A boy, son of the chief of a clan living in a mound on an English moor of uncertain date, beginning to get his growth, and terribly full of himself, finds and kills his counterpart from an enemy tribe of water dwellers in order to steal the ornate golden torc from around his neck. Along with the torc he receives his enemy’s dying curse. His little sister is with him, and indeed inadvertently made it possible for him to find his enemy; and she resolves to undo the curse…and therein hangs the tale.
Well, sort of.
Power of Three is one of Diana Wynne Jones’ more straightforward fantasy novels, neither as fraught with meaning and symbolism as Fire and Hemlock nor as goofy as Archer’s Goon. Some people like it very much; when Julie Davis devoted an episode of her Forgotten Classics podcast to Diana Wynne Jones, this was one or her choices.
I found it an entertaining read, given that I like Diana Wynne Jones’ style; but I wouldn’t put it among my favorites. It starts out well, but later there’s an interaction between the world of the People and their enemies and our own that I found extremely jarring. It was like discovering that the Clan of the Cave Bear took place in a corner of Central Park, and that nobody found it at all odd.
If you’re a fan of Diana Wynne Jones you’ll want to read this; and if you’re not yet a fan but have any kind of interest in Young Adult fantasy, then start with Archer’s Goon and the Chrestomanci books.