In the second half of the ninth chapter of A Wizard Alone, Nita unleashes her plan on the Lone One. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For talk of ableism.
Wow. Wow. I don’t know when a book inspired such elation in joy in me like this, BUT HERE WE ARE. Diane Duane wrote a book wherein a black autistic wizard is the smartest, most powerful character WE HAVE LITERALLY EVER SEEN. Not only that, but… well, I’ll get there.
Where do I even start? What do I say about all of this? I feel like the video for this chapter is great for my instantaneous reactions, so I’d like to focus on what this chapter means as a whole. A Wizard Alone is a strange book out of context, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed it so much. I now understand the importance of The Wizard’s Dilemma to the conflict here, and this book is more densely serialized than others in the series. So yes, I’m biased in that regard, but there’s more to this novel than just that. The primary theme of loneliness and friendship is really what’s drawn me in and kept me engaged.
And oh my god, THEY’RE ALL WIZARDS ALONE AT SOME POINT. I’m theorized that in various ways throughout reading that, but it never truly hit me the way it did here. Kit’s link to Darryl’s mind pulled him away from everyone, and he ended up in the mirror trap largely alone. (Yes, Ponch was there, but Kit acted like he was alone.) Nita’s grief consumed her so much that she was left to fend for herself in the midst of a nightmare. And Darryl… my gods, y’all. Darryl is alone by choice. He chose to design that trap after studying the Lone One for months, and he chose to remain in it with the Lone One FOR THE REST OF HIS NATURAL LIFE.
Duane imbues Darryl with innocence, with a purity that is infectious and inescapable. Upon thinking back to this thrilling confrontation with the Lone One, I also noticed how much it was a group effort. Darryl’s innocence and power matters the most, and that’s important. It’s also fantastic that all three of these characters realize just how powerful they are TOGETHER. What would this have been without Nita’s intervention and her incredible knowledge of world kernels? Would Nita have even known what she was experiencing in her dreams if it weren’t for Kit’s explorations into Darryl’s mind? And as the three of them tease and taunt the Lone One, it felt right. These three people deserved to be there. They deserved this victory. No, maybe that’s the wrong word.
They earned it.
After all of this, I get know why Darryl is an abdal and why he’s so important. He traps the Lone One in a manner that is insidiously effective; he substantively contributes to lowering the amount of the Lone One in this part of the solar system; and once he’s given an out, a way to leave this behind, he refuses. That’s why his Ordeal was simply completing the Oath, isn’t it? Darryl’s test was whether or not he could commit to the principles of wizardry. After spending weeks just trying to get to the end of the Oath, those words were burned into his heart, enough that when he promised to stay in his own mind to keep vigilance on the Lone One, he was well aware of how serious it was. I admire that consistency from Duane; she commits to the rules of her world, even if it means that uncomfortable, sad things must happen.
Of course, I’m dancing around the Big Thing in this chapter. If you’ve been reading this site for a decent amount of time, you know that I tire of the trope of stories where disabled people are magically cured. In this book in particular, I braced myself for what I saw as the inevitable: Darryl would use his own kernel to remove his autism. Not only is it an ableist trope, but I worried that it would just be bad writing. If Darryl suddenly stops being autistic, all the wonderful, unique things that got him to the point where he is would be gone. Darryl being autistic isn’t a negative in the world.
And then this happened.
And then he lifted his chin. “No.”
They looked at him.
“No,” Darryl said more strongly. “I’m me. I’m what I’ve got.”
The solitaire analogy he makes works so well, too. This is the hand he’s been dealt by life, and look where it got him. Look who it has made him. Why would he take that away?
I know that these books were edited somewhat for timeline stuff, and I have no idea what else was changed. (It would be cool to know all this stuff once I’m done with the series!) As the text stands, this is one of the very few times I’ve seen this trope rejected, and I’m flat-out never seen it used in this specific manner. Granted, I’ve not read many books with autistic characters, and certainly not any with them as the heroes of the story.
How do others feel about this?
Mark Links Stuff
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