Mark Reads ‘A Wizard of Mars’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of A Wizard of Mars, Kit looks forward to the start of summer vacation. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards. 

This is so deliberately normal that it scares me.

Normal is, of course, quite relative. For those of us who went to schools like this, we all know the restless anxiety that settles in our bones as the school year winds down. I know the suffering that comes from attending a school with budget problems and the terror of not having air conditioning. I am also learning over the past month just how oppressive humidity is, and I’d like to punch the person who invented it right in the face. Duane writes with familiarity in this first chapter, and that applies to the wizardry, too! Relative to his classmates, Kit’s wizardry might not be normal, but it is to the reader. His use of wizardry is gentle and recognizable, and it had honestly been so long since we’d seen such a simple bit of magic that I felt calmed by it.

So why open A Wizard of Mars this way? After the traumatic events of Wizards at War, I found this to be a fascinating way to ease the reader back into this world. It’s the end of the school year, Kit’s worried about his grades, and we know why he’s concerned. Given what’s happened in the past semester alone was enough to overwhelm anyone, and yet, Kit still buckled down and got it done. It’s through this that we meet who I think is the first non-wizardly friend of Kit’s: Raoul. He’s the person Kit ended up studying with the most after his grades started to slip, and I appreciated that Duane gave us this slice of Kit’s life. Yes, I’m very interested in why Mars is important to this book, but Duane grounds Kit in the non-wizard world so firmly here, reminding us that he has to live amidst people who will never know who he really is or what he really does.

Again, though, it’s not like Duane forgets that Kit is a wizard, and he does his daily good deed by convincing the broken air conditioning system to work again. (I still love that wizardry works through consent and permission, by the way.) We also learn that he’s got a camouflage spell on his manual so that he can pull it out in class and it’ll look like an everyday textbook. I AM JEALOUS.

So, what I’m curious about aside from that message in Kit’s manual at the end of the chapter: What’s the deal with Mr. Mack? I don’t actually believe that he is going to play a part in the novel, but I suspect that there’s a reason it was so important for Duane to write about Kit’s (possible) blooming into a history nerd. It felt important, but of course, we’re at the very start of A Wizard of Mars. I’m grasping at any little detail here. Maybe the whole light/dark bit? Maybe the bottle message is more important? MAYBE I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT.

That’s probably it.

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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