In the second half of the sixth chapter of High Wizard, the universe can be a scary and beautiful place at the same time. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
This is astounding.
I’m actually gonna start at the end of the chapter because it summarizes the tone and context of this story in a haunting way, and it’ll help me contextualize the narrative:
But many millions of light-years later, in some baking wilderness under a barren, brilliant sky, a bitterly weary Dairine sat down on a stone and cried for a while in shock at the utter strangeness of the universe, where unexpected evil lives side by side with unexpected kindness, and neither ever seems quite overcome by the other…
Dairine travelled to the Crossings, eager to find her quest, to become the hero of the story, and what she found dispelled the stereotypes and misconceived notions she had about the universe. I wrote about that in one context in the last review, but in the second half of the chapter, the sheer difficulty of the logistics of travel catch up to her in a frightening way. In Dairine’s mind, she was heading out to fight her version of Darth Vader.
In reality? She traveled to the universe’s biggest transportation hub without doing any research whatsoever, and it’s all catching up to her. Actually, it’s not just that she used wizardry to get there; she’s more or less the first field test for a new wizard using the digital manual, which she didn’t learn how to use before she left. It compounds the challenges that she faces! She had the luxury of traveling in one direction to get to the Crossings, but once she tries to do a more complicated wizardry, her ignorance and lack of experience is glaring. She can’t just do wizardy by asking for it, despite that it seemed like that was the case.
So I appreciate the many levels to Dairine’s query to travel to somewhere where she’s expected, where she can do something big. I love that this is a story about someone choosing to be part of this kind of narrative rather than falling into it accidentally or through fortune or coincidence. Wizardry is all about choices, so it thematically fits well within the series. But there are still a ton of hoops that Dairine has to jump through, all because the computer doesn’t have her personal data. I suspect that’s because this is an external force. It’s not like magic was for Kit or Nita; they learned wizardry from a manual and had to memorize entire passages or verses. They had to familiarize themselves with the Speech, with pronunciation, with conviction and sincerity. That’s an entirely internal process. Dairine isn’t coming at this from the same angle, you know?
I’m also going to assume that the BEM – bug-eyed monsters – that chase after Dairine were in the Crossings on purpose. I can’t imagine that it was a coincidence! But let’s say it is, and they just happened to suspect that a human in the Crossings was strange enough to investigate. I’m still shocked by what happens in response to this: Dairine kills one of the aliens. I don’t believe that Duane is avoiding the ramifications of this so much as she’s delaying it because EIGHT MILLION THINGS HAPPEN ALL AT THE SAME TIME IN THIS CHAPTER. Dairine is so consumed with escaping in time that she never really thinks about the fact that she used wizardry to kill someone.
That’s why I wanted to open this review with a quote of the final sentence. In the span of this chapter, Dairine experiences so much. When it seems like hope is about to run out, she runs across the only other human in the Crossings, who unquestioningly assists her escape the BEMs. It is an astounding act of kindness, one that he’ll never be repaid for. He did it just because he thought he should. If he hadn’t, would she have even made it to the nonhuman bathrooms? We should have bought enough time for her wizardry to kick in? Or would she be dead now?
The universe is an awe-inspiring and terrifying place.
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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