In the first half of the nineteenth chapter of The Wizard’s Dilemma, the battle begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I’m not even done with this chapter, but WHAT AN ACHIEVEMENT. One of the great delights of reading Young Wizards is how indescribable they feel when you’re in the midst of them. I have virtually no framework with which to compare these books to in order to get someone else to understand what they are. Like, is this a fantasy book about conquering cancer, or is it a science fiction book about alternate universes? GUESS WHAT, IT’S BOTH AND MORE.
ANYWAY. Let’s talk about this nerve-wracking chapter.
“Since we’re not with Nita, it’s going to be hard to convince the ones who guard the borders to let us in.”
At the start, I thought this was what I’d have to be concerned with in terms of Kit and Ponch. What if the guardians refused them entry? What if Nita faced the Lone One and death all by herself? That’s how the Lone One wanted things: It thrived on isolation. Thus, there was a cruelty in letting Pralaya assist Nita. It was the Lone One’s way of teasing Nita with how alone she truly was. Even worse? IT WAS WORKING. Duane captures Nita’s despair with a vicious intensity throughout this chapter. Some of it comes from the dark imagery of her mother’s universe. It’s very easy for things to feel dire when this version of Manhattan is shrouded in darkness, full of shadows, and swimming with malignant blobs that represent the cancer. There’s an emotional edge to it, too, and this is just one of a number of examples of it:
She was tired, and very scared – both for herself and for her mother – and she simply wished that all this was over. The thought came to her: You are now so tired, you will make some terrible mistake.
And she was too tired even to care about that.
EVERYTHING SUCKS, BASICALLY. Well, not everything, because then Kit and Ponch find their home in the dark universe. Yes, it seemed exactly as impossible as it sounds. If that space created universes, how could it create one that already exists? The deceit is haunting, though. Kit could have disappeared into that perfect world, at least to give himself the illusion that his problems were solved. But there’s that motif popping up again: the Lone One wants to isolate everyone because that’s the best way It can break them down.
Yet as upset and determined as Kit is, this specific conflict feels tailored specifically for Nita. Therefore, I believe that’s why it is easier for him to resist the temptations of the Lone One, whereas it’s far more challenging for Nita to do so. There’s a chilling exchange she has in her head about the Oath, where she ponders the fairness of what she’s asked. How can she tell when it’s right for her to be courageous? To put aside “death for life”? And if it’s so hard to tell, how is that fair? The thing is: I’m certain Nita has known what’s right in this situation the whole time. She’s justified the deal with the Lone One in a number of ways in recent chapters, first of all, and she’s let her desire to keep her mother alive act as the sole defining factor. Which I get!!! I’m not criticizing her for wanting to have a living mother. But in that moment, I saw her as trying to find some weird loophole to bolster her confidence over the choice she was going to make.
Which makes Kit’s discovery all the more frustrating and exciting. If the Lone One thrives on isolation, then I don’t think it’s a stretch to suggest that Kit and Nita’s conflict in the early part of this book WAS DESIGNED BY THE LONE ONE. Or, rather, the Lone One gently pushed Nita in that direction by having her resent Kit for his solution. If they’d stuck together, it is possible that they would have figured out what to do with Nita’s mother much earlier. Would Nita have ever even considered the Lone One’s offer? Would it have changed her name and who she was?
YEAH, LET’S TALK ABOUT THAT. OH MY GOD, I AM STILL SO UPSET ABOUT IT. The Lone Power knew that Nita’s spell wouldn’t work as soon as It got inside her heart. I’m crushed, y’all. I definitely didn’t see it coming, first of all. Yet it’s also another way in which Duane ramps up the tension and despair. The book doesn’t linger in it, though, and I’m impressed with that, too. After Nita nearly gives herself over to the Lone One, we’re dealt a double surprise in Kit locating Nita and then NITA’S MOTHER APPEARING HERSELF AND DEMANDING THE LONE ONE GET OUT OF HER BODY. HADF ;ALKDJFS ; A;KLF A;DSKF AF;LADJSFH;AF ;ADF it is absolutely the best shock yet.
And both characters provide this story with so much meaning. You’ve got the steadfast friend who refuses to let the Lone One put a wedge between him and his best friend. Then you’ve got Nita’s mother loudly proclaiming that she gets a say in what happens to her body. WHICH I LOVE DEEPLY. It’s powerful and necessary. But what does it mean for this fight? How much power does Nita’s mother have, and can they use it for the spell that Kit just realized would work? Is that how this is gonna be solved??? TEAMWORK AND FRIENDSHIP???
Yes, please. PLEASE.
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