In the second half of the fifth chapter of A Wizard Alone, Kit and Ponch go after Darryl again. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I don’t know when I first had the epiphany that Ponch does here. And maybe that’s a little sad, that it happened so long ago, that I must have been quite young when it happened. That’s the case for some of us, though. Circumstances inspire the realization that the world can be a bitter, painful, and unfair place to most people. I do know that this central question is one of the things that drew me away from God at the end of high school. I couldn’t find a way to believe in a world that had been so cruel to me and many others and a God that cared deeply for me, but did nothing.
The fact that a dog is what got me thinking about this is pretty damn spectacular in and of itself, but I do love that I did not feel dire while reading this. The opening scene here is some heavy shit, something that’ll give most people an existential crisis like the one Ponch has. But art is one of a number of things that can lift us out of that despair. It can give us the means to understand cruelty or to escape it. And it most certainly has the power to make people consider compassion, the idea that we should think of others and how the world affects them. That’s particularly apt in a book with a character like Darryl, who deserves compassion himself and who is embroiled in a struggle that typifies cruelty.
Let’s talk about Darryl because I think I might know what’s happening here. This latest sequence wherein Ponch and Kit enter Darryl’s mind is as dizzying and unnerving as the last one, despite that it looks nothing like the desert locale they visited before. Instead, the icy, windy methane atmosphere offers an entirely different type of horror for the reader… and the Lone One. The pattern I did recognize was in the pursuit. A hellish world, full of frightening creatures, led to a confrontation where the Lone One thought he captured Darryl, and then… surprise. Shock. It’s not what the Lone One (or Kit, or even us for that matter) thinks it is.
But why? The Lone One says something particularly confusing that I haven’t quite figured out:
“You should never have accepted the power if you weren’t willing to use it. And you weren’t… so now you lose it.”
Isn’t Darryl using his power this entire time??? Kit later makes note of just how strong Darryl’s power is, so… what??? Why does the Lone One think this? IT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE TO ME.
And then Duane drops another plot twist: The Lone One cannot see or hear Kit or Ponch while in Darryl’s mind. Which explains why It never went after them the first time. But given how detailed and intentional these two worlds are, I have to wonder if Darryl did that on purpose, too. Did he know Kit and Ponch were there the last time? Okay, maybe that’s just a terrible theory; maybe Darryl adapted his wizardry once Kit called out to him and he definitely knew they were there.
Regardless, it is astounding to me the affect that Darryl has on the Lone One. In Kit’s words:
Kit was having trouble believing what he was hearing. The Lone Power was frustrated. He saw the unbelievable – saw the Power that invented death start hammering with Its fists on the upright coffin of ice.
To add to this, the block of ice Darryl hides in breaks the Lone One’s sword. WHICH… HOW. HOW THE HELL IS DARRYL THIS POWERFUL. How is Darryl able to create such intricate worlds and keep himself out of them? Because at the end of all this, Kit gets that same feeling that Ponch had the last time: that Darryl isn’t really present in this world. Is this whole thing like some sort of wizardly astral projection? How is he doing this?
AHHHHHH, I NEED MORE OF THIS BOOK NOW!
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