Saturday, August 01, 2009

Gandalf v Dumbledore: who is the greatest wizard of all?
Gandalf and Dumbledore may have legions of fans behind them, but the time has come to decide who wields the most power under their pointy hat

Posted by Damien G Walter Friday 31 July 2009

Magic showdown ... Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings - The Fellowship of the Ring and Michael Gambon as Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Photograph: Warner Bros

Are you sitting comfortably? Then let us begin. Once upon a time, there was a kindly old wizard whose only concerns were pipe weed, hobbits and a gold ring that caused all kinds of trouble. Gandalf (for so the wizard was named) lived happy in the knowledge that he was the greatest wizard of them all. Until, one day, an obscure conjurer who ekes out a living as headteacher of a remote public school found international stardom when a former pupil made it big in Hollywood. And so it came to pass that Albus Dumbledore was hailed by a new generation as the greatest wizard of them all. But which was truly the greatest? Time to put them to the test.
Round one:Magic is a slippery fish at the best of times, so when it comes to wizardry duels, it's vital to agree the ground rules before you cross wands. For the purposes of this match we will turn to the 20th century's most widely acclaimed codex of magical knowledge - The Complete Wizard's Handbook, Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition. Unfortunately for Gandalf fans, the grey one comes off rather badly by these criteria, barely managing to scrape Level Five magic user with his pitiful deployment of flare spells and the minor illusion employed at the Ford of Bruinen. By contrast, Dumbledore fields an array of impressive spellcraft that sees his AD&D level reach the high double figures. Well done, old chap!
Gandalf 0 – Dumbledore 1

Round two:But in showdowns between fictional wizards, actual magical skill is among the least important criteria. Much more significant in the minds of most readers is the power of the myths from which each character draws their power. In this myth-off, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings fields a clear advantage. Middle Earth is a fully realised secondary universe complete with multiple languages and rooted in the Norse mythic tradition, as well as being a deeply meaningful metaphor for the eternal conflict between good and evil. By contrast, the Potter verse is a ragtag collection of magical tropes and cliches, reheated with nonsensical names (Quidditch? I ask you) that manages, at best, good versus evil tile.
Gandalf 1 - Dumbledore 1
Visit Damien's blog for the outcome and to have your say....

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