Mark Reads ‘Wizard’s Holiday’: Chapter 14

In the fourteenth chapter of Wizard’s Holiday, I WASN’T READY, THIS WAS SO GREAT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

GOOD GODS, THIS IS AMAZING. Diane Duane resolved two massive plots in twenty pages and it didn’t feel rushed or unsatisfying! I mean, there’s still an epilogue left, but holy shit, LOOK AT THIS.

The Choice

It is astounding to me that I went from abject doom and terror straight to exuberant joy in the span of a few paragraphs. This felt so completely hopeless, and that’s a difficult thing to pull off. I couldn’t figure out how this would be resolved period, let alone in twenty pages or so. Even worse… y’all, how horrible was it to read that long, arrogant monologue from Esemeli, rubbing it in Nita’s and Kit’s faces that they were stuck with It forever? It’s one of the most difficult passages in this whole series.

AND IS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED UP WITH THE ARRIVAL OF PONCH WHO FOUND QUELT. OH MY GOD, PONCH IS THE ACTUAL BEST, Y’ALL. But let’s also take a moment to appreciate this amazing dig that Nita makes once they realize the full extent of what’s occurred:

“Or else,” Nita said, looking over at the Lone One with an expression that was difficult to read, “someone’s found a really good way to do the right things without looking like they were.” And she smiled just the slightest smile. “Didn’t somebody say they were getting a lot more mileage out of ambivalence these days?”

It’s insulting to the Lone One, but it’s also a juicy idea, isn’t it? What if Nita is right? What if the Lone One is changing in subtle ways? I LOVE THIS IDEA AND I WANT TO SEE MORE OF IT.

Y’all, I love how Quelt came around, especially since it’s later mirrored with Dairine’s story. Quelt was defensive and uncomfortable about what Kit and Nita had told her. But the fact that they were outsiders, that they came from a world that is comparatively so much “worse” than Alaalu, meant that their words carried a weight that she didn’t appreciate before. Quelt channels that to the citizens of Alaalu, past and present, as she tries to secure unanimity from her people. And I respect that, that she doesn’t use her status as the sole living wizard to make this decision. She consults everyone. AND Y’ALL, THE SCENE IS SO GOOD AND WEIRD AND POWERFUL, but I love it. I love that it goes from the personal to the political, sometimes in the span of a second. In on moment, Quelt is arguing with her parents about the future; in the next, she’s urging everyone to accept fear and uncertainty as a way of life. This part was my favorite:

“How long has it been since there was danger in our world – any real danger? Oh, occasionally there’s an accident, or some passing pain or personal sorrow – but why doesn’t it last? We’ve outgrown passion! These bodies are too used to this world, where all the edges and sharp corners have been rubbed off and everything made safe for us. We live and we die and everything is perfect and fine. What do we have to do with the rest of the universe anymore?”

INCREDIBLE. That’s not to say that this choice isn’t scary because it definitely is. It’s why Quelt doesn’t bother trying to state the opposite. She confirms that she’s afraid to because she wants to find another way. That’s the most she simplifies things, but it’s a brilliant way of stating it. Why not try to find another way to live and die, something that’s challenging and rewarding and different?

I wondered, though, how Duane was going to represent something that seemed so abstract. Would they make this choice, return home, and then… deal with things as they happened? That’d be a bit of a letdown after all of this. Instead, though, Duane writes one of the most stunning sequences imaginable: the roar of agreement. The immense spread of a light so bright it seemed impossible. And after Nita, Kit, and Ponch traveled away from that heart to safety, they got to watch a once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon: the people of Alaalu transforming to their new forms and jettisoning away from their old home. I’ve honestly run out of ways to say that this is all surreal, but y’all. It was also beautiful, a supreme statement about chance and risk and danger and choosing to live life for than the sake of it.

Nita swallowed as the upward-streaking fires increased in number. It was the starfall she had awakened to, late their first night, but in reverse, the stars falling back up into the sky now. And like that other starfall, they fell upward more and more thickly every second, a shower of fire bursting off the planet in every possible direction, out into the unending starlight of space, getting lost in the blinding radiance of Alaalu’s sun, or persisting for an amazing time as they streaked out toward the system’s heliopause.

With one last fantastic burst, Alaalu is emptied. These beings will exist in new forms, in new places, with new experiences. And it’s all because of two wizards from Earth and their very interesting dog. Bless it all.

Because I Didn’t Have To

The resolution of the problem with Earth’s sun is, admittedly, a lot quicker than what happens with Nita and Kit. Yet despite the much shorter length, Duane packs one hell of an emotional punch into these scenes. How? Well, first of all, this moment as Roshaun returned out of the roiling Sun is just… it’s too much. The more I think about it, the more it COMPLETELY FUCKS ME UP.

”Why did you do that?” she shouted at him. Or at least it was meant to be a shout: her throat seized up on her and it came out as more of a squeak.

Roshaun paused for several breaths. “Because I didn’t have to,” he said at last. And he said it in the Speech, so it was true.

Roshaun, who has had this horrific expectation forced on him, did something because he wasn’t required to. Because it wasn’t an obligation. Because he could choose to do it of his own volition. AND WOW, THAT DESTROYS ME A LOT. However, Duane wasn’t done with me. (Is she ever?) No, she had one last bit to drive the point home: Dairine had been sent the exact three wizards she needed to get this wizardry done. Even better, these wizards were perfect for the job not just because of their specialization, but because they were outsiders. Outsiders, though, who were “all personally committed beyond even their commitment to the Powers… because of knowing somebody [there].”

Which, as I’m sure many of you noticed, perfectly describes Nita and Kit.

I’M NOT OKAY.

I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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