Published by Greenwillow Books on January 31st 2012
Ayna could predict the future.
Cari could find what was lost.
Gair thought he was ordinary.
The three children of Gest, the chief of Garholt, know the perils of the Moor on which they live. The Dorig, their people's enemies, are cold-blooded, fierce underwater creatures who terrify anyone unlucky enough to happen upon them. The Giants are dangerous and violent.
But it's not until their home is invaded that Gair learns of a dying curse that endangers all three peoples of the Moor. A curse that ordinary Gair, with the help of his extraordinary brother and sister, may be able to break, but only at the most dreadful risk to all three, and to the Moor itself.
Power of Three by Diana Wynne Jones was first published in 1976. Power of Three is a wonderfully plotted and magical read.
The story opens with a murder. Two children, a young brother and sister, stray away from their home and come across a Dorig. The Dorig is wearing a beautiful gold collar which takes on great significance as Orban kills the Dorig out of pride and his sister, Adara, is forced to share his shameful secret. Before he dies the Dorig casts a curse on the collar, a curse which will bring bad luck to whoever possesses it. Years pass and the curse’s influence spreads throughout the Moor, like a disease. Only when the Old, Middle and New Powers are placated can the curse be broken.
This story spans several generations but centres on the children of Adara: Gair, Ayna and Ceri. Ayna and Ceri have special Gifts, from seeing the future to finding what is lost. In comparison Gair feels very ordinary. He is the quiet child who values solitude and whilst he doesn’t have the Gifts his siblings have, he uses his lack of Gifts as a reason to strive for wisdom, so he can be special in his own, useful way. However, even when he is considered one of the wisest people in the area, ‘he still knew he was ordinary’ (p.55). But, Jones writes, ‘no one else thought he was’. Everyone else can see that Gair is extraordinary, with or without a Gift. Much of the plot is about Gair learning this for himself.
A big thinking point in this story is point of view. The story is beautifully crafted. Each strand of the plot gradually clicks into place in a very satisfying way. The Dorigs, Giants and Lymen (the three inhabitants of the Moor) are more interrelated than anyone can comprehend at the start of the story. Every character has to learn something by thinking about and discovering other points of view.
Tensions exist on many levels, each tension needs to be resolved if the curse is to be broken. If the people of the Moor cannot learn to live together the only option is destruction. There is tension between the generations. Gest has trouble understanding his son, Gair, but Gair also struggles to understand his father. There is tension between the peoples of the Moor. Giants, Dorigs and Lymen each think of themselves as people. In contrast, they look at the others as too different to be relatable. They have to learn that the others are people too.
This is ultimately a book about understanding yourself and accepting each other for what they are. Power of Three is a delightfully crafted story that should appeal to anyone who loves fairy tales.