Thursday, June 21, 2012
Review - The Wizard in the Tree by Lloyd Alexander
Short review: Mallory finds a wizard hidden in a tree. They have adventures.
In an old oak tree
A sleeping wizard awakes
Magic is fading
Full review: Lloyd Alexander wrote consistently good children's fiction, usually with an element of fantasy. While The Wizard in the Tree is not up to the level of the Chronicles of Prydain, it still holds up as a well-written tale of a hapless wizard losing his powers and the young girl who discovered him.
The story begins when Mallory, a young village girl, discovers Arabicus, a wizard who has been trapped in an oak tree since he broke the rules concerning harming living things. She frees him, and discovers that he was trapped while on his way out of our world into a place where all magical creatures retreated long ago. Soon enough, they discover that Arabicus' magic is fading away and he will die if he doesn't leave.
Unfortunately, Mallory and Arabicus run afoul of the greedy village squire, who is trying to industrialize the town and make himself rich. Mallory and Arabicus lurch from silly adventure to silly adventure. The tone is much more light-hearted than the Chronicles of Prydain - the villains don't, for example, burn people alive as they do in The Book of Three (read review) and much more like most young adult adventure fantasy. The problems are those a villager would encounter, and the villains are venal rather than vile. The book is fun, but it is not anything more than that.
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