Monday, October 11, 2021

Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones #1976Club

Title: Power of Three
Author: Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011)
Publication: Greenwillow, hardcover, 2003 (originally published in 1976)
Genre: Juvenile fantasy
This review is for the #1976Club, hosted by StuckinaBook and Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings, in which bloggers are invited to read and review books that were published that year.

Description: A generation ago, Adara’s brother killed a defenseless Dorig for his intricate gold collar, unleashing a terrible curse. Adara married the leader of Garholt, and her three children grow up, each with a supernatural gift: Ayna has the gift of sight (assuming the right question is asked), Ceri can find things, while Gair, the middle child/Jan Brady of the family, believes he has no Gift at all and spends a lot of time staring moodily at the nearby Moor. Gair is fascinated by a giant he sometimes sees out on the Moor who also has a troubled relationship with his father. Gair learns from Gerald and Brenda, another giant, the Moor is going to be flooded to provide drinking water. Gair realizes this will flood the underground homes of his people. 

Although the three siblings don’t know of their uncle’s cowardly act, they realize ill fortune has affected their people and when the Otmounders are attacked by the shape-changing Dorig, they realize they must work with the Dorigs and the Giants to prevent the Moor from destroying their home while finding a solution that meets the others’ needs. The curse cannot be broken until the Old Power, the Middle Power, and the New Power can be overcome by our protagonists.

My Impression: I own most of DWJ’s books so was surprised to find this was not one of them. I know I read it when it came out and I seem to recall my mother reading it aloud to my younger siblings; however, I really had no recollection of it at all. I found the beginning a little slow, as it was mostly set-up for the younger characters to take center stage but once I got into it, I found it as absorbing as any of her books. I am always struck by how real her children seem – both their dialogue and their internal thoughts – and here there are eight distinctive youthful characters. As in Archer’s Goon, which I recall as being one of her masterpieces, there is a moment when the reader says, “Oh, of course, now I see what is happening,” as this skilled storyteller weaves all her threads together.
“Have you noticed,” Gair said loudly, “that we’re all people really?” All the faces turned to him, surprised and wondering. Gerald’s, Ceri’s and Hafny’s as well as the girls’. “I mean,” Gair explained, “that we’re all far more like one another than – well, dogs or spiders.”

“I should hope so!” said Halla. But they all turned and looked at one another thoughtfully.

“I see what you mean,” said Gerald.
It turns out that Gair’s gift is the “sight unasked” and realizing he does indeed possess one gives him the confidence to think he can broker peace.
Doesn't this Puffin look more like
Sutcliff than Diana Wynne Jones?
As a teen reading this, I wasn’t aware of an ecological theme but I certainly recognized that the children were able to compromise and work out a solution satisfying to the different races/species involved where the adult leaders could not. While I don’t think Power of Three will overtake The Ogre Downstairs (the first DWJ I read) or the Christopher Chant series or Fire and Hemlock as favorites, this was a good read.

Are you a DWJ fan? If so, what is your favorite?

Source: Library


Lex @ Lexlingua said...

I've only ever read DWJ's Howl's Moving Castle (and watched the Ghibli version). Now you've made me want to pick up the rest of her book backlist too -- especially The Ogre Downstairs!

TracyK said...

I am familiar with this author's name but don't know much about her or her writing. Very nice review.

kaggsysbookishramblings said...

I'm a huge DWJ fan, but I actually think this might be one I haven't read. I love her writing - she's so much better than some modern popular authors....

LyzzyBee said...

I only came across this one last October (well, I bought it a year or so before of course) and enjoyed it The Ogre and Charmed Life are still my two favourites of hers but I do love her.

Simon T (StuckinaBook) said...

Glad you had the chance to read a favourite author! I haven't read any, but I suspect she might be less my thing.