Mark Reads ‘High Wizardry’: Chapter 12, Part I

In the first half of the twelfth chapter of High Wizardry, Dairine battles the Lone Power. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

I think I would read an entire short story of Nita and Kit bickering. I honestly would.


So, this might be the only thing I’ve ever read where the big climactic battle between the protagonist and the antagonist is a conversation. A CONVERSATION. Duane complicates matters, too, by revealing at the start of this chapter that none of the other mobiles can hear the Lone Power. She cannot appeal to their fear of the Lone One because they won’t believe It is even around yet. Therefore, she has to convince them to choose the right thing.

But what’s the right thing in this context? The obvious answer is that NO, YOU SHOULD NOT STOP ENTROPY AND FREEZE THE UNIVERSE UNTIL YOU FIX IT. The Lone Power makes easy work of tearing down even the most basic parts of Dairine’s arguments. How? By insisting that as a slowlife, she has “programming faults.” It’s like an ad hominem attack, isn’t it? It’s a low blow, but one It thinks can undermine Dairine right from the start.

However, this is Diarine Callahan we’re talking about. She is extremely capable and well-read, and thus, it’s immensely entertaining to watch her go up against a being LITERALLY ENDLESSLY OLDER THAN SHE IS. On top of that, Gigo comes to Dairine’s aid multiple times, and in each instance, my heart swelled. It was simply too much. Dairine’s influence on the motherboard is clear, but seeing how ready Gigo is to support the person who helped create them is a treat. So I got real worried when the Lone Power brought up Dairine’s reason for creating the mobiles: to help herself.

Because we can’t ignore that, can we? The Lone Power gets even more specific, noting that “quicklives” on Earth are all tools for humans. None of them have their own lives or rules or societies, and even though we know this is deeply unfair, the mobiles don’t know the context of life on Earth. The challenge set before Dairine is huge and scary and utterly absurd, but that’s her Ordeal. And she was chosen for this specific Ordeal because it’s best suited for her and her alone. So how the hell does she convince the mobiles not to join the Lone Power under such limited circumstances without doing anything to feed into what the Power wants in the end?

By eschewing logic and rules and proper arguments and going straight for the one thing that could sway an argument in an instant: appealing to emotion. There’s a disturbing bit here where Dairine things about humanity’s “terror of being lost into endless nonbeing: that horror at the bottom of the fear of anesthesia and death.” (Whew, that is too goddamn real, y’all.) That fear begins to overwhelm her, which is then passed along to Gigo and the other mobiles, and it is the perfect chance for her to prove her point, so SHE HAS GIGO MAKE HER A MOBILE.




It is such an intense sequence, and reading it over again for this review, I’m struck by how visceral it is. Dairine not only has to relive her entire life up to that point, but each moment of pain and terror and anxiety is analyzed by the motherboard in minute detail. I kind of… I don’t know, shut down? I know I read it, and I know what it said, but I felt like I didn’t experience the intensity of it on video because it wasn’t really hitting me on a conscious level. Instead, I kind of got lost in my own thoughts, as if the text had triggered my mind into doing exactly what Duane was describing of Dairine. And I started thinking of what this experience might be like, and it’s honestly too much to even consider, especially for someone like me who has got a lot of trauma.

My god, y’all. So I hope the opening of this review doesn’t minimize the conflict; this battle still feels just as big as ones that are more physical in nature. Dairine fought for the right for the completeness of humanity in the universe. Even if there is suffering and misery, there is nothing to appreciate the joys and happiness in the world if you’ve nothing to compare it to.

I just can’t wait for Nita and Kit to show up in the next half. IT’S GONNA BE GREAT.

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! 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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