In the second chapter of Deep Wizardy, WHALE WIZARDS. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Let’s talk about commitment.
This is a bit of a repetition from what I spoke about during So You Want to Be a Wizard, but it’s been on a mind a lot for a few reason. I’ve seen a few posts drift by on Tumblr about the idea of commitment in a writer. (And, of course, now that I want to find them, they are completely impossible to locate.) I’ve read more books than I can count where the story goes to some dark, weird place, and then, at the last second, everything is reverted back to normal. It was all just a dream, or it was a vision, or everything happens perfectly to resolve the conflict so that people can turn out okay. (Ahem… cough cough Star Trek cough cough.) I get why it happens in episodic television, even though it can still frustrate me. I feel less kindly towards it in novels, and I even reworked the first draft in my novel to avoid doing something similar. I realized that if I was going to introduce a plot element that was strange and frightening and shocking, I had to stick with it.
I’m going to use this chapter as an example of how Duane takes a really weird idea, commits to it fully, and that makes for fantastic storytelling. Like the world of Dark Manhattan, the introduction of the world of wizardry in the ocean is so surreal, it’s almost hard to grasp without the context she provides. Yet at no point did I ever question the logic of what Duane was putting on the page. A spell that allows Nita and Kita to literally walk on water? Yeah, that makes total sense. Wizardry involves coaxing an element or a bit of matter or a living thing to do what you want, and as long as that thing is cool with it, then it’s possible.
Talking to dolphins? Already possible, given that they can speak to animals. Riding a dolphin to another wizard? Sure. I buy it. No, I love it. I love that Duane comes up with such exciting ways to give us exposition, especially since that scene never feels like an info-dump. It feels like A COUPLE OF TEENAGERS GETTING TO HITCH A RIDE ON A DOLPHIN. DO YOU REALIZE HOW FUCKING COOL THAT IS?
So when these wizards arrive to meet S’reee, I had to hand it to Duane. This is an unbelievable thing, because if you strip it of its context, saying that there is a whale who is also a wizard just sounds silly. Right? But when you’re reading this long scene, it never once feels silly. It feels right. If the entire world is comprised of wizardry – if this magic is in literally everything – then it stands to reason that different parts of the world would be guarded by wizards who weren’t human. How could humans possibly help out with worldgates at the bottom of the ocean? What of all the creatures who live in the dark depths? (Are we gonna meet some of them? THEY’RE TERRIFYING.)
Again, as I’ve mentioned before, these fantastical elements are brilliantly grounded within the real world. A lot of fantasy novels tend to separate their worlds (especially in urban fantasy) rigidly, and while that certainly works, I am so satisfied that Duane does it in such a different way. Yes, you’ve still got the whole “magical world overlaid on our own,” but I think that does a disservice in describing what’s happening here. When Nita and Kit meet S’reee, they don’t face a complicated wizarding issue. No, S’reee the whale was severely harmed by AN EXPLODING HARPOON. Human hunters – who most likely have not a clue about wizardry – are responsible for part of the damage, and then sharks provided the rest. This is what I mean about separation of worlds. It’s all so deeply integrated that Duane avoids feeling typical for fantasy.
On top of all this, the writing is just so good. I love the way that Duane describes magic. It’s visceral, painful, so very real. It’s part of these characters bodies and souls, not some extraneous force that they grab on to. Nita’s healing makes her vulnerable in numerous ways. Another wizard can swoop in to take advantage of her, or an outside party can. When she gives Kit her power so he can freeze the sharks, it also leaves her practically powerless for a moment, too. Yet nothing was scarier than the fact that Nita had to LIVE THROUGH S’REEE’S PAIN IN ORDER TO HEAL HER. WHAT THE HELL.
All of this leads to the second sign that something terrible is happening in the ocean. First, the rocks, and now? S’reee’s fellow whale partner, Ae’mhnuu, died while trying to complete a complicated wizardry:
“But with Ae’mhnuu gone, I’m stuck with it! And we’re in trouble, the water people and land people both, if we don’t finish what Ae’mhnuu was starting when he died!”
There’s a neat callback to the previous book when S’reee laments being so young and getting stuck with such a huge problem. So I like the idea that after succeeding with their own ideal, Kit and Nita now get to help a fellow cousin with a problem. COUSINS. NOW I GET WHY I KEEP SEEING THAT WORD ALL THE TIME. And Dai stihó! I AM UNDERSTANDING THINGS, Y’ALL.
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:
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
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