Mark Reads ‘A Wizard Alone’: Chapter 3, Part I

In the first half of the third chapter of A Wizard Alone, Kit and Ponch try to track down Darryl. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Lots to talk about today!


One thing I adore about genre fiction – from speculative to sci-fi to fantasy and plenty of things in between – is the way in which these works can often inspire me to ask, “What if?” I love thought experiments; I love to imagine alternate scenarios. I say that at the start of this review because Duane has me asking this question. What if? What if a wizard was in a family who didn’t accept them and their wizardry?

As I said on video, we’ve been lucky in that Nita’s family and Kit’s family have, on the whole, been accepting of their wizardly children. There have certainly been disagreements and odd spots, but both these characters have loving parents who are willing to accept their children for who they are and what they can do. What I appreciate about this series, though, is that Duane still gives us various takes on this. In this chapter in particular, Kit thinks about how cool his younger sister, Carmela, has been about wizardry, which is in contrast to the things his older sister has said and done.

Duane invokes a very specific reaction in Helena, Kit’s older sister: she initially believes that he may have made a deal with the devil. And in a lot of Latino/Hispanic communities, that’s a real belief for them. I thought it was neat that Kit’s parents didn’t believe this, but someone else in the family did. This is where the “What if?” bit came in, though. Helena more or less came around to accepting Kit, though she did so from a distance. What if she outright rejected him? What if she believed he was Satanic or evil and started telling others? Duane gives us a piece of an answer:

The thought of telling someone you loved that you were a wizard, and then discovering that he or she couldn’t handle it and would have to have the memory removed, made Kit shudder.

So, is there, like, a whole process for this? Does a wizard have to file a complaint or request, or do other wizards get a notification about it? I’m fascinated by this choice because wizards are all about not lying to the world, and hiding this from someone feels like it would be a last resort. Yet wouldn’t this also torment a wizard who couldn’t share their life with those they cared about? Look, if you don’t mind the metaphor analysis, you could read wizardry as a metaphor for sexuality, which is a frequent thing in the genre. You can’t control having wizardry, though admittedly this analogy falls apart because there’s no “test” to take to prove you’re gay or queer. Still, the point I’m trying to make is that I distanced myself from those who could not accept me for who I am. Yes, it was a healthy choice, but it’s not fun to sever friendships or family members. So how does that work for wizards?


All this led me to Darryl, and I wondered what his life was like with his own parents or siblings, if he had any. At this point, we know so very little about him other than that he’s on Ordeal, he is autistic, and that something or someone is preventing him from finishing his Ordeal. Thus, I felt thrilled by the events in this chapter. Darryl is a mystery, and Ponch and Kit are on the case.

And lord, is this a complex one. Without talking to Darryl, all they’ve got is a sense for what’s happening. Ponch in particular is the one to realize that the Lone One has been pursuing Darryl for a long time, well before his Ordeal. But on top of that, Ponch keeps insisting that Darryl is “not there,” as if his consciousness is somewhere else. I loved the theory that he had retreated into his internal landscape because he was overstimulated, but what I’m interested to see is how all of this also relates to the Lone One. Is the Lone One going after Darryl because they’re autistic? Because they want Darryl to fail their Ordeal?

And what does Ponch mean when he says the have to “go the way he went.” Why do they need to track Darryl without shortcuts? Is there some meaning in that? I ask because an eight to ten mile hike through sand dunes is not an easy thing. I hope Kit has water in his claudication pocket.

Mark Links Stuff

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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