Jonathan Stroud, Ursula K Leguin, and Gandalf

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Ursula K Leguin says in an afterword to “A Wizard of Earthsea” that her starting point was to wonder what wizards like Gandalf–or Merlin, or Dumbledore though he came later–were like as young men. Brimming with power, destined for greatness. What would that do to them?

Well, they’d be proud for one. Unable to handle those who cannot recognize their genius. Incapable of explaining why they wanted power, simply seeking it without thought to consequence or need. And, at the last, learning to recognize what is truly important in life. Noticing the little things–happiness, death, love.

Ursula LeGuin was the first to tell that story, but not the last. JK Rowling delved into it in her final Harry Potter book. But perhaps the person who told that story best was Jonathan Stroud–who not only told it, but did not flinch away from the truth of his characters, his story, and the inevitable conclusion.

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