Book of Magic

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There are two kinds of writings having for subject magic; there are books of magic and books about magic. This article will deal with the former sort.

Books of magic were written before magic declined in England, that is, mostly during the era of the Aureate magicians. They contain effective spells. Unfortunately most magicians at that time wrote very little, or else their works did not survive through the centuries. Therefore books of magic are very rare, and very valuable; their price range is "above rubies".

Mr Norrell was, famously, the most avid collector of such books in England, and his library at Hurtfew Abbey was filled with them. We may compare it to the fabulous dragon-hoards we hear of in legend - and Mr. Norrell unfortunately was as jealous as a dragon in guarding it from the eyes of others, even those of his pupil, Mr. Strange. Hurtfew was considered the finest magical library of its time, certainly one of the best to have ever been in England, and perhaps even the best. (As a comparison, most private libraries did not contain more than two or three books of magic - and these were very fine libraries belonging to members of the aristocracy and other rich gentlemen.) This explains why Jonathan Strange, when he returns to England wrapped in his Pillar of Darkness, chuses to appear first at Hurtfew. The abbey's wonderful library, with all its vast array of magical knowledge, is essential if he is to carry out his self-imposed task of freeing his wife from her enchantment.

Naturally such precious objects as true books of magic were strongly protected by the laws of England. The deliberate destruction of such a book was a heinous offence: 'book-murder' was classed as equal to the crime of slaying a Christian. Upon conviction the malefactor's penalty (as Vinculus' wretched father Clegg belatedly discovered) was invariably death.

The perspicacious reader will no doubt have considered that books of magic are akin to practical magic, more of which you can ascertain here.