yotg discussion (spoilers)

Philip.Belben at pgen.com Philip.Belben at pgen.com
Fri Dec 15 08:13:01 EST 2000





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Kyla, replying to me:

>> I must admit I too got a very strong HP feeling from the beginning of this
book.
>> I even at one point got a feeling of "Why is DWJ immitating Harry Potter?
She
>> doesn't need to do that!"  but it didn't take me long to find the answer - so
>> that she could show what can really be done with such a setting...
> Except Hogwarts is very much a *school*, for younger people, and
> the Wizards' University does seem much more like a *university*.

That wasn't an issue as far as my HP-feeling was.  I think the underlying
assumption that <you go to the magical school/university and they don't teach
anything but magic> stood out for me in both settings.  In fact it almost makes
sense for the university (it doesn't at all for the school!) except that the
implication is that the university of magic is the only university there is.

>> Which brings me onto the first of the things about which I was uneasy:  the
>> _deus_ex_machina_ ending, with Polycant suddenly appearing after all that
time.
>> Was he really necessary?  I think Querida will make a far better
vice-chancellor
>> than she ever was as chancellor, though!
> I think he was definitely necessary. The process that our six went through
> demonstrates that it is Policant's method of magic that is the best, and
> actually gets people to *think*. While Querida may be quite able, I'm not
> sure that she's a *teacher* so much. Policant has the ability to
> (metaphorically, thank you) light fires under all the students.

Fine, as far as it goes.  But I still don't like the deus ex machina
presentation.  In fact I don't much like deus ex machina endings in any
circumstances.  I agree that something is needed to sweep away the old order -
this is something the students spend most of the book discovering; I agree that
Policant's (I looked up the spelling last night - my mistake!) teachings are
just as up-to-date now as when he wrote them; and I agree that the uni. staff
whom we meet are all rotten teachers.  But I don't see why he had to return so
unexpectedly to perform the sweeping-away.

For example, Flury is an excellent teacher.  There are wizards around, like
Derk, who recognise the value of Policant's writings and those of his
contemporaries.  And there are any number of ways of sweeping away an old order
without a deus ex machina to do it for you.  About the only thing Policant is
needed for is to demote Querida to vice chancellor :-)

Deus ex machina worked slightly better in Time City, where Wilander has been
around all along, even if Faber John hasn't.  (This is almost exactly paralleled
with Koryfos/Andrew in Deep Secret.)  It also worked slightly better in Dark
Lord, where Anscher is a much more convincing deus and his appearance is
slightly less ex machina (he is responding to prayer).  On the other hand, since
at the end of DL the gods stepped in, I would have expected to see them at work
more in YotG, but they seem to have retired to the background again.  But over
all, I don't like the deus ex machina; I also think that ending things too
quickly is one of DWJ's weaknesses (someone mentioned this in connection with
Ogre Downstairs; Power of Three suffers similarly).

Haven't got time to disagree with any more of this message :-) let alone any of
the others, but I'm sure I shall have the opportunity to say more later.

Philip.







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