In the second half of the second chapter of A Wizard Abroad, Nita makes a new “friend” who is cuter than the world should allow. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Well, this book’s conflict came upon us quickly, didn’t it? I can’t define it in detail, but something is happening here, AND I AM VERY EAGER TO FIND OUT WHAT THAT IS. The second half of the chapter introduces this alongside someone I’m guessing is a major character. Tualha Slaith, “a princess of the People” and “a bard and a scholar,” is perhaps the most deliberately cute character in this whole series. Duane gives us a magical being stuck in a kitten because… well I don’t know. Do princesses always get stuck into animals? Are the People a reference to other wizards or some other fantastical group? Why did Tualha have to choose between smarts and speed? WHAT IS HAPPENING?
The text relies on this confusion, though. Once Tualha starts talking to Nita, she says a lot of things I just flat-out did not understand. I get the sense that Tualha doesn’t care; she certainly doesn’t make this conversation easy for Nita to follow. She appears quite suddenly, then begins talking for a VERY long time. She can alternate between being coy, condescending, and vaguely interested in who Nita is. That ultimately means that she still exists separate from Nita. She might be an ally or some sort of magical guide, but she doesn’t make that journey obvious or easy for Nita.
Instead, she first talks about the history of invasions in Ireland. I got the sense that this was important for something that comes later in A Wizard Abroad, but it also dragged more than I’m used to. Tualha doesn’t define half of the terms or proper names that she mentions, so in that sense, the reader is in pretty much the same head space as Nita. I had a lot of questions, and so did she! BUT HOW DARE YOU INTERRUPT TUALHA. I’m not complaining about it entirely, though. I found Tualha engaging and hilarious even if I didn’t really understand what I was reading. I don’t know if these were all cultural myths from Ireland or something Duane invented wholesale, though I’m not sure that matters in the long run.
The brief break with Biddy Ó Dálaigh was great, mostly because I wanted to meet more characters who work with Aunt Annie. PLUS, I LOVE HORSES. But it’s also a way to help give us a sense for what life is like on the farm, and that’s important. Why? Because Duane is trying to build something natural and effortless here. The wizardry we do finally experience at the end of this chapter comes off as a natural part of life in Ireland, just as the farm does. The problem here is that Nita slips into the past (“sideways,” as Tualha calls it) without doing a wizardry herself. The wind does it. That’s a common motif in the second chapter, and now I want to know who the People of the Air are. Is that related?
That’s for another time. I just… what is happening here? What is influencing the world so that the wind can activate time travel? Granted, that’s not exactly what’s happening here, of course, but Nita’s sideways jump to another world and another existence is far too casual. Plus, it’s confirmed in the text that she was sent to Ireland to be on errantry. How is this all related?
I’m so ready, y’all.
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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