A Portrait of the Raven King as a Young Man
So I’m on my second time through ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’. Goodness gracious, what do you say about this book? I’m sure it’s a very niche-audience work, but I am very well within that niche of people who love Regency-era British literature, historical fiction and well-thought-out fantasy. This novel pleases all three pleasure-centers in spades. Didn’t know you had a Regency-era literature pleasure center, did you? It’s easy to miss due to its quiet formality and slight aloofness, always sneering down its nose at the electronic entertainment pleasure center, which is quite the attention hog. But I digress.
‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ is a big, thick, unruly book with many characters and lots going on. It’s very slow at first, but once it picks up, you don’t want it to stop, what with its triple-pleasure-power. And it… really doesn’t stop for a long long time. It’s amazing. Susanna Clarke spent like a DECADE writing this thing, and it is sprawling; with humor, horror, (quietly formal) romance, magic, fairies, more magic, and even a big, climactic… climax. Jane Austen never had a big climactic climax. (That was totally not a double-entendre regarding being a middle-aged spinster, btw.) I hear there’s a movie on the table, which is both awesome and sad for the age-old reason that a book this huge cannot be condensed. It’d steal its whole charm. Aw, who knows.
Anyway, all this is to say that I started out illustrating a scene from the book-world’s history when the Raven King arrives in England for the first time after being raised by fairies in Fairie for fourteen years. Note: that means that in this illustration he is fourteen years old. That’s why he “looks like a girl”, to all you people who thought so. Apparently fairies don’t think much of short hair. *ahem* He comes back, kicks ass, rules the Northern half of England for three hundred years, then disappears and other stuff happens (namely the stuff in the book). But instead of illustrating the actual scene with his fairie soldiers and stuff, it just turned into a portrait due to me actually wanting to finish it. Thus, the dude standing behind him in the sketch not being there anymore later. Goodbye, fairie dude. The background is a mock-up from several different photographs.
Also, below is the “light” version I made before realizing he was wearing black wool in that part. Which was silly of me altogether because, like any hip goth guy, he only really ever wore black. With his long, dark hair hanging greasily before his dark eyes, like pools of shadow; unfathomable and remote, dark as a raven’s wing at midnight… at the bottom of a well. Of ink. (Whoa– flashbacks from the “Bad Poetry Day” post…)
I’m working on another character, the street magician Vinculus, and a depiciton of the magic done at Yorkminster Cathedral, both of which I shall hopefully post shortly. Until then I shall say “shall” more, and look down my nose at their unfinishedness with aloof haughtiness. Pish tosh!