Wjzard Norland is the official wizard to the King of High Norland. At the very beginning of The House of Many Ways, he has arranged to go off with some elves, who will apparently be able to treat a mysterious illness that has almost incapacitated him.
The wizard is fairly elderly, and very learned. He lives in an unusual house, which itself is almost a character in the novel.
Wizard Norland is a close friend of the King and his daughter, and they have had a hand in arranging his medical treatment, but the person who arranges to have the house taken care of is his niece Sempronia, who decrees that her husband's relatives have a teenage daughter who will do the trick.
Sempronia descends on the home of Charmain Baker to share this news. Without really knowing what the whole experience will be like, Charmain decides that it will give her more uninterrupted reading time, which is the only thing she's interested in.
The wizard very kindly sets up a set of spells that will trigger his disembodied voice whenever a relevant question is asked out loud. This voice will tell how to do various things and find various places.
The Wizard's HouseEdit
Charmain discovers that the house is very odd. From the outside, it looks like a tiny nondescript cottage. Inside it appears to have only two rooms -- the living room and a kitchen. There is only one door between the two of them, and no obvious way to get anywhere else.
When the disembodied wizardly voice is first summoned, it tells Charmain how to make the right kind of turn at the door to enable her to get to new locations. She finds a long hallway full of bedrooms and one very nice large bathroom. She later (somewhat accidentally) finds other rooms and locations, including the wizard's library, a large Conference Room, various mysterious hallways, and even a shortcut to the royal Palace.
Also in the yard of the house is a washhouse, a clothes drying line, and a way to get to the high meadows, which are full of beautiful wildflowers.
The Elves and the Kobolds, not to mention the LubbockEdit
In the wizard's house, Charmain meets several small blue gnomelike creatures. One of them takes care of the gardens, and one is the king of their tribe, called the Kobolds. They are all angry with wizard Norland for some reason, especially the garden gnome. Charmain learns that their feud has resulted in there being no running water in the kitchen, which is very annoying.
Later Charmain meets some of the Elves -- tall, thin, solemn-looking creatures who leave her a container of magical items that turn out to represent a frightening problem she has to solve.
She also meets the Lubbock who is extremely unpleasant and purple. However, it's a good thing that she does, since meeting the creature prepares her for a great many challenges that still await her.