The whole concept seems eerily similar... a young child, groomed to be the main hope to win a war, with no adult support, and deceived about the main point of the struggle. This seems to go well beyond merely common tropes.

A young kid growing up in an oppressive family situation suddenly learns that he is one of a special class of children with special abilities, who are to be educated in a remote training facility where student life is dominated by an intense game played by teams flying in midair, at which this kid turns out to be exceptionally talented and a natural leader. He trains other kids in unauthorized extra sessions, which enrages his enemies, who attack him with the intention of killing him; but he is protected by his loyal, brilliant friends and gains strength from the love of some of his family members. He is given special guidance by an older man of legendary accomplishments who previously kept the enemy at bay. He goes on to become the crucial figure in a struggle against an unseen enemy who threatens the whole world. (Uncle Orson Reviews Everything, April 20, 2008 "Rowling, Lexicon, and Oz". Please note that - to be clear - Card himself was NOT asking JKR to acknowledge the influence, the topic of the piece was Rowling's lawsuits about Lexicon and he merely used this similarity as an argument that Rowling wasn't in the right about Lexicon)

Harry himself comments on the key similarity of letting him mature and struggle independently, on his own:

'No, it isn't,' said Harry thoughtfully. 'He's a funny man, Dumbledore. I think he sort of wanted to give me a chance. I think he knows more or less everything that goes on here, you know. I reckon he had a pretty good idea we were going to try, and instead of stopping us, he just taught us enough to help. I don't think it was an accident he let me find out how the Mirror worked. It's almost like he thought I had the right to face Voldemort if I could...' (P.S.)

Did JKR ever comment on whether she was in any way influenced by Orson Scott Card's "Ender's Game"?

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    There are only about 1000,000,000 novels with the structure you describe.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 12:38
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    @bmargulies - I suspect the number you were looking to describe is "a gazillion"...
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 14:29
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    @bmargulies - really? including ALL of the listed elements? Feel free to list 10. Commented Dec 26, 2014 at 14:46
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    Although Dumbledore didn't tell him everything, I don't think he was "deceived about the main point of the struggle" to nearly the same extent about Ender (he wasn't tricked into confronting Voldemort, for example).
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Mar 8, 2016 at 19:28
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    @crobar - that's a negative. Conner wasn't decieved about larger picture NOR forced into bad family situation. Skywalker same - outside of Vader's identity he knew what was what, and lived a pretty good if dull life. I'm ashamed to admit I never read Matilad or Oliver Twist but didn't they NOT fit "chosen child who has to save everyone"? X-men were rarely deliberately put into bad situation growing up on purpose, it was just a side effect of being a mutant in a world disliking "other"; and again no deception. I don't know ANYTHING about Dahl so can't answer for that one, nothing else fits. Commented Jan 29, 2023 at 4:45

1 Answer 1



JKR has been especially careful over the years not to mention any "key influences", mostly sticking to the argument that her work is a work of new fiction, entirely divorced from others.

"The question you are most frequently asked as an author is: "Where do you get your ideas from?" I find it very frustrating because, speaking personally, I haven't got the faintest idea where my ideas come from, or how my imagination works. I'm just grateful that it does, because it gives me more entertainment than it gives anyone else."

The closest she's come is listing various authors and books that she has enjoyed. Orson Scott Card/Ender's Game was not on that list.

She also said that...

""Can't be bothered with" isn't a phrase I'd use, because my reading tastes are pretty catholic. I don't read "chick lit," fantasy or science fiction but I'll give any book a chance if it's lying there and I've got half an hour to kill."

Obviously this doesn't preclude her from having read it, but she's not admitting to it.

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    Harry Potter is a very conventionally structured "hero's quest" story of a sort that was told at least as long ago as the Ancient Greeks. Seemingly ordinary boy finds out he is the chosen one, meets some companions including a wise mentor, the mentor dies and things look bad for the boy but eventually he triumphs. If JKR is claiming to have invented this, we'll that's pretty bold.
    – Gaius
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 14:08
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    Replace magic wand with lightsaber and you've got Star Wars.
    – Gaius
    Commented Nov 1, 2015 at 14:09
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    Replace Star Wars with Inheritance Cycle and you've got Lord of the Rings.
    – iMerchant
    Commented Jul 1, 2016 at 2:00

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