Literature / Wizard's Hall

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?

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