Magicians of Caprona

deborah deborah at suberic.net
Fri Sep 13 11:36:37 EDT 2002


Well, besides the fact that this person is a livejournal friend of
someone on whom I have had a shameless net-crush (but who barely knows I
exist) for over a year,

And besides the fact that I find it odd that someone who lists one of
her livejournal interests as "children's literature" then has to make an
involved apology that the only reason she's reading her "kiddie books"
is because she feels miserable and has a cold,

1) yes, the families into Caprona are stereotyped, often to create a
humorous extreme.  So is Christopher Chant, who is the total English
parody of vague English man, and all of his male stereotypes that are
scattered across many of her books.  And it is their single character in
Sudden Wild Magic who doesn't hold in him or herself a huge bundle of
humorous stereotypes (usually -- but not always -- about gender)?
Howl's Moving Castle's humor is largely based on playing with
stereotypes, as is the serious theme in Power of Three.  Tough Guide is
entirely about stereotypes.  She plays with genre -- that means playing
with stereotypes -- that's where a lot of her genius lies.

2) she's also human, and humans have stereotypes.  If you look at her
books over the years, you can see ways in which she has grown as someone
who recognizes some of these and tries either to avoid them, or to use
them for humor or thematic value, instead of unknowingly.  Look at race
in the Derkholm books.  She's taking the fantasy stereotype of the crazy
desert people, or the Roman-style legions, and turning it on its head.
I don't know if she would have done that so successfully 22 years ago,
when she wrote Caprona.  (Although she still probably would have done
pretty good job.  She's always been concerned with issues of race.
Think Wilkin's Tooth/Witch's Business and Spellcoats.)

Witch Week is certainly the most accessible of her books to the Harry
Potter crowd, and one of her more accessible books in general.  Among my
favorites, I don't particularly like to rank.

That being said, Caprona has never been one of my favorites.

-deborah
deborah at suberic.net
--
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?   -- Paradise Lost

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