Mark Reads ‘The Wizard’s Dilemma’: Chapter 18

In the eighteenth chapter of The Wizard’s Dilemma, I AM PAIN. PAIN IS ME. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards. 

Well, it’s time for me to brace myself for the inevitable.


There’s a dread in this book that’s undeniable. Palpable. So real and scary that it’s hard to describe it as well as Duane does here unless you’ve been through this experience. Getting up and knowing the day has arrived. Preparing yourself for the worst, trying to hope for the best. The way you talk to others like you never want to talk again. Forcing yourself to interact out of necessity, not desire.

I was full of nervous energy and fear because of the opening scene of this chapter. It felt dire when Nita sent Dairine off. It felt final. How could I possibly hope for success when Nita herself didn’t seem to believe that she would do it? She’d already resigned herself to failure, to giving up her wizardry to save her mother.



And then I was shocked because I expected that Duane would focus entirely on Nita in this chapter. Why wouldn’t she? Nita was about to enter the internal universe of her mother to try and convince her cancer to stop doing what it was meant to do. But the switch over to Kit is brilliant, a chance for Duane to give us a break of sorts while also bringing his story in line with Nita’s plot. Like Kit, I panicked once I realized that Nita had left without him. She was isolating herself again, and it was never more clear that the Lone One had been influencing her.

It’s Ponch, though, who acts as the wild card here, and I love it!!! PONCH IS SUCH A GOOD DOG. As I said in on video, I’d been wondering how the universe-creating space was going to tie in to the main plot, and here we are: it’s how Ponch leads Kit to the waiting room universe. Now, it’s not a perfect solution, and I was thrilled that Duane did not make it so. Yes, Ponch was able to get Kit very close to Nita, but it made a lot of sense to me that all the aliens there would be hyper suspicious of Kit. Here’s someone none of them have ever met, asking after someone on a very intense mission. Had the others already figured out that the Lone One had a hand in this??? Okay, maybe that’s a bit much, but it’s not the worst theory.

Regardless, let’s talk about Dazel, because WHAT.

The Sulamid bowed once again, if a bow was what it was. It was not directed at Kit but at Ponch. “Pathfinder, seer for the seer in the dark,” said the Sulamid, “tracker in the night-places: wait.”

WHAT. NO. COME BACK. STOP DOING THIS. Wait where? Was Dazel telling Ponch (and, therefore, Kit) to not intervene??? I DON’T KNOW.

This was suitably odd, but it paled in comparison to Kit’s conversation with the Transcendent Pig. There’s such a compelling contrast between the Pig and the Lone One, and you could compare Kit’s conversation with the Pig and Nita’s conversation with the Lone One, and you would have a FIELD DAY with the metaphysical implications of what they said. Here, Kit uses a combination of curiosity and cunning to get what he wants out of the Pig, and that’s about the easiest way to summarize what actually happens. Truthfully, this is a complicated scene full of meaning for Kit and the series as a whole. We get a sense that even in an existence full of wizardry, which can “explain” virtually anything, there are still unknowns. Like the Pig.

Yet at the same time, the Pig’s omnipresence makes it a bizarre character. If the Pig is everywhere at once, can it have a limit to it’s knowledge? Initially, I didn’t think so, but Kit proved me wrong. In order to get the information on Nita’s whereabouts, he provides three truths to the Pig, and one of them actually surprises it:

He said, “My dog makes alternate universes, ones that no one’s ever seen before. They’re new.”

This isn’t even the biggest revelation! It’s the glede – that weird speck of light that Kit found in the darkness – that provides perhaps the most important moment. Is that thing a soul? For what? A universe? A being? WHAT IS IT?

I’m holding out hope that Duane will bring it up again before the end of the book. She moves beyond it, though, to give us the Pig’s truth. Which, I should note, KIT IMMEDIATELY QUESTIONS. Oh my gods, I love Kit, I love how fearless he can be. But he questions the Pig for a reason: How can the Pig’s truth be fair if it’s full of things he already knew? And how is it fair that the Pig never warned Nita of the Lone One?

I think this is the key:

“What’s more important is that the way she deals with the realization, when she comes up with it herself, is likely to be crucial to what she’s working on. That I wouldn’t interfere with, even if I could.”

I say that because of what comes next.

Nita Again

When Duane flips back to Nita’s POV, she brings us to a dark place. Literally! The visual imagery Duane employs in the final scene of this chapter is haunting. Disturbing. Distressing. How would cancer look in a body if you translated that to downtown Manhattan? I was reminded of the images I saw on the news (and in the New York Transit Museum in Brooklyn, which you should go to!) after Hurricane Sandy: of Metro stations flooded with dark, swirling water. Of destruction. Of jagged buildings barely standing. Even further, the cancer is represented in the horrifying malignant blobs that live in the water, and it’s through that that Duane demonstrates to the reader just how insidious and impossible this task is. Getting rid of all the malignancies is impossible enough, but convincing them all not to do what they do? How??? How is she ever going to do that?

The bleak wind blew over the gray waters, and Nita walked on through it all, with Pralaya swimming beside her, and knew true desperation’s colors at last.


Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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