Literature / Wizard's Hall
is a children's fantasy novel written by Jane Yolen, who also wrote The Pit Dragon Chronicles, The Devil's Arithmetic
, and... well, a ton of other things, really. Wizard's Hall
remains one of her better-known works. It's noted for bearing a marked resemblance to the Harry Potter
series, but predating Potter
by about 6 years.Henry
is a boy without many exceptional talents, or so he believes. However, his mother thinks he might have a talent for magic, so she ships him off to the Wizard's Hall
to learn the ways of sorcery. There, he is given the name Thornmallow—"prickly on the outside, squishy within"
and dumped into magical classes. Thornmallow proves to be as lacking in magical abilities as he is in other things—except for one odd excluded incident in which he causes an avalanche of snow in his classroom, with a single rose growing vibrantly in the center.
But Thornmallow does
have a (smudgy) nose for trouble, and he's smart enough to notice that not all is right at Wizard's Hall. The Magisters seem to be frightened. The supposedly lush gardens of the Hall are dead as doornails. He and his friends—good-natured Willoweed, energetic Tansy, and impish Gorse—start to do research into the matter, and discover a prophecy: The evil wizard Nettle, and his horrible Quilted Beast, are coming to claim Wizard's Hall, and only the 113th student can stop him. Thornmallow is
that student. But he's a terrible wizard! What will become of Wizard's Hall?
This book contains examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: Nobody can seem to get Thornmallow's name right.
- Arc Number: 113.
- Bittersweet Ending: Thornmallow will never be a great wizard, and just being around wizards will cause him pain for a long time, because of Nettle's stings. But He Chooses To Stay anyway, because he wants to be with his friends and do what he can anyway.
- I Choose to Stay: Thornmallow has the opportunity to leave Wizard's Hall at the end, but decides to stay anyway.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Thornmallow is corrected that the "black arts" are not evil, the term being from the fact that, like the bottom of a lake, they are deep and dangerous.
- Disappeared Dad: Thornmallow's father is only mentioned once, and never seen. It's unclear if he's even alive or not.
- Eccentric Mentor
- Fisher King: In a variant, even though Nettle isn't actually in charge of Wizard's Hall, as long as he's out there, no plants grow in the Hall's garden.
- Meaningful Name: All wizards get them. They're usually plant-related.
- Mystical White Hair: Thornmallow has hair "as white as dandelion fluff".
- Non-Action Guy: Thornmallow.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Discussed. "Which is worse—seeing or not seeing?"
- Ship Tease: Between Tansy and Thornmallow. They hold hands a couple times, and Thorny finds her comforting.
- Tomboy: Gorse takes great pride in her prickly name and boyish attitude. She also likes grossing people out.
- The Unintelligible: Dr. Mo. "Squark!"
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
- Wizarding School
- Words Can Break My Bones: And blind you, and make you deaf, and make you wracked with endless pain... Even kill you.