Caragh O’ Brien – Birthmarked Series (Birthmarked, Prized, Promised)
Like these novels, The Infinite Games series takes place in an invented world where young heroes battle against an ecologically destructive dystopia. The plots of The Road to Beaver Mill and The Battle for the Black Fen are less fantastic than O’Brien’s, being organized on realistic economic trends. The dystopia both series confront is similarly sexist.
Melinda Marchetta The Lumatere Chronicles (Quintana at Charyn, Froi of the Exiles, Franklin of the Rock)
As in The Battle for the Black Fen, Marchetta’s young heroes must build an army to take on their enemies. In the Infinite Games series the setting is real world rather than fantasy, and the details of daily life more down to earth and practical.
In that the Infinite Games novels are based on history, they resemble Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon or T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, where elements of Celtic history undergird the invented world. More recent comparables would be Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters series (Daughter of the Forest, Son of the Shadows, Child of the Prophesy) or Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series (Outlander, Dragonfly in Amber). In both series, the action takes place in a re-imagined world of Scottish intrigues and battles.
Readers who enjoy J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series will enjoy the Infinite Games series for its green world landscapes and for the adventures of an easy-going folk threatened by terrifying opponents. The Infinite Games adapts Tolkien’s plotting technique of alternating catastrophe with eucatastrophe to embed vision in action, but rather than depend upon a metaphysical dialectic between transcendent good and demonic evil, the vision derives from earth-centered spirituality. The Infinite Games novels are adventure quests of ordinary people of the early modern era who struggle against economic forces parallel to the evils challenging community formation and the environment in the twenty-first century.
Jean Auel’s The Clan of the Cave Bear and its sequels is perhaps closest to the world of the Infinite Games series in that it is a real world fantasy speculating about prehistoric events. Like Auel’s young heroes, Clare, William and Bethanyhave to find their place upon a cusp between one way of life and another.
In 1983, the Guardian selected Graham Swift’s Waterland, based in the Fens, as the best novel of the year in England. It was also nominated for the Booker Prize. Swift uses the Fens as an emblem of nothingness inhabited by characters alienated from nature. Pratt’s characters, who revere every aspect of their beloved Marshlands and who value harmony with nature, are entirely different.