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This is discussion archived from a time before the current discussion method was installed.

Khym Chanur: Cut Guarding The Portal, since the feline wizards are the maintenance team for the portals, not guardians who wait for weirds things to come through them:

Guarding The Portal — This is the day job of the protagonists of the Feline Wizards series, though so far only the first entry in the series actually involves the specific portals they're supposed to be guarding.


Morgan Wick: The series could be described as a smart, feminist alternative to Harry Potter, and exactly why it isn't the more popular of the two remains a mystery.

One, it hasn't gotten nearly as much of a marketing push - this was the first I'd even heard of it. But since that brings up a chicken-and-egg polemic, let's add that two, it's smart and it's feminist. The first doesn't sell, because heaven forbid people would actually have to think while they're reading, and the second always gets relegated to gazillionth-class status (and renders me surprised they'd publish it in the first place) by publishers and retailers, because heaven forbid we'd promote a series that appeals to girls.

Third, and less cynically, is the time and the place. Rowling is British while Duane is American, and it's possible that the home country of Doctor Who would be more receptive to science fiction and fantasy than the home country of too many Too Good to Last sci-fi/fantasy series to count, thus allowing the Potter books to gain more of a foothold there. And for whatever reason, the Young Wizards series did not catch on between 1983 and 1997, and any attempt to catch on after that would draw inevitable unfavorable comparisons to Potter.

Ununnilium: Plus, it doesn't quite hit the same Changeling Fantasy notes as the first Potter did, nor does it have the same level of Myth Arc. (Note that it does have perfectly good self-contained plots in each book. I'm just trying to give a reason as to why one gets picked over the other by the public at large.)

Later: Also note that the series did do well. Not Potter levels, but quite well for a kids' fantasy series.

Zeta: I think there's also the fact that Duanne's novels tackle religious topics. Harry Potter is totally secular. Duanne's wizards are literal agents of God fighting against Satan, which is sure to offend somebody in someway, or at least put them off the story. Her Powers That Be are only one step away from people giving up the charade and referring to them as "Micheal", "Yaweh", "Lucifer" etc. etc. A situation which is less marketable for obvious reasons.

Looney Toons: Actually, one character is in fact explicitly revealed to be an Archangel in disguise. But the Powers are not strictly Christian — they have different names (and genders!) in different mythoi — for instance, IIRC, the Archangel Michael and the Greek goddess Minerva are the same being.

Oh, and Morgan? In re: "it doesn't sell" — you don't get to the sixth volume of a series, and start a spin-off series, and go hardback over the course of twenty years by not selling. The Young Wizards books sell quite well by any writer's standards — they just aren't the 500-Pound Gorilla which is Harry Potter, Literary Event of the Millennium.

Zeta: Yes, but that view is just as likely to cause people to be upset as sticking to one religion or showing multiple gods - basically the series says there are only four gods in the entire universe and all others are just them in different forms.

Deus Ex Biotica: I think that this discussion, whille fascinating, amusingly overlooks the possibility that some actual strengths of Harry Potter might be in play here. It's not all about parents freaking out for religious reasons, or societal backlash against feminism, after all.

Ununnilium: Am I misremembering, or was the first book itself an exception to the Heroic Sacrifice rule?

Zeta: No, the two sidekick characters, Fred the White Dwarf and Kit's car got killed. I can't remember a book in this series where a sidekick wasn't killed off. Essentially, everyone is a red shirt in this universe. To the point that it's more shocking if you get to the end of the book and they're still alive.

Looney Toons: In the second book, Deep Wizardry, Nita has explicitly set herself up to be the sacrifice, knowing what it entails. At the last moment, another major character of the book, not a sidekick, offers themselves in her place.

Deus Ex Biotica: Corrections - everyone except the main two characters is Redshirt, and yes, the Pale Slayer is a sidekick. My favorite character in the series, but a sidekick all the same. Sure, he was antagonistic, but we all know what redemption equals. His role was auxillary, and that's what makes the difference.

Pavlov: I thought the concept of TimeHeart was a kind of dodge around the Heroic Sacrifice and Deader than Dead. If you die, you're dead forever: but we'll visit you! Maybe that's why TimeHeart doesn't show up in the books very much any more.

Tabby: Less a dodge, I always saw it, and more a reassurance and reinforcement to both the characters and the reader that you did do the right thing even though people died, there is a plan and a perfection, and — as Carl makes me sniffle every time by saying — "What's loved, lives." It's necessary in the first couple books, but after that Nita, Kit, and the audience have all the evidence necessary to sustain the fight.