Willow’s World is a series that explores the fantasy realm first depicted in Lucasfilm’s 1988 adventure, Willow. From its diverse peoples and ranging landscapes to unusual creatures and mystical powers, the world of Willow Ufgood and his companions is a complex mixture of light, dark, and the bond between all living things.
At the beginning of his perilous adventure, Willow Ufgood can do little more than perform feats of trickery and stage magic, like when he attempts to make a piglet disappear at the Nelwyns’ festival. But the cleverness and sleight of hand involved in these antics ultimately influence his development as a genuine sorcerer.
Early in the story, the wealthy Burglekutt seems to take every opportunity to deride Willow. Arriving at the latter’s farm, the pugnacious Nelwyn questions where Willow acquired the seed for his crop. “Maybe I used magic,” the wily farmer responds. “You’re no sorcerer, Ufgood. You’re a clown!” says Burglekutt. Perhaps in this moment, Willow intends to do little more than deceive his antagonist, but the claim hints at much deeper aspirations.
In the novelization of Willow by Wayland Drew, the fairy spirit Cherlindrea speaks to the movie’s namesake about earlier times when others dreamed of wielding magical powers. “Often they began as mere tricksters, performers of magic acts for their friends,” she tells him. “They crafted many devices—hollow feathers, hanging sleeves, hidden pockets. Some aspired to rise above these things and touch the infinite power of the Great Mystery; they longed to become true sorcerers. Only a very few achieved this end.”
To be a sorcerer in Willow’s world is to connect with a power that seemingly binds all things together. “Magic is the bloodstream of the universe,” says the High Aldwin, spiritual leader of the Nelwyn village. Willow aspires to be his next apprentice, but initially fails to pass an all-too simple test. The High Aldwin holds out his hand to the group of would-be students. “The power to control the universe lies in which finger?” he asks. One by one, the Nelwyns choose a finger on the Aldwin’s hand, Willow last among them. “No apprentice this year!” the disappointed sage declares.
Later, after Willow reveals his family’s discovery of the baby Elora Danan, the High Aldwin questions the farmer about his initial choice of finger. Willow admits his first thought had been to choose his own—the correct choice, as the Aldwin affirms. “Forget all you know, or think you know, all that you require is your intuition,” he says.