In the second half of the sixteenth chapter of The Wizard’s Dilemma, I WASN’T READY. I TRIED TO BE, AND IT DID NOT WORK. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For talk of death, grief, and cancer.
Well, the dilemma has arrived, and I am messed up.
I keep trying to think back to Pralaya’s introduction, to the scenes that preceded this one, and I can’t find a single clue. They might very well be there, and it’s just my own memory that’s failing me here. Part of me also thinks that this is the point: we weren’t supposed to suspect the Lone One’s role here because we took it for granted. The truth – the very thing Nita is trying to get at – is that the Lone Power was always here, and Their work was always at the center of what was happening to Nita’s mother.
Yet Nita’s confrontation with the Lone Power is still creepy, still surprising, and still absolutely sobering. And it’s not like it wasn’t prior to this moment! Nita’s first test-run in a practice universe more like her mother’s body ended up in failure. Really bad failure. Despite locating the world kernel, Nita has to cope with the fact that the “disease” in the practice universe is utterly opposed to what she’s trying to do. I loved the visual metaphor of sand because it helped convey just how impossible this task was. How can Nita eradicate every grain of “sand” in her mother’s body through brute force? She simply doesn’t have enough power to do that, first of all. Secondly, trying to convince a life force to stop existing isn’t exactly an easy idea, so that’s the second wall she’s up against.
In hindsight, I’m super creeped out by how insidious the appearance of the Lone One is. I can see now how Pralaya’s suggestion is evidence that the Lone One was present in Pralaya’s body. LIKE OKAY HOLY SHIT THE LONE ONE JUST SNUCK UP ON US ALL. But again, I feel like that’s part of a greater intent on Duane’s part. Why did It reveal Itself now? Why after this specific test? I think it’s evidence of Its manipulative power. Once Nita gets a taste of the difficulty of her task, It appears. It’s so fascinating to me how much of this feels like the traditional temptation of, say, the Devil in religious literature or the same trope in fantasy novels.
Yet casting the Lone One in terms like this feels like a disservice. Yeah, this technically fits that trope, but it’s so much more than a temptation. The word “dilemma” truly is the better descriptor because of the ways in which Nita’s reality has been split. It’s complicated! Even the choice It presents her – give up her wizardry and It will stop her mother’s cancer – already has numerous complications. How will Nita’s choice affect Kit? Dairine? The universe itself?
Nita thinks of “truth” here, and it’s a nebulous concept some times, but it’s even more muddled in the presence of the Lone One. For the record, I do believe the Lone One would fulfill their offer; there’s no reason for them not to. Plus, why leave a frustrated and angry wizard around, one who would absolutely try to get revenge against you? Yet I don’t think that makes this dilemma any easier to solve. What the Lone One is offering is downright scary to me! Take Pralaya for example; the Lone One gained access to them by exploiting their curiosity and their culture’s acceptance of death. So, it only stands to reason that the Lone one is trying to exploit Nita, too.
So, what is that “truth” that all wizards seek? It’s uncomfortable, but the specific one that Nita keeps dancing around (yet Pralaya and his people accept it) is that her mother is probably going to die despite what she attempts. If Nita accepts this, then what is she left with? She can turn to the Lone One to save her mother (and lose her wizardry), or she can accept this loss as part of the world she lives in. That’s a painful choice to be presented with, you know? So you save someone you love or do you accept their loss? Most people would want to save someone they loved at any cost!
Yet this is wizardry. It is not magic, and I have never been more aware of the difference between those two realities than right now. No one is “magically” saved. It is all part of a transaction, and that means that Nita will pay regardless of the choice. She can pay with her wizardry, or she can pay with her mother. And that’s not even taking into account that if she still tries to save her mom with Pralaya’s help, SHE MIGHT DIE, TOO.
My gods, y’all. WHAT DID THIS BOOK JUST BECOME. Pain. Endless pain.
Mark Links Stuff
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