Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 8, Part I

In the first half of the eighth chapter of Wizards at War, everything is ramping up to destroy me, I KNOW IT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Oh, cousins, so much is being seeded in this chapter! I can tell it’s a set-up to something, though I’m not sure if the second half of chapter 8 will deliver on these elements, or if this is all leading to big twists later on. Let’s discuss!

Ponch

Whatever’s happening to that dog is still a mystery to me. (My pet theory (HA) is that Ponch is turning into a wizard himself.) However, one of my favorite things about the execution of this is that Duane never forgets that Ponch is still a dog. He’s brilliant, he can create alternate worlds, he is consistently insightful… and he also likes playing fetch with rocks. AND SLOBBERING ALL OVER YOU. She has captured the essence of doghood in this character, and I adore it.

So… is that whole bit about the Choice that dogs made important? I feel like Duane never just randomly drops details without addressing them later. It’s not her style. I SHALL STROKE MY BEARD WITH SUSPICION, FRIENDS.

314.3

One of the reasons I have convinced myself that shit is about to go down is because Duane keeps accelerating the plot right before dropping to another scene. Chapter seven ended in a dire situation, but we don’t know why Dairine is desperate to find her sister and Kit. Here, Kit discovers that LITERAL DAYS have passed in the span of four to five hours. Right when Kit realizes this, BAM! We swap over to Nita. You know that means all of this is converge on itself and everything’s going to be chaos, right?

Theory time: that planet is so close to the dark matter that time moves… quicker? I want you to know that as I typed that, I literally thought, “Mark, that is a terrible theory, please delete that and re-write the paragraph.” I’m leaving it there, though, because I have no other theories. I mean, they can’t have been asleep for more than a day, right???

Dreams

I am also both disturbed and intrigued by the fact that Nita is more regularly visited by these strange dreams. That has to mean something, too, right? The sheer plainness of that dream – at first, I should say – also struck me as odd. Nita dreamt that she was in her bedroom, stressing over a zit. That’s… that’s so ordinary, isn’t it? Even though there’s a heavy surrealist element to this dream, the second half of it doesn’t fit the sort of weirdness that I was expecting. Like, the peridexis – the power of wizardy – speaks to Nita in the dream, makes cryptic references to the being that can speak to the Pullulus, and then zaps Nita to her SCHOOL?

Look, that whole sequence was a surprise because it was such a jarring change. But it was jarring because it seemed so random. Why Della Cantrell? Why was Nita having a conversation with a social outcast at her school? Why was this important? The scene was kind of sweet, right up to the point where it wasn’t. Oh, y’all, I was not fucking ready for Della to turn into that thing with the claw and the darkness and I BLAME DIANE DUANE FOR ALL OF THIS. But what does it mean? Was it a manifestation of Nita’s anxieties over being in charge of all wizardry on Earth? MAYBE? Or was someone trying to communicate with her?

All of this was pretty fantastical, but y’all. Nita’s conversation with her father was just… it hurt. See, Duane still manages to ground all of this absurdity in emotions that are real and recognizable, and it’s brilliant. It’s a way to remind us of the emotional stakes of this journey, but it also provides a fascinating juxtaposition. There’s the difference in time, of course: four days have passed for Nita’s dad, while only 8 hours have for the kids. But they’re separated by so much more: time. Ability. Nita has access to wizardry, while her father does not. And that phone call reminded me of that terrifying chasm between them, and that’s why it’s so terribly effective.

Whew, 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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