Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - Susanne Clarke

Mr Norrell is on a quest to be the only magician in England and to being back English magic. He is sick of all the theoretical magicians with no other practical magicians besides him, that is until magical prodigee Jonathan Strange enters the scene. At first Strange becomes the pupil to Norrell's master, but things change after he does a stint with the Duke of Wellington in Portugal and Spain in the war. Both men seem subject to a prophecy told by a street sorcerer from London called Vinculus and they have an unseen enemy, a man with thistle-down hair and no name.

A world of fairies and magic set mostly in England in the 1800's against a backdrop of the war with Napoleon, the mad King George and famous poet Bryon. The differences between the two magicians is pronounced, but separate they are not as strong and have no one else to share their interests with.

The supporting characters (especially Stephen Black and Childermass) are what really made this book for me. The other was Clarke's incredible attention to detail. The book is set in a real period of history, yet she works in many foot notes citing events that did and didn't occur as well as books that do and don't exist. Don't be put off by the length, once you start reading it, it becomes impossible to put down again.