Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 10, Part II

In the second half of the tenth chapter of Wizards at War, I am shaken to my core. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

YOU ALL KNEW I WOULD LOVE THIS. Y’ALL JUST SAT THERE AND CACKLED AND WAITED FOR THIS MOMENT. IT IS HERE, AND YES, I WAS TRULY NOT READY FOR THIS PLOT TWIST.

My gods, what do I even say? I’m so floored by Duane’s decision to give Carmela a role in this war that I just want to say THIS IS GREAT and then move on. But it’s important to examine why this is so satisfying. Personally, it’s rooted in the unspoken “rules” of the genre. Now, I stuck that word in quotes because we all know that there aren’t actually rules. An author can do whatever they want as long as it tells a good story! I’ll admit that some writing/genre rules exist because invocation of certain things often makes for a bad story. However, isn’t this entire series a fantastic example of an author bending the rules? You’re not “supposed” to mix science fiction and fantasy, and yet, HERE WE ARE.

So, a lot of fantasy (YA and urban, particularly, of which you can see within this book/series) features a fantastical world that sits inside or next to or under our own world. And in these scenarios, much dramatic tension comes from the separation of these worlds. There’s a reason why the majority of the world doesn’t know about the “hidden” one, and this reason is usually give to us pretty early on. With few exceptions, the segmentation of worlds isn’t broken, either. Now, I tend to like stories where the “hidden” world spills out into the known world because I love ramifications. Implications. Cause and effect. It’s one of the reasons why I was so floored when Duane had these kids share the knowledge of wizardry with their parents! It created a dynamic within this series that was so much more interesting than if the events of these novels had always remained a secret.

Even then, however, I assumed that there was the life at home with the Callahans and the Rodriguezes, and these worlds would still remain separate. Nita’s and Dairine’s dad would know about wizardry, but still go about his life. Kit’s mama and papa would behave the same, and no matter how weird Carmela’s life got, she’d also remain behind. Those are the “rules,” right?

Except they’re not really rules at all; they’re reader expectations. The savvier we become as an audience, the more predictable writing can become. And trust me, as someone who is now crafting stories, this is something most of us worry about. You have to find a balance between subversion and familiarity. This, however, is an example of how Duane has surprised me. I simply did not expect that Carmela would figure out how to summon a worldgate, nor was I anticipating her being the person to SAVE NITA AND SKER’RET WITH THAT WEIRD THING SHE BOUGHT A FEW BOOKS AGO. She’s so casual about it, but it’s partially because she feels like she belongs with her friends and her brother. She’s got skills that could help them, but she also has a vested interest in saving the world, too.

However, Duane doesn’t limit Carmela’s participation to just that. She may rescue Nita and Sker’ret, but she has value to this struggle. Her negotiation of the surrender of the Tawalf is downright incredible, and no one else could have pulled that off. All that time that she spent on alien shopping networks paid off because that is how she found out that Earth chocolate is a commodity to other species, enough so that the Tawalf TURNED THEMSELVES IN JUST FOR THE PROMISE OF CHOCOLATE ONCE THEY WERE OUT OF THEIR INCARCERATION. Holy shit, she’s amazing, and I absolutely cannot wait to see what else she’ll do in this book.

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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