheQuest: The way magicians went off for a year and a day to find what they were looking for inspires the original effort to find a practical magician.
* TheQuietOne: Mr Lascelles. Especially noticable in the TV series: he lets other people do most of the talking, and speaks only when he can get a particularly snarky line in.
* RedOniBlueOni: Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
* ReligionIsMagic: Throwaway lines indicate that religion shares some characteristics with magic. Hell and Heaven are apparently accepted as existing, and Strange mentions that a piece of the Host diminishes his powers.
* RitualMagic: The most common form seen, and certainly Norrell's preference. However it weakened over the centuries as the natural world forgot its treaties with the Raven King.
* SanitySlippage: [[spoiler: Strange, once he shatters his own sanity]].
* ShadowArchetype: John Childermass towards Jeremy Johns; the trope is eventually acknowledged by Strange.
* [[ShownTheirWork Shewn Their Work]]+PaintingTheMedium: The book is written in a faux 19th century style and uses historical persons and events. In universe, the text is annotated in order to give context to artifacts or persons mentioned in passing. The style is a first-rate emulation of Creator/JaneAusten's at many points, down to the variant spellings ("shew", "surprize", "chuse", and so on).
* SmugSnake: Lascelles, very much so. He mistakes caution as cowardice, and [[spoiler: receives a horrific curse as a result.]]
* SociallyAwkwardHero: Norrell dresses well, wears a wig (albeit an old-fashioned one) and is able to conduct himself in polite society, but is entirely incapable of conveying his plans to people. He has a habit of going into long, exceedingly boring historical anecdotes and does not even ''care'' whether or not his audience is interested. It takes many months for him to even realise that most people do not believe in practical magic and that he needs to actually show them a spell in order to convince them. Drawlight and Lascelles first discover him behind a bookcase, engrossed in literature, at a party thrown ''in his own honour'' and take it upon themselves to become his social proxies.
** To a much lesser extent, Jonathan Strange. He's pretty socially viable, but is easily distracted by magic and theology, and doesn't even realize the suffering that he causes his wife.
* SpellBook: Many, both books ''about'' magic and books ''of'' magic. Norrell is hoarding the latter.
* SquishyWizard: No magician shows durability beyond a normal person. Indeed Norrell requires being bundled in many layers to go out into the show. Childermass is exceptionally tough, but that's implied to be a result of his stoicism.
* StalkerWithACrush: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair, to Stephen Black. It's unknown if his love is romantic in a conventional sense or simply beyond human understanding.
* SubmissiveBadass: Childermass can out-think pretty much all of the characters in the novel, and out-magic the majority of them. He is determined to serve Mr Norrell until it is disadvantageous for magic in England to do so. Indeed his submissiveness is one reason he is badass: in over 23 years of service to Norrell, he has learnt various spells, making him the secret third magician in Britain.
* SufficientlyAnalyzedMagic: Magic is treated both as a mysterious force and an unusual field of study. The actual nuts and bolts of the magic are largely glossed over, since the story is character-driven, but we learn enough to know that it is really complicated.
** There are however significant hints as to how magic really works; and the gentleman with the thistle-down hair even says so outright in a blink and you'll miss it moment. [[spoiler:Magic all comes down to making requests of genius loci (everything is a genius loci). The gentleman with the thistle-down hair and some Aureate magicians cultivate friendships with genius loci; most English magicians make use of the Raven King's treaties and alliances instead.]]
* SummonMagic: How one deals with faeries. This is very productive due to faeries' natural affinity for magic, caused by their ability to directly speak with the natural world. However it is extremely dangerous and requires diplomacy, cunning and reputation to use effectively.
* SuperStrength: [[spoiler: Lady Pole]] knocks down several men with ease despite being a delicate young woman when [[spoiler: attempting to assassinate Norrell]]. It is implied to be an empowerment from the gentleman with the thistle-down hair, considering Childermass' magical senses going haywire.
* SupernaturalSensitivity: One of the few magical abilities that can come emerge with no training when magic is in its dormancy. Childermass and Segundus almost faint when in the presence of strong magic.
* TallDarkAndHandsome: The Raven King, and many of his fairy warriors. Childermass is also tall and dark but [[TallDarkAndSnarky snarky]] rather than good-looking. (His face is described as bent, like a branch that grew the wrong way.) All of them get bonus points for having long hair and wearing [[BadassLongcoat long black coats]].
** It should be noted that magicians are expected to be TallDarkAndSnarky. One reason Strange is more popular than Norrell is because he fits the classic image of a magician, particularly [[spoiler: in mourning for his wife]]. He only misses being a classic example by having dark auburn hair.
* TaughtByExperience: Expressed by many characters to be the best way to learn magic. It is one of Strange's motivations to go to war, so he has the chance to practice new kinds.
* TechnicalPacifist: Strange is reluctant to kill with magic, as one of his more famous quotes illustrates. Yet he is perfectly happy to use magic to cause the death of others, as when he creates earthen hands to pull down French cavalry, allowing their compatriots to ride over them and giving the English a easier opportunity to shoot them.
* TechnicianVsPerformer: Another contrast between Strange and Norrell, highligthed in their spells at Portsmouth.
** Norrell (the technician) whispers some spells, and then declares the coast defended against foreign invasion, with no visible change. A politician later notes that it may be worth altering the spell to give it some visual effects to remind the British public of magic's value.
** Strange (the performer) pulls a stranded ship free by animating the beach Horse Sand into horses made of sand, then lashes them to the ship to pull it free. It takes longer than expected, half of the horses disintegrate, and the coast is changed- unhelpful to the local sailors. But despite this it impresses onlookers much more (particularly in the TV series).
* TeleportationSickness: Childermass experiences this [[spoiler: when Lady Pole is around, causing him (or his perceptions) to travel between this world and Faerie]]. Segundus suffers similar episodes, indicating that they have naturall strong magical senses.
* TextileWorkIsFeminine: When the theoretical magicians had to give up their society, many of them were a nuisance while their female relatives were doing needlework.
* ThereCanBeOnlyOne: Norrell makes it his special project to make sure no one practices magic except him. Even the theoretical magicians who meet in York are apparently too much of a threat.
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: The fops Drawlight and Lascelles.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Honeyfoot and Segundus.
* ThrowAwayCountry: A footnote implies that the country of Wales has been magically [[RetGone erased from existence]], [[LostCommonKnowledge its language remaining only in the minds of the insane.]]
* TitleDrop: Honeyfoot does this in the second episode of the miniseries.
* TookALevelInBadass: The heartbreak of [[spoiler: his wife's supposed death]] coupled with the gentleman's attempts to drive him crazy allow Strange to turn from a nice [[LordPeterWimsey Peter Wimsey]]ish guy into a powerful and frightening Byronic BadAss. This is kind of lampshaded, as after [[spoiler:rescuing his wife from Fairyland]], he becomes a bit more like himself and attributes his earlier behavior to spending too much time around Creator/LordByron.
* TrueBeautyIsOnTheInside: Arabella Strange is described as only beautiful, instead of pretty. But her good humour and vivacity make her incredibly attractive to those around her.
* UnableToSupportAWife: When first introduced, Drawlight is describing how he broke up such a love match for a richer one.
* UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom: John Segundus sets practically the ''entire'' plot in motion. Who knew the desire to learn why magic was gone from England would cause ''so'' much trouble? [[spoiler: Or possibly it all came about by the Raven King's design...]]
* TheVeryDefinitelyFinalDungeon: [[spoiler: The Library at Hurtfew]].
* WeakButSkilled: Segundus and Childermass are considerably weaker magicians than the two main characters, but their magical senses are far more acute. This is shown by them both almost fainting when encountering the gentleman's magic.
* WhamEpisode: The short final chapter of book two: "Arabella".
* WhereIWasBornAndRazed: At the end of the novel, [[spoiler:Strange destroys his house before journeying into Faerie with Norrell. Technically, both Strange's and Norrell's houses become "lost", not destroyed. Sometimes people claim they can see Norrell's house from afar, while Strange's cat still finds Strange's house, slipping between the neighboring houses into another realm where humans can not follow]].
* WhiteHairBlackHeart: The gentleman with the thistle-down hair.
* WildMagic: Implied to be the true form of magic. All of the more ritualised forms humans use may just be the wild magic of the natural world summoned under the treaties of the Raven King.
* WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity: It's noted how fairies who have the most powerful magic often have the same level of sanity as humans in madhouses. On the other hand, Norrell and Strange weren't insane when they performed their greatest feats of magic, and neither were the Aureate magicians of the time of the Raven King.
* XMeetsY: The book has been described as "J.R.R. Tolkien meets Creator/JaneAusten", "Literature/HarryPotter for Adults", or "Harry Potter for History Buffs".
* AYearAndADay: In Aureate times, magicians would go on quests for this long. The Raven King vanished for that long, once. It caused a lot of consternation because he only told one person he was going. That person didn't hear him right, and reported that he would be gone for ''a day.''
* YouAreWorthHell: A rather sweet non-romantic example between Strange and Norrell. [[spoiler: They consent to spending many years in the Darkness together, and both realise that they're rather excited about the prospect of being locked up in eternal Night while continuously doing magic together.]]
* YouKillItYouBoughtIt: [[spoiler: Lascelles eventually follows a fairy bridge and ends up in Faerie, where he kills the Champion of the Castle of the Plucked Eye and Heart to prove he is braver than Childermass but instead is forced to take up the knight's place until someone kills him.]]
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