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Literature: Mairelon the Magician
Mairelon the Magician is a fantasy novel by Patricia C. Wrede, set in a version of Regency England with wizards.

Kim, a street urchin, attempts to rob a traveling magician, discovers that he has real magical powers, and winds up as his apprentice.

There is a sequel, Magician's Ward, and the two books have been published together in a collected edition under the title A Matter of Magic. The Science Fiction Book Club also released a combined edition, under the title Magic & Malice.

These novels provide examples of:

  • Bastard Bastard: Laverham, a crime lord in Mairelon the Magician, is the bastard son of a minor lord.
  • Bewitched Amphibians: The lower-class slang for wizard is "frog-maker". At the end of Mairelon the Magician, Mairelon says he'll turn his brother into a frog for a few minutes if it would make him feel better, but he'd rather not.
  • Blue Blood: Several characters.
  • Cain and Abel: Criminal kingpin Dan Laverham is the bastard half-brother of Lord Gregory St. Clair. The resentful Laverham absolutely despises his brother, and St. Clair isn't any too fond of him either.
  • Chekhov's Skill: The first piece of stage magic that Mairelon teaches Kim is a trick knot that looks complicated but can be easily undone by anyone who knows what loop to pull. When Kim gets put under a control spell by Laverham, she binds Mairelon with this knot to show that she isn't actually under his control.
  • Clear My Name: Mairelon's driving goal in the first book is to prove he didn't steal the Saltash set. He actually has a trustworthy witness who can testify that he didn't do it, but he believes that unless he can produce the real thief suspicion will always hang over him.
  • Curtain Camouflage: In Mairelon the Magician, Kim hides behind a curtain when she wants to hide the fact she's been snooping around in the carriage.
  • Everyone Can See It: When Kim and Mairelon end up confessing their love for each other in a room full of people, no one is surprised or disapproving at all, even the guy they've only met a few times.
  • Friend or Foe: In Mairelon the Magician, Kim is accosted as she comes out of the pub, and blacks his eye before she realizes it's Mairelon.
  • Gambit Pileup: Five separate parties try to steal the Saltash Platter from Henry Bramingham's library over the course of a single evening. The sheer absurdity of this nearly gets Mairelon and Kim (Party number two) caught when they have to force themselves to not laugh upon the arrival of Jonathan Aberford (Party number five). All of them fail, because the real platter had been stolen over a week before and replaced with a forgery.
    • And then there's the climax, where every time they think they've got a handle on what's going on, somebody else whose plans have to be taken into consideration shows up, resulting in something like ten different interruptions, each of which rearranges the balance of power in the room. Really, this book is "Gambit Pileup: The Novel".
  • Gentleman Wizard: Mairelon.
  • Gold Digger: Everyone thinks that Lord Gideon Starnes is one, as he's very attractive and quite poor. He's actually quite devoted to his childhood friend, the gorgeous Letitia Tarnower, who, unfortunately for him, is a real Gold Digger who wants nothing to do with a man whose fortune vanished in a haze of gambling debts years ago.
  • The Highwayman: Mairelon the Magician had a self-styled druid of dubious competence attempting to rob a coach filled with professional criminals in an effort to get his hands on an enchanted platter he wanted to use for a ritual (which the people in the coach didn't even have). He fails miserably.
  • Historical Fantasy: Set in an alternate version of Regency England.
  • Instant Runes: Averted in Mairelon the Magician, and more explicitly in Magician's Ward, as Mairelon explains that the use of most magic requires runes prepared in advance.
  • Lie Detector: Individual pieces of the Saltash set can be used for this; the whole set together can be used to force people to speak the truth.
  • Magical Foreign Words: Magicians use a foreign language because if you try to cast a spell using your own native language, it becomes uncontrollable. The amount of danger increases the further along you get in your magic studies. A first-year student casting a spell in their native language isn't likely to have results that are too awful, mostly because they are not yet able to use that much power. A third-year student casting a spell in their native language may be dealing with the consequences for weeks.
  • Magicians Are Wizards: Mairelon is a wizard who chooses the role of stage magician (in which he is also competent) to hide from the law, as nobody would expect a real magician to waste his time playing marketplaces.
  • The Magocracy: The novels are set in a world where magic does exist, and Wizards are so influential that the government and society bows to them. Specifically British Parliament had to move out of its building because the Wizards already worked in it, and Wizards are automatically considered social equals of any level in society. It's never implied that the King of Britain is a wizard, but the Russian royalty certainly is.
    • Also, magic is taught as a part of upper-class education, in the same way as Latin is. (Though not all nobles are good at magic, and a fair fraction can't use it at all, it does mean that most trained Wizards are from an upper-class background to start with.)
  • Meal Ticket: Lady Granleigh's heiress ward, Marianne. Lady Granleigh's debt-stricken brother expects to marry her; unfortunately, nobody consulted Marianne, and she runs away with a young man more to her liking. In the second book, Letitia Tarnower tries to turn Mairelon into one, failing because he simply wasn't interested in her. No mention is made of whether or not she bagged her secondary target.
  • Mentor Ship: In Magician's Ward.
  • Old Retainer: Hunch.
  • People Puppets: Dan Laverham tries to use a piece of the Saltash set to do this to Kim. Unfortunately for him, the Saltash spells only work once on any person, and Kim's already had them used on her.
  • Regency England
  • Romantic False Lead: Lord Franton in Magician's Ward. He's a perfectly nice guy who's sincerely attracted to Kim; he just isn't the one Kim is in love with.
  • Sarcastic Devotee: Hunch, who is absolutely loyal to Mairelon but (not unreasonably) has a very low regard for his common sense.
  • Set Bonus: The Saltash set is a grouping of enchanted silver objects which are more powerful together than apart.
  • Shipper on Deck: Lady Wendall ships Kim/Mairelon. Her reaction to them becoming an official couple is described by Kim as "smug."
    Lady Wendall (amused): "I see you have decided to take my advice after all, Richard. Marrying your ward is exactly the sort of usual scandal I had in mind; I wonder why it didn't occur to me before."
  • Street Urchin: Kim
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The street urchin Kim is a girl disguised as a boy. Hard as her life is, it would only be harder if people knew she was female.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: At the very end of Mairelon the Magician, William Stuggs, Jasper Marston's apparently dim-witted henchman, calmly reveals himself to be a Bow Street Runner. This is helpful, as it means he's witnessed the entire climax and has no uncertainty about who to arrest.

The MagidsLiterature of the 1990sMalazan Book of the Fallen
MaiaFantasy LiteratureMalazan Book of the Fallen

alternative title(s): Magicians Ward
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