In the second half of the third chapter of So You Want to Be a Wizard, everything was NICE and FINE and it was just an ADVENTURE and then it is NOT and it is TERRIFYING and it is ALL YOUR FAULT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For acrophobia (fear of heights)
I wasn’t ready. My whole body wasn’t ready.
Look, there are many things I enjoyed here, but let’s start with one awesome element of this chapter: magic can be random and frustrating. The worldgate does not shift to a place that is easily accessible. (Seriously, CrossingsCon, I do hope your tour of Manhattan does not take us out to the middle of the air just below the top of the MetLife Building.) No, it’s just in the middle of the air. Whether that was a purposeful orchestration or a completely random occurrence, it’s clear that magic makes people into problem-solvers. Every approach to magic we’ve seen is intentional, even when it comes to merely using the Speech to persuade an object or a thing into doing what you want.
So it’s even more rewarding to watch these two kids rise to the occasion, even when that requires them to do something I WOULD PROBABLY NOT DO UNLESS YOU PAID ME AN OBSCENE AMOUNT OF MONEY. I’m speaking especially of Nita, who sees an impossible problem and makes it completely possible, all with a smile on her face and eagerness in her heart. When she figures out where the worldgate might be, she suggests a solution without thinking, “Can I actually do this?”
“Are you suggesting that we walk out to the worldgate and–” He laughed. “How are we going to get up there?”
“There’s a helipad on top of the building,” Nita said. “They closed it down a long time ago after there was an accident, but the elevator still goes up to the old waiting room at the top. If we can get up there, we can get out to the gate.”
Nita thinks of the world in possibilities, and I adore it. Every time she is faced with a problem, she’s excited to find a way to solve it. That also includes asking Fred intereference, which means he burps up a BARREL CACTUS in the MetLife lobby. (This book is so delightfully weird, oh my god.) But I don’t want to ignore how important Kit is to all of this, too. I don’t know if there’s a way to measure proficiency in wizardry, but I get the sense that he’s a little further along than Nita is. Regardless, it’s his understanding of certain concepts that Nita’s just been introduced to that provides access to the roof of the MetLife Building. I was very excited to see a direct example of persuasive Speech. Here, Kit speaks to the lock in a way to appeal to its nature. Unused for probably years, he coaxes it to unlock by promising that it’ll be used again by him. THAT’S SUCH A COOL IDEA.
And it’s right about here that this book changes. In a good way, I’ll add, but STILL TERRIFYING. It’s not like there hadn’t been anything scary, and we certainly knew of the powerful possibilities of the world of wizardry, but this felt so much worse than the mystical dark creature they saw in the alternate Manhattan. Why?
BECAUSE THEY’RE ON A BRIDGE OF SOLIDIFIED AIR ABOVE MANHATTAN WHILE WOLF-LIKE PERYTONS CHARGE THEM. I’m guessing, then, that this was the noise that they heard outside before they got onto the roof. And it must have been what Nita saw out of the corner of her eye at one point, too. Where these creatures just waiting for someone to give them the means to cross over to the worldgate? What if they had no interest in this and instead were just waiting for some prey to wander by?
Oh, silly me. I’m not actually talking about the perytons, am I?
She got a first impression of grizzled coats, red tongues that lolled and slavered, fangs that gleamed in the sunlight, and she thought, Wolves!
But their eyes changed her mind as ten or twelve of the creatures loped across the roof toward the transparent walkway, giving tongue in an awful mindless cacophony of snarls and barks and shuddering howls. The eyes. People’s eyes, blue, brown, green, but with almost all the intelligence gone out of them, nothing left but a hot deadly cunning and an awful desire for the taste of blood–
From her reading in the wizards’ manual, she knew what they were: perytons. Wolves would have been way more preferable. Wolves were sociable creatures. These had been people once, people so used to hating that at the end of life they’d found a way to keep doing it, by hunting the souls of others through their nightmares.
GOODBYE, I WILL SEE YOU IN ANOTHER BOOK, I WANT NOTHING TO DO WITH THESE TERRORS. Okay, all jesting aside, I would have been frightened by these things all by themselves. But on a narrow bridge made out of the sky, seventy stories above the ground??? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS BOOK?
The original text contains use of the word “crazy.”
Diane Duane is still offering a massive discount on the first 9 books in the Young Wizards series just to this community, so please take advantage of this deal while you still can:
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– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
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