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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Quadehar The Sorcerer: (Part 1 of The Book of the Stars)
by Erik L'Homme
Age Range: 9-11
The first part of a trilogy, ‘The Book of the Stars’, these books are, in the words of a French reader, a cross between Harry Potter and Star Wars, and have found as enthusiastic an audience in France as J.K. Rowling’s hero has here. It is interesting to note that, although J.K. Rowling’s French editions retain Harry’s name, Erik L’Homme’s young wizard has been changed from Guillemot to Robin for the benefit of UK readers, which seems to characterise the reluctance there has been to accept and translate foreign language books in the UK.
Robin lives in The Lost Isle, an environmentally aware/historically regressive land cast adrift from The Real World, a representation of our own Western culture. Robin can travel between these worlds, and to The Uncertain World, a threatening world of evil creatures, both human and magical, who in turn can stray through into Robin’s world. Learning his magic craft, Robin is apprenticed to Quadehar the Sorcerer, whose role seems not dissimilar to that of Rowling’s Dumbledore, protective yet challenging to his pupil, while the trainee wizard searches for his father, who abandoned his family before Robin’s birth to go to The Uncertain World.
This book is exciting and well written, but unfortunately the immediate connection with the ancient Celtic legends to which Erik L’Homme constantly refers his French audience has been lost, and with it a layer of meaning which would lift the trilogy above the boy wizard level.
The two final parts of the trilogy are Quadehar The Sorcerer and The Mystery of Lord Sha, both published by Chicken House.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)