Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 9, Part I

In the first half of the ninth chapter of Wizards at War, the group plots their next plan to find the Instrumentality. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Trigger Warning: For arachnophobia and spiders.

This book got real dark and bleak and I AM SCARED. Y’all, this chapter features Diane Duane taking an already hectic situation and then perpetually escalating it to levels of awful worse than the one before. Actually, to demonstrate how quickly this escalates, let me list it quite plainly for y’all. At the start of this chapter, our characters are basically hovering of Reshah because being on the ground is a never-ending nightmare zone. Each of them has their own manual open and is doing research, and HERE IS WHAT THE READER LEARNS:

  1. Rashah is ARESH-HAV, an acronym for a much longer term in the Speech that means that this world is “lost,” aka SO FAR GONE FROM EVER BEING SAVED THAT ALL HOPE HAS BEEN “LOST.”
  2. Also, literally in the next sentence, we find out that this also means that if the Powers that Be decide to intervene, they risk KILLING EVERY LIVING THING IN THE WORLD.
  3. I feel like that’s a terrifying set-up, y’all, but oh no, this is not enough for Diane Duane. I’m gonna quote it: “…winters that were simply one long, supremely violent hurricane.” WHO ASKED FOR THIS. WHY WOULD YOU HURT THIS PLANET SO BADLY. WHAT DID IT EVER DO TO YOU.
  4. Oh, wait, there’s another paragraph that introduces “topflyers,” one of the only animal species on the planet that live above the dense jungles on Reshah, and they eat literally anything that ever pokes its head above the top layer of the forest. SWEET. THAT’S GREAT.
  5. Look, we’re not even close to being done. The Yaldiv. They’re the only intelligent species on the planet, and that means those horrific spider NOPES have thought. Granted, it’s more of a collective consciousness closer to something like the Borg, but is that comforting? No. Of course not. No one ever is comforted by that.
  6. Let’s take it further, since Duane wants to torment me. The Yaldiv are split into two major “cities” or hives that have been in a perpetual war with one another for millions of years. I got tired typing that, and I’m not even IN this war.
  7. Fuck you, we’re still not done, because THERE IS PLUTONIUM RESIDUE ON THIS PLANET AND THAT MEANS THAT THERE WAS ONCE A “MORE DEVELOPED CIVILIZATION” THERE THAT “DEGRADED” AFTER THEY BOMBED ONE ANOTHER TO OBLIVION. You realize that means Duane imagined  what would comprise the “oblivion” that existed after a nuclear armageddon??? HELP ME.
  8. “And here’s something else that’s kind of nasty.” ARE YOU FUCKING TELLING ME THAT NOTHING BEFORE THIS WAS KIND OF NASTY. Oh, now Duane is just teasing me. What’s that nasty thing? Yeah, the Yaldiv all contain an “aware” part of the Lone One’s soul.
  9. HAHA AHDF AHA AHA AH AHA AHA AH YOU’RE KIDDING ME. So it’s like a species of overshadowed creatures, right?
  10. It’s rather worse than that, the One’s Champion said. And rather more permanent. They’re all avatars.” OH, OKAY, THANKS FOR ESCALATING THAT FURTHER, TOO. THAT’S DEFINITELY WHAT I NEEDED.
  11. GUESS WHAT. The Yaldiv, since they contain part of the Lone One’s soul, can observe and detect pretty much every single possible wizardry. Sweet, let’s make these hellish murder beasts practically invulnerable, too, that is exactly what I wanted.

That’s just in the first few pages, my friends, and I know most of y’all have read this, but I needed to write it down because it truly spells out how Duane raises the stakes IN A VERY SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME. It’s astounding to experience because it sets up this conflict in a way that makes it seem impossible, and I love this specific trope in genre works. Half the fun is seeing how a group of people can put their skills together to come up with a way to solve the problem, and that’s certainly one of the things that happens here. First, there’s a brilliant reference to an element of Wizard’s Holiday within one of the solutions. Filif learned how to create a wizardry that’s between a “seeming” and a shapechange. The mochteroof has a fascinating origin: Filif’s desire to maintain a human shape while in public on Earth. I WAS SO SATISFIED WITH THIS BACKSTORY, Y’ALL. I also feel like mochteroofs can be used in situations aside from this one!

Just when I felt a burst of hope, however, Duane had to then send a black could to rain over me, and that cloud laughed at me as it drenched me. The reveal that none of the adults on Earth are responding to anything freaks me out. I continue to assume the worst, y’all: that the dark matter expansion has now fully incapacitated Earth’s population of adults. Didn’t Tom and Carl warn the young wizards that apathy would eventually affect all these people? My god, it’s happening, isn’t it?

I’m glad that there’s a tentative plan in place for the other characters to hide amongst the Yaldiv, but I’m not particularly comforted by anything here. It’s all gonna go to hell, isn’t it? What if the Yaldiv can still detect them? What if Nita goes home to find something worse than what either of us have anticipated? What about Dairine, who is still on her way to find her sister and friends with some sort of horrible news?

This book is personally hurting me, I’ve decided.

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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