I see the Young Wizards books turning up on a lot of “If You Like Harry Potter…” lists these days — hundreds of them, scattered all over the US and Canada (and some elsewhere in the English-speaking world). But this is the first time I’ve seen one of these:
This, I guess, bemuses me even more. Generally speaking — to my eye, at least — in a strictly thematic sense, the YW books have even less in common with Narnia than the “Harry Potter” books do. There’s not even the common thread of “kids learning wizardry and having adventures”: the similarity is more like “kids having magical adventures in another world.” And sometimes, even that would be stretching it.
…Yet at the same time, there’s no denying that the YW books are somewhat haunted by C. S. Lewis’s influence, from Narnia (where I first met him) onwards. It’d be fibbing to claim that Perelandra wasn’t on my mind when I was writing High Wizardry, or that Out of the Silent Planet isn’t very much on my mind (or at least loitering in the background) while I finish work on A Wizard of Mars. Lewis has been my mentor-at-one-remove for many years…so I don’t mind being on this list, really. It’s honorable company to be in: extremely good company — and not just Lewis’s, either.
Still…one walks very softly when coming along behind the great Lion. But in a case like this, bringing up the rear isn’t such a terrible place to be.