Mark Reads ‘High Wizardry’: Chapter 5

In the fifth chapter of High Wizardry, Kit and Nita begin their search for Dairine. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards. 

Each Young Wizards book has taken me to an incredibly strange place, and I am so perfectly okay with that. Yet as bizarre and absurd as each of these stories has been, what I appreciate most about these books is that they’re all grounded in this very real group of friends and family. Let everything be strange as hell, I’m fine with that, but show me why I should care about all the people who this is happening to, you know?

So, Duane swiches back to Nita and Kit, who must deal with ramifications of Dairine’s actions, which includes the fact that she left a GIANT GATE TO MARS open. Had I considered this? No, and one of the coolest things about how this book progresses is that I get one character’s take on events, but then I get to see how it affects other people. I felt excited and thrilled about Dairine’s trip to Mars and elsewhere, despite recognizing that it was foolish. But from Nita’s perspective, this is a DISASTER. It’s not exciting; it’s terrifying. It’s confirmed that this is Dairine’s Ordeal, and that means ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN AT THIS POINT.

And it’s important to note how much anxiety all of this causes Nita. She doesn’t want to lie to her parents ever again, but Dairine hasn’t made that easy for her at all. Dairine left with no communication at all, and Nita remains behind to pick up the pieces. Of course, things are complicated when DAIRINE answers the phone at home, which is impossible in Nita’s mind. How can Dairine be at home and somewhere in outer space? Oh, wizardry. YOU ARE SO BEAUTIFULLY COMPLICATED. Yet wizardry can be unnerving and scary, too, and the idea of a “fake” Dairine in the Callahan home… damn, it’s really upsetting, isn’t it?

But that’s sort of the point. Dairine is callous, and she doesn’t have the discipline to deal with wizardry at this point. Perhaps that’s what her Ordeal will be about! I don’t know that yet, and I’m guessing that the next chapter will be from Diarine’s perspective. For now, though, let’s all acknowledge how cool it is that as soon as Nita and Kit realize that they’re in over their heads, they go to Tom and Carl. THEY ASK ADULTS WHO KNOW LOTS OF THINGS. THIS IS SO GREAT. And it’s definitely something we’ve seen in past books, you know? Tom and Carl don’t provide answers, either, and often times, they don’t even really have guidance, at least not the kind Nita or Kit expect.

However, the beauty of this chapter is that these men volunteer to head to the Callahan house in order to explain where Dairine is themselves. BLESS. THEIR. HEARTS. I get it, too! Both Nita and Kit apparently look like shit, first of all. And Kit closed a patent gateway by himself, which must be something a younger wizard is unlikely to do. Then, we learn that Dairine used her own body to create that gateway, and that she used the new “software version” of the manual. WIZARDRY IS UPDATING TO THE MODERN AGE, Y’ALL, THIS IS SO COOL. That makes me wonder how the hell this book looked when it was originally published. Did it even revolve around a computer in 1990? Probably, but it must have been executed differently than this one. Regardless, the story still fascinates me because this is the first chance we get to see this new “digital” manual in use. And given that Dairine seems to be using it purely as a shortcut, I can see a possible exploration of a theme here. Unlike the last two books, Dairine doesn’t suffer consequences for her wizardry as she uses it. How long until she does?

Well, her family doesn’t have to wait long. I can’t help but be slightly amused by Harry Callahan’s reaction to his computer being a tool of wizardry. IT ENTERTAINS ME, OKAY. But y’all, how great is this exchange???

Nita felt sorry for her father; he looked so pale. Her mother went to him, put an arm around him. “What did she do?” she said.

“She went to Mars and left the door open,” said Tom.

Nita’s dad shut his eyes. “She went to Mars.”

“Just like that…” said her mother.

BLESS ALL OF THIS. Or how about the reveal that wizardry is passed through on Harry’s side of the family? Hey, at least he doesn’t act like Petunia does in Harry Potter. Still, this is a lot to reveal to a family. Their daughter is on MARS. THE ACTUAL PLANET. Which means that the Dairine in their house is one of the creepiest things in this series so far, or at least for me she is. She may look like Dairine, but Nita was able to pick up on the subtle things that made her different and UTTERLY CREEPY. Why? Because it has no soul. None at all!

The whole experience is such an eerie way to demonstrate wizardry to the Callahans and to explain why wizards are important, but it’s necessary. That’s why I value Tom and Carl’s part in this story. Could Nita and Kit have done the teaching? Sure, but in this context, I imagine these two adults appreciated two seasoned wizards explaining everything to them. So how the hell is Kit going to manage this??? He wants to do so, but is he going to do it alone or invite Nita to help him? I WANT TO MEET KIT’S FAMILY.

God, there’s just so much potential by the end of this chapter. Kit doesn’t just have to tell his parents about his wizardry; he and Nita have to trace Dairine’s trail into ANOTHER GALAXY. It sounds dangerous and ridiculous and impossible, and I was pleased that Nita’s dad stated as much.

“Even saints have to start somewhere,” Carl said softly. “And it’s always been the children who save the Universe from the previous generation, and remake the Universe in their own image.”

Gods, what a powerful message.

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! There are various levels of support, from $1 up to whatever you want! You’ll get to read a private blog, extra reviews, and other such rewards.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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