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The Wizard in the Tree
Lloyd Alexander
Penguin Puffin, 138 pages

The Wizard in the Tree
Lloyd Alexander
This author's many honours include Newbery Medals for The High King and The Black Cauldron, and National Book Awards for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian and Westmark. Another of his books, The Arkadians, received critical acclaim and appeared on the Dorothy Canfield Fisher Children's Book Award Master List. Alexander and his wife live in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Gypsy Ritza
SF Site Review: Time Cat
SF Site Review: The First Two Lives of Lukas-Kasha
SF Site Review: The Arkadians
SF Site Review: The Iron Ring
Biography
Lloyd Alexander Tribute Site

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Jonathan Fesmire

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Life for Mallory, a young servant and the protagonist in Lloyd Alexander's The Wizard In The Tree, is about to take several strange turns.

Until now, the worst part of Mallory's life has been working as a maid for the grumpy Mrs Parcel. However, her peaceful town is undergoing changes thanks to the selfish leadership of Squire Scrupnor. He's busy turning her town into a coal mine. The squire seems to think that change is good, so long as it benefits him. If someone gets in his way, he's happy to revise his own rules, go back on his own promises.

In the midst of this, Mallory uncovers probably the strangest thing she's ever seen in her young life: a man trapped in the trunk of a felled oak. With this strange occurrence, The Wizard In The Tree begins.

Mallory helps free the scruffy man and discovers that he's an enchanter from ages passed. A foolish mistake trapped him in the tree when his people were leaving our world for theirs, the land of Vale Innis. At first it seems as though he can make it there himself, so for freeing him, Mallory asks for three wishes, and has her first disappointment. Abrican does not grant wishes. No enchanters do.

When he decides to give her a small gift, he discovers that his magic is failing. If he does not return to Vale Innis soon, he will die.

Though Mallory's fairy tales are proven false over and over, the same idealism she learned from them is what keeps her helping the troubled enchanter, even at the risk of a stiff punishment from Mrs Parcel. But the story takes on yet another twist: Abrican and Mallory have their first run-in with Scrupnor, who accuses Abrican of murdering the previous squire.

Besides Mallory, Abrican, Scrupnor, and Mrs Parcel, the story is filled with other vivid characters, like poor Mr Parcel, afraid to speak out when his wife is wrong, and Burdick, a meddling young man who captures Abrican when the wizard is in the form of a pig.

Between Abrican's many shape changes, and Mallory's difficulties with him and the town, this story keeps moving and stays engaging right to the end.

The Wizard In the Tree takes place in a regency type setting, a small town with guns, craftsmen, and coal.

From the strange beginning until the story's end, The Wizard In The Tree is full of surprises. Some revelations you'll surely see coming, but other twists will take you by surprise.

This reprint (the novel originally came out in 1975) features lovely illustrations by Lazlo Kubinyi, pencil drawings that capture the situations and characters quite well.

Lloyd Alexander's Chronicles of Prydain introduced me to fantasy novels when I was eleven, and I found with The Wizard in the Tree that I still enjoy his stories just as much. This is a fun book for young adults and those of us who simply enjoy good fairy tale.

Copyright © 1999 by Jonathan Fesmire

Jonathan Fesmire has travelled to France, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Ireland. He enjoys speaking French and learning bits of other foreign languages, but most of all, he loves writing, and has sold fiction to Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, SpaceWays Weekly, Jackhammer, and others.


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