That’s not the voice of god, that’s just a ring modulator

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Elizabeth Sandifer

Elizabeth Sandifer created Eruditorum Press. She’s not really sure why she did that, and she apologizes for the inconvenience. She currently writes Last War in Albion, a history of the magical war between Alan Moore and Grant Morrison. She used to write TARDIS Eruditorum, a history of Britain told through the lens of a ropey sci-fi series. She also wrote Neoreaction a Basilisk, writes comics these days, and has ADHD so will probably just randomly write some other shit sooner or later. Support Elizabeth on Patreon.


  1. David Anderson
    July 11, 2015 @ 9:22 pm

    I've watched this a few weeks ago now, so I can't remember exactly which episode some of the incidental lines of dialogue fall into.
    I believe this is the one where 'the Raven King' becomes associated with popular unrest, and with Strange's line that the Raven King is probably at this point a symbol of collective magic.
    Thinking about the conversation I had with Aylwin last week about the Raven King as an authority along the lines of Aristotle on what magic is – I think he's not well enough defined as a figure to function as an analogue for that. He's much more of a figure of something that the gentlemanly world in which Strange and Norrell exist can't incorporate.


  2. Aylwin
    July 11, 2015 @ 11:25 pm

    I agree to a substantial extent, and I tried to hedge on that a bit. My line was effectively "But if you do think of him as a person, where does he fit?" We can't say too much about the last episode, but I think that, while keeping him obscure, it does take a tack towards presenting him as a concrete individual, with biography, physicality, will and enduring authority, though it also takes an ambiguous tack the other way. Assembling the ideas linked to the Raven King around the image of a person is a choice, which does have consequences for the thematic structure the story builds up, whether they are intended or not.


  3. Aylwin
    July 11, 2015 @ 11:31 pm

    Between Stephen's doubts about the Gentleman's "kill the king, take his place" constitutional theory in the previous episode, and their extraction of the Moss Oak, I feel it ought to be possible to contrive a joke around the line "Strange women lying in ponds are no basis for a system of government!", but I can't get it to fit together.


  4. John
    July 12, 2015 @ 4:36 am

    The changes from the book here start to be interesting, in that the book basically has Strange sad about Arabella's death, but not increasingly unhinged. In the book, he basically accepts her death and moves on – he writes his book, then heads to Italy to unwind a bit. He never tries to resurrect her, as far as we know. His later attempts to summon a fairy have nothing to do with bringing back Arabella. The confrontation with Norrell also doesn't happen.

    So basically the whole dynamic Phil describes here doesn't really exist in the book, and I think it's a tremendously effective change.


  5. Scurra
    July 12, 2015 @ 8:30 am

    Yes, I think this is where Harness really seizes control of the narrative from Clarke and forces the story to become a television pastiche rather than a historical pastiche – not that the original is bad for being that (quite the opposite, in fact), but, as I noted regarding episode one, it's not a visual form and the tropes are very different.

    (In passing, I will note that my mother was confused about who Lascelles was, given the way Drawlight was allowed to dominate the initial episodes. But it does give him a proper character arc.)


  6. Gnaeus
    July 12, 2015 @ 11:52 am

    If you want a name for the Raven King, then he's Robert Aske.


  7. liminal fruitbat
    July 13, 2015 @ 5:41 am

    The climax of the book allows for something about fgenatr snvevrf ohevrq va fgernzf.


  8. Alex Thomas
    July 13, 2015 @ 7:43 am

    The Raven King in this context is clearly supposed to evoke King Ludd, the folkloric leader of the Luddites who lived in Sherwood forest and warred on the exploitative labour practices of industrial England. In general, he seems to represent all the disreputable, enthusiast energies of the mob, the seething, populist discontent that was viciously suppressed by the government during the later part of the long eighteenth century (there were more troops protecting factories than on the continent during much of this period). While I'm not entirely happy with these largely egalitarian and republican (in the anti-monarchical sense of the word) movements being linked to the revival of an archaic monarchy, it's nice to see some of the radical politics of the period get some play, as I've been frustrated by the largely apolitical (or, indeed, distressingly patriotic) nature of Strange's supposed Romanticism.


  9. prandeamus
    July 13, 2015 @ 11:39 am

    Don't be ridiculous. Once upon a time there was a miller from Southport who became engaged to a seamstress. She wanted a ring so he approached a local silversmith who stole a leaf of bread at midnight in order to appease his shrewish wife. Meeting at midnight by the gibbet on the moor, seven tailors danced until the dormouse and the wolf ate the hidden moonlight.

    I hope that makes things clear.


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