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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!
This book may have been conceptualised as a Harry Potter spinoff, but it scores way beyond HP as far as I'm concerned. I expected completely different stories along the lines of Cat Fantastic (which would also have been nice) and was pleasantly surprised to see common characters reappearing in different stories.
Like HP, the stories are set in 'the present', the...
Published on November 3, 2003 by Shimmertje

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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's just like Harry Potter, but it's not. Really!! Kind of
"Gee, this sounds just like Harry Potter." That was my first thought when I picked up The Sorcerer's Academy, a collection of short stories edited by Denise Little. Indeed, in the introduction, Little brings up that very point, though she mentions that there has been a long line of "learning to be a wizard" books even before our bespectacled friend...
Published on January 23, 2004 by David Roy


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I loved it!, November 3, 2003
By 
This review is from: The Sorcerer's Academy (Mass Market Paperback)
This book may have been conceptualised as a Harry Potter spinoff, but it scores way beyond HP as far as I'm concerned. I expected completely different stories along the lines of Cat Fantastic (which would also have been nice) and was pleasantly surprised to see common characters reappearing in different stories.
Like HP, the stories are set in 'the present', the heroes and heroines are in their early teens, and magic exists. Unlike HP though there seemed more exploration of teen issues and scrapes that teens could quite conceivably get into, all with a magical twist.
My all-out favourite was the story by Michelle West. It seemed deeper and darker than the rest, was written almost as if in a dream, and had a satisfying ending. I was disappointed that Anna didn't appear in other stories as I would have loved to find out more about her. Most of the stories were above average (kudos to Denise Little) though I didn't like the one by Robert Sheckley so much. It seemed more run-of-the-mill in contrast, removing the students completely from the school context.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's just like Harry Potter, but it's not. Really!! Kind of, January 23, 2004
By 
David Roy (Vancouver, BC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sorcerer's Academy (Mass Market Paperback)
"Gee, this sounds just like Harry Potter." That was my first thought when I picked up The Sorcerer's Academy, a collection of short stories edited by Denise Little. Indeed, in the introduction, Little brings up that very point, though she mentions that there has been a long line of "learning to be a wizard" books even before our bespectacled friend came about. Little acknowledges that Harry Potter is popular and decided she wanted to see what an American wizardry school would be like. Thus, she came up with the concept of an Academy in the desert of Arizona, near Sedona. She also brought a bunch of friends along for the ride. The result is a series of stories that are hit or miss (as many anthologies are). Thankfully, there are more near misses than there are stories wide of the mark.
Little has gathered an impressive array of mid-list fantasy and science fiction authors to contribute stories. The book starts with a story by Josepha Sherman, introducing the concept of the school and the three main students of the Academy for Advanced Study (or, as the students call it, Sorcerer's U): Barry Silverhorse, Janice Redding, and Matt Johnson. They have a small adventure as they are trying to get to the Academy for the first time, but it's pretty inconsequential. It does set up a plot thread that sounds like it's supposed to run through (or at least in the background of) the rest of the stories, but it never really comes up again until the "final exam" piece by Sherman that ends the book. It does a good job of introducing us to the three students, though, as Sherman does an impressive job of characterization.
While the beginning isn't the most impressive, the last story (Sherman's "Final Exam" is only one page, so I'm not including it in the count) is a standout story. Written by Von Jocks, "Parenthetical References" starts out with an English class all receiving very low marks on a research paper (not exactly the most exciting idea for a story). It turns into a wonderful character piece starring Cassi, a girl who doesn't talk (it's unclear until the ending whether or not she can but won't talk, or if she is incapable). She feels ostracized by the other students and she is having trouble fitting in, but she's included in a study group to help improve their papers. She finds out the true meaning of friendship <b>and</b> magic during their studies. She's initially unsure if they are just accepting her as a burden to their study group or if they are truly interested in being her friend, and snide remarks from other girls in the class don't help. It's a wondrous revelation when she truly does become part of the group, as well as when we find out exactly what the secret is behind her silence. It's a perfect capstone for the book and should have ended it rather than "Final Exam."
Other good stories include P.N. Elrod's "Dream Date," where a student discovers that the subject of her wildest fantasies (both love and musical) is secretly staying at the Academy for some mysterious reason, but is he as squeaky-clean as his image? "License to Steal" by Mel Odom is an excellent story of an outsider (a young thief in Sedona) who gets coerced into trying to steal something from the Academy and finds out that he may just have a home there. The characterization of the boy is wonderful, though the villains are a bit clichéd. There are no particularly bad stories in the book, though a few are just forgettable. In fact, looking through the book to write this review, I didn't even remember reading "Sleepwork," though I did remember bits and pieces of it so I know I did read it.
There are two main problems with The Sorcerer's Academy. First, and more minor, there are some continuity issues between the stories, mainly having to do with rules. Students spend some time in the first few stories traipsing around Sedona, but then in "Freshmen Mixer," we're told that students cannot leave the Academy grounds unaccompanied their first semester. That rule is mentioned in another story, but subsequent stories also have them leaving campus occasionally. Another continuity issue is that one story establishes that computers are housed in a special building that's protected because magic can have a bad side effect on them. Later, there's a reference to Janice having a laptop in her room. Little details like this added up and marred my enjoyment of the book.
Secondly, though, The Sorcerer's Academy didn't do enough to shy away from the whole Harry Potter idea. The fact that the main three characters are two boys and a girl, and the girl is the most studious of the bunch, gets too close for comfort. That in itself would not have been a problem, except that these three are obviously the main characters, even when the stories don't always concern them. Even the stories that have a different main character include at least one of these three as a "friend" of the main character (something that Robert Sheckly thankfully avoids with "A Salty Situation"). There are far too many stories that are just about them, as well. It also didn't help that at least two stories made direct Harry Potter references (one had a student say "I don't want to be Harry Potter!" and another mentions the increase of movies showing magic in a good light recently).
All in all, this was an enjoyable anthology that doesn't do enough to distance itself from its forebears. The stories are quick reads and I am glad I read them, but most of them fall just short of being great. The attempt to tie the stories into some overarching story and theme doesn't really work, but if you can ignore that, you can enjoy the stories for what they are.
David Roy
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Merely "OK", January 19, 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Sorcerer's Academy (Mass Market Paperback)
This "shared world" type collection of short stories set at a school for young wizards in Sedona, Arizona, was only mildly amusing. While some of characters were interesting, the individual stories were too similar. On the other hand, I found myself wishing that some of the authors involved had not bothered with this collection, and instead would have written stand-alone books. This is fine if you are looking for something inoffensive to read, but there are better books out there.
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great anthology, September 2, 2003
This review is from: The Sorcerer's Academy (Mass Market Paperback)
The first reaction to a fifteen-story sorcerer's academy would be Potter lite. However, the contributors to THE SORCERER'S ACADEMY spin a series of tales intercalated by the locale and by the magic that makes a reader finish in one sitting the entire collection. The stories are fun as apprentice sorcerers and wannabe Gandolfs obtain an education in the use of the arcane powers. Fans of the Potter books will realize that this is a well-done Americanized Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry. The reader will want to head past Phoenix to Sedona to audit Sorcery 101, remedial sorcery, and advanced sorcery courses. Attend the labs and the lectures of noted Professors like Edwards, but study hard for that final exam as even college grads will not have seen the likes of it and beware of being the teacher's pet or class clown in these environs.
Harriet Klausner
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3 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Juast bad!, May 6, 2004
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"stinksap" (Alberta Canada) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Sorcerer's Academy (Mass Market Paperback)
This book is one of the worst I have ever read. Most of the stories are poorly written and make little sense. Every now and then an author throws in a cheep reference to Harry Potter or Tolkien and that is as good as it gets.
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The Sorcerer's Academy
The Sorcerer's Academy by Laura Anne Gilman (Mass Market Paperback - September 2, 2003)
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