0

When I tried to read Harry Potter many years ago I got very disappointed after finding to many similar elements from one of my favorite books Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Some of those elements:

  1. A young and chosen-one like magician: Ged --> Harry

  2. A school of magic for kids: Roke --> Hogwarts

  3. The rival young magician: Jasper --> Draco Malfoy

  4. Roke is in an island that is protected by magic and can't be reached or seen unless you are allowed to do that --> In Harry Potter the same happens with Hogwarts.

  5. In The Wizard of Earthsea it is mentioned that Roke is the most secure place in the world --> The same is stated in Harry Potter for Hogwarts.

  6. Ged's mother died before he was a year old --> Harry's parents died when he was a baby (of course in a more tragical way)

  7. Ged's father was very grim with him so he grew wild --> As Harry's uncle family

  8. The Archmage Nemmerle is the protector and maximum authority of Roke, named the Warder of Roke and older than any man living then, he has a pet raven --> Dumbledore the most powerful of his time, head and protector of Howarts, very old who has a phoenix as pet.

  9. The environment in both schools seems to be very similar, groups of kids taking classes with different wizards, mages, etc.

  10. In the school Ged inspires admiration and envy because his skills and rumors say he will be Archmage one day --> Harry Potter inspires admiration and envy for the same reasons + the prophecy.

And many others that I may be adding later.

Of course both works are not exactly equal, being the personality of the main character the most apparent difference. One is arrogant and fearless while the other is shy and conservative in some sense.

In my opinion Harry Potter has nothing to don in terms of technique, the Ged's saga is lot more interesting and detailed. Maybe not as commercial as HP but that is what makes it better in my opinion.

closed as primarily opinion-based by TGnat, John O, Eureka, alexwlchan, WOPR Feb 3 '14 at 6:47

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 11
    This purpose of your question seems to be to solicit opinion-based feedback. Stack Exchange actively discourages opinion-based questions. You have listed tropes that are neither trademarked nor copyrighted by any author. They are all common fantasy tropes; the inclusion of any of them in a series is not indicative of plagiarism. I don't think you need to add any more examples, but YMMV of course. I'm sorry, but I've voted to close this question as primarily opinion based. – Slytherincess Feb 2 '14 at 6:53
  • 8
    In addition to what Slytherincess said about tropes, simply starting with "magic school" begets several of these almost automatically, in a path-of-least-resistance sort of way. Same with "the main character is important"... – Izkata Feb 2 '14 at 7:14
  • 1
    @Izkata - Precisely this; tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WizardingSchool – Valorum Feb 2 '14 at 10:50
  • 1
    See also a similar question a while back, about Harry Potter vs. Lord of the Rings. It's all in the tropes. scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/12043/… – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Feb 2 '14 at 11:04
  • 1
    @MeatTrademark - Also, I doubt you'll find any compelling evidence that HP is "plagiarised" from EarthSea. The lack of legal action should be sufficient to prove that. – Valorum Feb 2 '14 at 18:51
10

While there are certainly many similarities between the two works, both of a similar genre, they are (as many stated in the comments) due mostly to common tropes, rather than to plagiarism. Let's go over your points one by one:

  1. The Chosen One. A very common trope, far from being unique to these two books, and quite older than both.

  2. Likewise for the Wizarding School trope. It's true that A Wizard of Earthsea is one of the earlier examples of the trope, but the 30-odd years and dozens of specimens in between pretty much rule out plagiarism.

  3. The Rival is a trope as old as time, not only in fantasy. The foil is a device used to highlight certain qualities in the protagonist by contrasting them with a rival.

  4. Well, except that Hogwarts isn't really an island. Also, see #5.

  5. This is a subset of #2, I think. Schools are generally prized for keeping their students safe, especially boarding-schools where the children live. I don't recall this being a central tenet of either book, and indeed, Hogwarts isn't a particularly safe place for Harry, pretty much from Day One.

  6. The Missing Mother is another very common trope in film and literature. You can find it in Tolkien (predating Le Guin) and in Jordan (predating Rowling) and in dozens of other places.

  7. Ged's father is a classic Fantasy-Forbidding Father, a slightly less common trope, but still nothing too surprising in his wishes to keep Ged down-to-earth. However, the Dursleys aren't really like that - their relationship with Harry is far more abusive.

  8. A wizarding school will have a wizard headmaster. There aren't too many non-superficial similarities between Dumbledore and Nemmerle apart from being the wizard headmaster and taking a liking to the protagonist. And a raven is nothing like a phoenix, which doesn't really behave as a pet or familiar to Dumbledore, anyway.

  9. Again, this is a subset of #2 - it's a wizarding school, so there are wizarding classes with wizarding tutors. I don't see this as a necessarily linked. Again, this is similar to the tropes used in other boarding-school stories, like Harper Hall in Anne McCaffrey's Pern novels, and others.

  10. Similar to #1, the protagonist will often be a powerful, successful, popular or influential character. Of course, Harry Potter isn't really all that - he's an average student mostly caught in the expectations from him and the story of his parents' death. Again, variations on a common trope, but hardly identical or plagiarized.

This little list of mine comes to illustrate that the issue here isn't with the actual points of similarity between the two series, which are quite common with other works. See this question, for instance, asking about similarities with Lord of the Rings. When cherry-picking the shared elements, you can make almost any two fantasy novels seem copied from one another, especially if they're strong trope codifiers that influence the genre as a whole. As an exercise, try to make a list like this for a different series you liked. Or go to the TVTropes page for that series and look at the list of tropes listed there - some major, some minor - and you'll be surprised at how many of them are shared. That's what TVTropes is for - finding those common elements shared by many works. Not plagiarized, but together comprising a shared genre.

  • #5 I don't recall this being a central tenet of either book - It's the reason the Stone was moved in the first Harry Potter book, else the plot would not have been possible – Izkata Feb 2 '14 at 21:29
  • And there are also vicious centaurs in the forest, the whomping willow, assorted Quiddich injuries, and all sorts of seemingly accepted dangers that really cast doubt on that claim. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Feb 2 '14 at 21:34
  • It will be interesting if a new book tells the story of a teen wizard that goes to a school of magic called Rokwarts and fights the evil with help of friends and professors. A million of HP fans will come and complain about it being a copy and I won't blame them, it's completely valid. W I tried to express is my feeling when found all these so similar elements from one of my favorite books in a new commercial work. My question is about opinion from people that had read both books. Hopefully all of you read Earthsea and are not just trying to defend HP without knowing Ursula k. Le Guin's work – raspacorp Feb 3 '14 at 5:34
  • 3
    Yes, I have read them (at least the first trilogy, never actually bothered with the later works). I thought they were excellent (well, The Farthest Shore was extremely depressing, but still). But just like the similarities between HP and LotR - they exist, but are superficial, or too basic, or based on shared tropes. You can make such a list with many other fantasy novels. – Avner Shahar-Kashtan Feb 3 '14 at 5:45
  • 3
    @raspacorp "I tried to express is my feeling when found all these so similar elements from one of my favorite books in a new commercial work. My question is about opinion...." This is exactly why your "question" is not appropriate here. This is not to say that your opinion is not valid, but that this is not an acceptable forum for soliciting opinions or advocating interpretations or championing viewpoints. – Matt Feb 3 '14 at 15:48

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.