Risking Delight — The Awesomeness of Diana Wynne Jones & “The Power of Three”
A long while before that, around about the time I first started blogging and learned of Diana Wynne Jones’ terminal illness, I posted here about her profound influence on me as first a reader, and subsquently an author. If you’re interested, you can read that tribute, here.
A book I specifically mentioned then was Power of Three, as follows: “[her]… first book I recall reading was A Power of Three—and I loved it.”
I mentioned Power of Three again in the Supernatural Underground post, because—unable to resist temptation—I had finally (all these years later!) bought myself a copy of my very own. Yet there is always some trepidation in sitting down with a book you have loved as a kid or teen because there are some tales, alas, that do not stand the test of re-reading with adult eyes well.
At that stage, although I had only just dipped into Power of Three again, here is what I was already feeling:
“—but what a wonder of magical-ness it is. It isn’t just the actual magic given Wynne Jones’ is a pre-eminent Kids/YA Fantasy author. It’s her use of language, and the way she captures people in all their humanness, as well as a kid’s eye view of the world, and the delight of telling life — as Emily Dickinson would have it — “slant.”
Perhaps most of all, as a reader, it’s the sheer awesomeness of putting yourself into the power of a master storyteller — and knowing you are in safe hands.”
Now I have completed my re-read of the book — and you know what, I still feel exactly the same. Power of Three really is storytelling at its best. To the comments I have already made, I would like to add the following: humour! This is not what I would call “laugh out loud” funny, but I certainly caught myself reading with a broad smile on my face — best of all it’s “laugh with us” humour: we are laughing at ourselves and with ourselves in the very best kind of way.
I would also like to specifically mention the characters because there are quite a few of them: Gair, Ayna and Ceri; Gerald and Brenda; Hafny and Halla; Adara, Gest and Hathil—just for starters—but every character is vital and real and well drawn. The plot is rather comples, too, but as a reader I barely noticed because it worked! And altogether because of the magic and the characters, the humour and the plot that worked, and the human-ness and the wonderful language—well, I enjoyed my time within the pages of Power of Three thoroughly.
When I closed the covers, I felt thoroughly satisfied. Yet I also felt something more, something as important to me as a writer as it is as a reader. The US poet, Jack Gilbert, wrote (in ‘A Brief for the Defense‘) that: “We must risk delight.” On re-reading Power of Three I experienced delight both as a reader and as a writer reading another author’s work. This suggests to me, quite powerfully, that Diana Wynne Jones risked delight when she wrote the book — and that, I believe, is something all those who wish to be an author must do, every time we pick up our pen (or keyboard) and write.
- My first tribute to Diana Wynne Jones is here
- “Diana Wynne Jones, 1934-2011: A Personal Tribute” is here.
- I also really recommend Neil Gaiman’s tribute here, because it encapsulates knowing Diana Wynne Jones as both a friend and an author.