Buy from Amazon

Christopher Wrigley

Return of the Hero

The success of Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings and Philip Pullman's Dark Materials trilogy is something of a surprise. Even adult readers seem to prefer these books to more 'serious' literature. In 'Return of the Hero' Christopher Wrigley analyses why this should be the case, and looks at how the books relate to sexuality, religion and in particular the idea of an initiation rite. Now I feel one shouldn't take such analysis too seriously. If it is done in a negative way - implying that the critic has 'found out' the hidden faults of the work - then it usually becomes simply annoying. But Wrigley is writing as a fan of the books he is analysing, and does offer plenty of insightful comment on these three works.

I felt that Wrigley's analysis of the Harry Potter books was the most interesting part of this book. When looking at Pullman's work he seems to get rather bogged down in a parallel with Greek myth, although this chapter does improve at the end with a look at Pullman's attitude to religion. The main criticism I would have of 'Return of the Hero' is that it is too short. There are several negative comments about C.S. Lewis's Narnia books, and I feel that it would be interesting to have a chapter on why Wrigley thinks that these books fail while the others succeed. But most of all the book needs a concluding chapter to bring together the ideas raised in considering the different works.