A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians by H. G. Parry
A sweeping, tour de force retelling of the Jacobins, the Reign of Terror, slave rebellion, the burgeoning rights of man, and did I mention the magicians?
It is always fun to imagine what the world would be like if keystone events played out while navigating the addition of magic. In A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians, H. G. Parry does admirable work in re-imagining post-colonial war Britain against the rising tide of revolution across the channel. Enlisting notable figures from history, she imbues some with power while others remain plainly mortal (and oft time those pose the greatest threat). With prose that reminds me of my days spent reading Motions to Compel and drafting legal correspondence, A Declaration treats the reader to the same florid storytelling they enjoyed in The Unlikely Escape of Uriah Heep, all-the-while casting an animated humanity on figures whose roles in history have been cast in ink across the pages of middle school history books world over.
It is no easy task to bring Pitt the Younger and William Wilberforce to life as skillfully as Parry manages, but even then amidst witty repartee and the unveiling of fascinating magical history in England, the novel shines when it casts it's light upon Haiti and France. The inner turmoil and slow revolution (no pun intended) of Robespierre from unwilling passenger to the historically fanatic murderer of the Reign of Terror is masterfully handled. Yet for all the care and attention paid towards our MP, PM and Jacobin leader, none is handled quite so well as Fina whose journey from West Africa to the plantations of Jamaica follows a woman of character so well-rounded I still find myself in awe. Through her eyes we learn of the part magic plays in this world of slave trade and toil, of how widely spread the Art is throughout the known world, and we see a woman navigate the minefields of sugar cane, rebellion and her own strengths both owned in self and nurtured through experience.
A Declaration of the Rights of Magicians was a fabulous read, every bit as engaging and witty as Uriah Heep, while being wholly and utterly a separate beast from Dickensian Wellington. I cannot wait to see what else H. G. Parry puts out into the world, for these two efforts have both been outstanding.