Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Harry in cape and sneekers flys his broomstick
Readers have nearly worn out this paperback copy.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first of J. R. Rowling’s series of books about a pint-sized magician that has become a box-office phenomenon.

Harry, an unwanted “baby on the doorstep” of his aunt and uncle since the death of his parents, has lived in a closet under the Dursley’s stairs for 10 years.  Harry’s parents were a famous wizard and witch. The Dursleys are normal.

At 10, Harry receives a scholarship to Hogwarts, a school for magicians. A giant sees that he’s equipped with the necessary supplies.

At Hogwarts, Harry studies broomstick operation and magic spells instead of Latin and composition, plays quidditch instead of British football, and his big adventure involves centaurs.

The novel follows the formula for books about outsiders at British public schools. (British public schools are private institutions, traditionally for upper class males.) There is competition between “houses,’ “common rooms,” and “first years” who are bullied by “old boys.”

Like Sidney Sheldon’s and Michael Crichton’s fiction, Rowling’s Harry Potter reads like a movie treatment. It requires context that Americans don’t know, but which a visual treatment can provide.

Like The Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter will be remembered as a movie, not a book.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
by J. R. Rowling
Scholastic Press. ©1997. 309 p.
1997 bestseller #1 (Tie); my grade: C

©2020 Linda G. Aragoni

The Eyes of the Dragon

The Eyes of the Dragon is a once-upon-a-time fantasy written by Stephen King for his daughter, who didn’t want to read his horror stories.

Old, and never-smart King Roland favored his older son, Peter, over the younger, Thomas. Peter is handsomer and smarter than Tom and he’s had the advantage of being instructed by their mother, who died when Tom was born.

Roland’s magician, Flagg, takes advantage of Roland’s infirmities and Thomas’s jealousies.

When Roland dies under suspicious circumstances, blame falls on Peter.

He’s confined to the tower for life.

Flagg is not only an expert on killing with poisons. He’s also a master of killing peasants with excessive taxation. That and a dog are what cause Flagg’s not-a-moment-too-soon downfall.

Eyes of the Dragon will appeal to young adult readers (and older ones) who, like Naomi King, don’t care for Stephen King’s horror stories.

Eyes has time-honored features of fantasy fiction—a handsome prince, a loyal sidekick, an evil wizard, and a tall tower from which no prisoner can possibly escape.

It also has David Palladini’s charming art work to give the story a feel of antiquity.

Flagg, the dastardly magician, hooded and secretive
David Palladini’s art work

Eyes doesn’t have a princess for Peter, but even in fantasy, you can’t have everything.

The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King
Illus. David Palladini
Viking Penguin. © 1987. 326 p.
1987 bestseller #10; my grade: A-

©2019 Linda G. Aragoni