I am always looking for new books, movies and other media that might give me all the feelings I had when reading the Harry Potter series.
I was twelve when Harry first entered stage left and while my love of the boy wizard might have been heightened by hormones I believed it was true and like every other muggle I wanted to go to Hogwarts more than anything in the whole world. I waited in vain for my letter but I lived through my seven years with Harry, Ron and Hermione, thrilled by every danger and exhilarated by every victory.
In my heart I know those books hold a special place that cannot be recreated because they are unique but there are plenty of other authors doing amazing things in the fantasy genera that also deserve my attention.
While trawling the internet for reading recommendations I discovered a list of books on Bustle that promised to be ‘just as magical as Harry Potter. ‘ Moving faster then a Basilisk I set out to recapture the delight of magical worlds and promptly started reading The Magicians by Lev Grossman.
I read the book veraciously, devouring the intricate world building and magical storytelling (excuse the pun), however as I moved further and further into the tale something niggled at the back of my mind. Annoying me like a thorn in the paw.
And then it hit me. Why was everyone at Brakebills (Grossman’s version of Hogwarts) genius level smart?
I mean Ron and Harry were not exactly breaking the bank with their IQ’s (Hermione left them in the dirt on that score multiple times) but their other qualities, bravery, resourcefulness, rule breaking, were always celebrated by their author.
Unfortunately it seems in Grossman’s world only the geniuses are capable of understanding or performing magic. I can only assume this is because learning the craft is complicated, tedious and really hard to do. Or so the author would have us believe. But why should that mean that only the ‘really smart’ kids and not the ‘super determined’ ones make it to magic school?
I’m not saying this is a ‘everyone should get a award for participation’ situation but certainly reading this book it annoyed me that only clever people and not everyone had a chance to learn magic. That is unless you get drafted by the bad guys, but that’s another story.
I like to think I’m not a total idiot but let’s be honest I’m not a spelling bee champion or science fair award winner. Reading this book and realising that everyone at the school is achingly clever, something that we are almost constantly remind of, made it feel almost impossible to believe that I could be one of the Brakebills crew, curbing my enjoyment of the story.
Anyway, I’m curious to know what you think? As an author is it more important to create a world where everyone has a shot of being the hero or is it more important that the world fits the characters and not the wants/desires of the reader?