More James Potter

I’ve just finished James Potter and the Curse of the Gatekeeper, the second in G. Norman Lippert’s series on the Son of Harry.  At the end of the book there’s some additional material, including a statement to the effect that Lippert’s work reflects whatever he happens to be reading while he’s writing it.  He suggests that this is true of most people, and it’s certainly true of me.  My sentences get much longer when I’m reading Austen and I get a lot funnier when I’m reading Wodehouse. (Knowing this I try to read little else.)  I bet it’s not true of JK, whose style is awfully consistent and distinctive (if not always excellent) but that’s beside the point, which is that here lies the explanation for why Lippert’s first JP novel is so much better than the second.  During the writing of the first, he explains, he was reading That Hideous Strength, one of the most thrilling and intelligent pieces of science fiction ever produced.  During the writing of the second, he was reading Chamber of Secrets, a ball of fluff.  Gatekeeper is a good enough book, but it doesn’t touch the reflective heights of Elder’s Crossing.

At another point in his closing statement, Lippert threatens not to finish the series.  Probably an empty threat, as he himself admits.  Still, I think those of us who would like to see him write more, should haul ourselves over to Lulu and purchase his Petra Morganstern novel (during the composition of which he has clearly been reading Cinderella), enabling Lippert to quit his day job and devote himself solely to us.  At the same time (eschewing desperate proposals inciting Jackrroo’s scorn), let’s put our heads together and suggest some reading material that will raise the third book back up to the standard of Elder’s Crossing.

For my part, I would like to see a little more school in these schoolbooks, and will therefore start out with some standards in the genre.  Norman please read for me:  Tom Brown’s Schooldays, Stalky, Malory Towers, and “Such, Such Were the Joys.”  All these are solid school;  what’s more, all of them will deepen consideration of the best idea in Elder’s Crossing, the Progressive Element, for they all raise the question of what it is to be educated to rule an empire.

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5 thoughts on “More James Potter

  1. Crap, now I have to read _That Hideous Strength_. At least I’ll be able to think about drag names that share most of their letters with “Studdock”…

  2. Yeah, esque, you do. But read the abridged version. This is the only time you’ll ever hear me praise an abridged version of anything, but there it is. The publishers made him take out a third, and they were right.

    On another note, I think GNL has already been reading Malory Towers. I’m on MT book three, and I see that an American has come to school, an American whose name starts with a Z. Coincidence?

    Luke, yes. I can tell you that I am always critical of everything. You remind me to praise things that are praiseworthy. The DADA teacher was fantastic. Zane and the stinging hexes were great. Lots of fabulous inventions. Wish I was still reading it.

  3. Greets oonae, I finally got back around to see what you thought of Gatekeeper’s Curse and I am not disappointed. You, my friend, are the first person (I know of) who believed Elders’ Crossing was the better work, and for that I thank you– not necessarily because I agree, but because they are indeed quite different stories and I appreciate that they have various appeals. “Elders” was a less deliberate story than “Gatekeeper”, thus I think it allowed a bit more developmental leeway for some of the underlying ideas. “Gatekeeper” was nailed a lot more solidly to the essential plot, and relied, I think, a lot more heavily on that for its value.

    I thought of your previous critique whilst writing the climax for “Gatekeeper”, and I’d at least beg your indulgence that the final chapters of “Gatekeeper” were tighter and more satisfying than those of “Elders”, although this is probably only by a given definition of those qualities. Hmph.

    As always, of course, I relish your feedback. It is both helpful and amusing. And yes, please do tell as many people as you can find, even perfect strangers who’ve never heard of Harry and/or James Potter, to go buy the Petra book. It may not guarantee a JP3, but it’ll at least give me a reason to go on, and that’s really all a writer– even a fan-fiction hack — really needs, yes?

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