Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 12, Part II

In the second half of the twelfth chapter of Wizards at War, Hesper speaks. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Y’all, I really, truly enjoy these books. They’re doing so much that I haven’t seen before, but even when Duane dips into mainstays of fantasy and science fiction, she still makes them seem fresh. Like, I’m in the midst of watching ALL OF THE STAR TREK, and this transformation reminded me of characters on The Next Generation and Voyager teaching ex-Borg about the identification of self. Duane pulls off an amazing thing here, though, that I’d not seen elsewhere: that third person collective pronoun construction that the Yaldiv use. They consider themselves a part of a whole, but it goes further than that. In addition to using “these,” “those,” and “this,” the Yaldiv have a fourth pronoun: “it.” That word denotes something very specific:

Vessels was a different word in the Yaldiv language than the simple female form. And the it pronoun simply meant that the creature using it was just a thing, of no value except as it contributed to the glory of the Great One.

These creatures aren’t human, so I know using the word “dehumanized” isn’t exactly right, but it’s the closest thing I could find. They’re stripped of their personhood because they’re taught to believe of themselves as something to be used. It’s one bit of brainwashing that the text explores, of course, because there’s also Memeki’s fear of these strangers due to her being taught to fear certain words. Well, it’s more like an intrinsic fear, like an instinct, then something she was sat down an taught. Anything that identifies her as an individual, as a person, as someone worthy of respect or attention, terrifies her. She’s never known anything but subjugation her entire existence!

For what it’s worth – and it’s worth a lot to me – Diane Duane treats Memeki with a delicacy and tenderness throughout her scene in this chapter. We are not meant to judge her for growing up in such a harsh environment. When she recoils in fear, Duane makes sure we understand why rather than paint her as someone irrational. And it’s through Ponch that Memeki experiences her first bout of kindness. I can’t imagine anything more perfect than the Best Dog Ever giving Memeki a dog biscuit for the first time. IT’S SO PURE, Y’ALL. But Memeki needs that, and I’m so glad these people eased her into this situation rather than pressured her to do something that she wasn’t comfortable with. Truthfully, I’m not sure I can imagine what an existence like this would be like, but Duane gives enough information so we can try to empathize with her.

Take the scene where she reveals that she was spoken to by the One. (Or perhaps the Instrumentality, I suppose.) The very fact that she was addressed as “you” was a revolution to her, and instead of feeling empowered, she was frightened. These ideas were dangerous, as close to a blasphemy as you could get in a culture like this. Yet her world didn’t fall apart once this being’s words came true and she met all the Young Wizards. Because they’re so nice and respectful to her, she’s more inclined to believe that they’re present to help her.

To do what, exactly? Duane is keeping mum on that point, and I honestly don’t have a single clue as to what might “unlock” Hesper. Will that involve a physical transformation, or will it be more like the Champion living inside Ronan? Probably the latter, right? Look, I don’t know. Memeki seems receptive to the idea of bringing about a change to her people, so at least they’ve gotten that far.

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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