In the first half of the eleventh chapter of A Wizard Abroad, the wizards find war. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of consent
This is the first time in the whole series that so many wizards are in a single location. It’s weird! I’m so used to wizards being spread out in this series that this feels exceptional. It’s a brilliant story choice because it helps this final battle feel like nothing we’ve ever read. There is a lot that’s unknown. They’re traveling to a parallel existence that Nita’s never been to. There are so many wizards around that it’s now highly possible that TONS OF PEOPLE ARE GONNA DIE. Then there’s Ronan, and EVERYTHING IS FRIGHTENING.
Duane’s setting things up before she knocks it all down. So let me take the time to appreciate this bit:
“Give me a break! As if the Powers care about something like gender. They change names and shapes and sexes and bodies the way we change clothes.”
YES. GENDERQUEER OR NON-BINARY POWERS THAT BE. I SUPPORT THIS.
This is relevant because the Champion, one of the better-known Powers, is currently hiding inside of Ronan. It’s a very strange situation because until he became attracted to Nita, he never had any confirmation that this was the case. I got the sense that he felt this power inside him, but he never had the means to name it or identify it. So how does a Power do something like this without the expressed consent of the wizard? Duane never mentions that this happened. Nita says this, though:
“It’s not right for me,” he said. “Why don’t I get any say in this?”
“But you do,” Nita said.
Maybe after the fact, sure, and any wizard can throw a Power out. But why not ask before? What if this is an act of dishonor or a rejection of wizardry, too? Plus, Ronan loudly worries that if he lets the Champion out during this battle, he may never be able to reject him. That’s a legitimate thing to worry about, and I don’t know that Ronan gets all that much time to consider the implications of what he’s doing. Perhaps it will be addressed later?
I don’t know when, though. The transition to the battle happens so quickly. Not long after this scene, the wizards assemble outside Castle Matrix, wielding their weapons for the fight. (BLESS THE WIZARD WITH THE EGGBEATER, YOU ARE MY PERSONAL HERO.) Tualha shows up, which is a huge sign that the battle is about to begin. Biddy? She’s “gone,” more or less. The Power left her body, and she’s in a coma. She most likely will die soon. IT HAPPENS OFF THE PAGE, BY THE WAY, which felt a little cruel, but Biddy knew this was the cost of what she’d done.
Johnny’s pep talk was electrifying, but in that way that feels both inspirational and frightening. This was real. It was happening! I appreciated that Duane broke from the trope of having someone give a big speech and urge nothing but bravery. Johnny actually warns against pointless martyrdom and sacrifice; it was a refreshing touch! He allows for people to stay behind without feeling shame, and that’s a wonderful thing. Wizardry is all about choice, so it fits with what we know. (Which, again, is why the whole Champion-inside-Ronan thing feels so strange to me.)
Yet as far as I could tell, everyone goes into the sideways world where they plan to battle the Lone One. I imagine these wizards knew what they were getting into and had prepared accordingly. There’s not much of a difference between the world they travel to and the one they came from aside from small changes. At least, that’s not the case until Morrigan shows up in the form of a huge crow named Scaldcrow. It’s an interesting scene, given that this is one of the Powers, because Morrigan doesn’t exactly seem all that willing to help one side out. They’re more of a trickster than anything else, one who enjoys war and battle.
And because the world had to orchestrate it this way, this section ends right as the chaos finally hits:
They ran out at the wizards, screaming, from the shelter of the trees. Nita and Kit, being well off to one side and their view not blocked, had a chance to look the situation over before it got totally incomprehensible. There were a lot of the same kind of drow that they had seen in Bray; some of them were riding black horselike creatures, but fanged like tigers. There were strange headless humanoid creatures with eyes in their chests, and scaly wormlike beasts that flowed along the ground but were a hundred times the size of any snake.
I’M NOT GOING TO BE OKAY. AT ALL. OH MY GOD.
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.
– 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 have been announced here.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!