Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Now I Wish I Knew More About Fantasy

While I was traveling last week, I listened to the audio version of Septimus Heap: Magyk by Angie Sage. I enjoyed the experience a great deal, even though the book had a number of similiarities to that other book series about a boy wizard.

This wizard child, too, has been separated from his family. His family is a lot like the Weasleys, large with nice parents who aren't terribly successful. There's also an older uber-wizard like whatzzisname in Potter.

However, he's a ghost in Magyk. That really limits his ability to save the day. In fact, at an important point the main characters ignore his instructions (for a logical reason) and a climactic scene takes place without his influence.

This wizard world is also complete all by itself. There's no contemporary human world in this book, the way there is in Harry Potter. It's all wizard, all the time. The adult characters are much more sophisticated here, too. Septimus' family is not at all dysfunctional, either, even though they did lose him for a while. Ten years, in fact. And the characters don't lie in order to move the plot along.

Though I don't read a lot of fantasy, I've always felt the Potter books weren't particularly unique. The wizard school thing seemed familiar, and certainly the three friends on an adventure wasn't anything new. I don't know whether Magyk has been created in Harry's image or if both books are part of some fantasy genre I'm not familiar with.

Magyk, like Golden & Grey, which I talked about yesterday, is also filled with the marvelous detail we see in J. K. Rowling. I thought innovative detail was something unique to Rowling, but now that I've read Angie Sage, Louise Arnold, and, a few months back, Terry Pratchett, I see that a lot of writers are able to do this complete fantasy world thing and do it very well.

Which just leaves me wondering how Harry Potter fits into the fantasy world.

Look What I Found

This has absolutely nothing to do with children's literature, but today while I was wandering around on-line, instead of working, I found the Storyglossia weblog, which is connected to the Storyglossia Literary Journal. What's interesting about this weblog is that the blogger, Steven J. McDermott, does "book and short story reviews with a particular emphasis on the craft of short story writing." He links to stories published on-line and then discusses them.

Now, I don't know how good his commentary is, having just found the blog a few hours ago, but I'll be checking him out for a while. It seems like a good opportunity for someone interested in reading short stories and/or writing them.

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