Diana Wynne Jones Margery Fisher - Essay

Margery Fisher

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Good and evil are in opposition on a cosmic and a local scale at the same time in The Homeward Bounders. The extraordinary power of this narrative is the result of strong feeling combined with brilliant technique. The author does not lay down her theme or her plot bluntly but allows the shape and point of the story to come to the reader clue by clue, as events are suffered, and assessed, by the victims of 'Them' and most of all by young Jamie, central among the Homeward Bounders. The idea that 'They' are playing an enormous, multi-part war-game with whole worlds is chillingly real because of Jamie's words and actions, as he slowly realises the penalties of being a random piece on the board, gathering information from the people he meets—dark, enigmatic Helen and the acquiescent slave Joris among them—and using intellect and emotion in judging the enemy's weakness and deciding on his special duty for the future. At times Jamie seems, simply, the questing, questioning spirit of Man, and this is confirmed by his bitterly real dealings with the Promethean sufferer who encourages his independence of mind: at other times he is a boy driven by gigantic, inexplicable forces. This is not a book that could have an 'ending' as such, but it has a conclusion, and one that sums up the elusive hints and emotional tides of a book precise and perceptive in details and immensely powerful as a whole. (p. 3882)

Margery Fisher, "Ventures in Magic," in her Growing Point, Vol. 20, No. 1, May, 1981, pp. 3880-83.∗