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Wizard's Hall is a children's fantasy novel written by Jane Yolen, who also wrote The Pit Dragon Chronicles, The Devil's Arithmetic, and... well, a ton of other things, really. Wizard's Hall remains one of her better-known works, particularly for its resemblance to the Harry Potter series. However, it predates Potter by about 6 years.
Henry is a boy without many exceptional talents, or so he believes. However, his mother thinks he might have a talent for magic, so she ships him off to the Wizard's Hall to learn the ways of sorcery. There, he is given the name Thornmallow--"prickly on the outside, squishy within" and dumped into magical classes. Thornmallow proves to be as lacking in magical abilities as he is in other things--except for one odd excluded incident in which he causes an avalanche of snow in his classroom, with a single rose growing vibrantly in the center.
But Thornmallow does have a (smudgy) nose for trouble, and he's smart enough to notice that not all is right at Wizard's Hall. The Magisters seem to be frightened. The supposedly lush gardens of the Hall are dead as doornails. He and his friends--good-natured Willow, energetic Tansy, and impish Gorse--start to do research into the matter, and discover a prophecy: The evil wizard Nettle, and his horrible Patchwork Beast, are coming to claim Wizard's Hall, and only the 113th student can stop him. Thornmallow is that student. But he's a terrible wizard! What will become of Wizard's Hall?
This book contains examples of:
- Arc Number: 113.
- Bittersweet Ending: Thornmallow will never be a great wizard, and just being around wizards will cause him pain for a long time, because of Nettle's stings. But He Chooses To Stay anyway, because he wants to be with his friends and do what he can anyway.
- I Choose to Stay: Thornmallow has the opportunity to leave Wizard's Hall at the end, but decides to stay anyway.
- Eccentric Mentor
- Fisher King: In a variant, even though Nettle isn't actually in charge of Wizard's Hall, as long as he's out there, no plants grow in the Hall's garden.
- Five-Man Band:
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Nettle is eventually defeated because, even though Thornmallow is not a great mage, he can enhance a wizard's own magic and amplify it by insane amounts--so Thornmallow kills Nettle with Nettle's own magic.
- Meaningful Name: All wizards get them. They're usually plant-related.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Nobody can seem to get Thornmallow's name right.
- Non-Action Guy: Thornmallow.
- Nothing Is Scarier: Discussed. "Which is worse--seeing or not seeing?"
- Ship Tease: Between Tansy and Thornmallow. They hold hands a couple times, and Thorny finds her comforting.
- Tomboy: Gorse takes great pride in her prickly name and boyish attitude. She also likes grossing people out.
- The Unintelligible: Dr. Mo. "Squark!"
- Wake Up, Go to School, Save the World
- White-Haired Pretty Boy: Thornmallow has hair "as white as dandelion fluff," but he's a good-guy example. (He's also not that pretty... well, on the most common cover. He was downright Bishonen on one Apple cover.)
- Wizarding School
- Words Can Break My Bones: And blind you, and make you deaf, and make you wracked with endless pain...