At the Back of the North Wind by George MacDonald

Two rings surrounding a person on a purple background.  Two open white pages on an orange background.  A black background with a white W.  A black background with a white symbol, that has a black play symbol in the middle.  A black background with a white tentacled cat.

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At the Back of the North Wind is a fantasy children’s book by George MacDonald, the father of modern fantasy literature. Like many books, it was first serialized before being published (meaning that chapters appeared in magazines or papers or similar print material for months before they were collectively edited together as a book).

The main character is a young, kind boy named Diamond. One night, Diamond encounters the North Wind, a eucatastrophizing figure before Tolkien coined the term in On Fairy-Stories, his seminal essay on the fairy-story as a literary form. The North Wind takes Diamond on her adventures, where Diamond sees her do great and terrible deeds – but even the bad lead to good. Theodicy – the search for the answer to why a good God permits evil – is a central topic of the story. Some consider the book to be MacDonald’s masterpiece.

MacDonald is an important, although seemingly forgotten, figure in fantasy literature. He was a minister first, but after his sermons were ill-received and his salary cut, he switched to writing. He published other influential works like Phantastes and The Princess and the Goblin, all of which culminated in an exalted reputation.

“I write, not for children but for the child-like, whether they be of five, or fifty, or seventy-five.” – George MacDonald

J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and Lewis Carroll all cited him as an inspiration (and in Carroll’s case, a friend; he helped Carroll publish his own masterpiece, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.)

If you’d like hard copies, you can get a paperback version here and a hardcover version here. Or maybe you like radio theater? If so, we’ve got you covered.