Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones
|Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: Ruth Ng|
|Summary: Unputdownable! A powerful curse, shape-shifters, magical beings, sons who don't understand their fathers, racial prejudice...a gripping, wonderful read!|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: January 2011|
|Publisher: Harper Collins Children's Books|
Gair's father is the chief of their mount. Gair's mother is famous for being incredibly wise. His brother and sister, Ceri and Ayna, both have special gifts, and so it is just Gair who is left feeling ordinary and out of place. However, when a powerful curse begins to affect the livelihoods not just of his people but also their enemies, the Dorig, and the Giants, it is up to Gair to find a way for them all to survive...
So, I should probably tell you first that when I began to read this story I groaned, inwardly. Everyone has funny Celtic names, they obviously aren't human, and there's another funny species they seem to be living in fear of, and I had one of those 'oh no, I'm never going to follow this' moments. However, that lasted about 3 pages because I was very quickly, and completely, hooked. Somehow Diana Wynne Jones creates a whole host of characters who bounce to life in your mind, and I wanted to know more...who were they? What were these words they could say to make things happen? Who were the Dorig? And what did the giants have to do with anything?
There's a wonderful pace to the story. We discover Ayna and Ceri's gifts as they do. We follow Gair's unhappiness and are with him step by step as he falls into his own adventure. I read the last half of the novel all in one go, late into the night, because I absolutely had to see what was going to happen. It was a lovely feeling, reading a book like that, and I wished I'd discovered this book years ago as a child. There's lots of action, and also humour to the tale too. The author cleverly relates everything to the 'real' world (though I won't spoil it by saying how) and the finale is written with just the hint of a lesson in compromise, sacrifice and diplomatic negotiations!
There are interesting themes about racial tensions and conflict. The three different races all having differing opinions about each other, preconceived stereotypes that they slowly start to realise are wrong, and the questioning of these assumptions about each other begins with the children. I enjoyed all the moments where they began to realise how similar they were. Wynne Jones also captures familial relationships well, mainly looking here at the relationships between fathers and sons and the difficulties there can often be between them.
I liked the way magic is referred to in the story, seeming magical to some of the creatures, but completely normal to others. It is fantasy fiction, with powerful curses, special gifts, shape-shifting and magical abilities, but it is also recognisable to readers, being based in a human-like world. There are some frightening moments, but nothing horribly scary. I'd guess that those eight and over should be fine, and although it's probably aimed at the eight to twelve age range it will no doubt also appeal to older teens, and their parents too! This is a reissue of the story since it was originally published in the 1970's, but it hasn't aged and will hopefully continue to be read for many years.
Although this was a really fabulous book I did decide to knock off half a star, for two reasons. Firstly, there's a bit of an issue about 'fat' people. There's a young character in the book who is described as being fat - nothing wrong with that except I sensed an assumption, behind the text, that that means she's also not pretty. At the end the character is told not to worry and that in the future she'll be thin and pretty, and it just made me feel a little uncomfortable as I read it because of course thin does not automatically equal pretty, and it isn't something I want my daughter to grow up thinking. Also there's a funny little extra ending, summing up what happens afterwards, that I felt the story could have done without. But these are just small niggles and should not, in any way, put you off reading this wonderful book!
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.
Further reading suggestion: For more fantastic fantasy try: Charmed Life also by Diana Wynne Jones.
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You can read more book reviews or buy Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones at Amazon.com.
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