Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 13, Part III

In the third part of the thirteenth chapter of Wizards at War, the group makes progress until they do not, and then I am not okay. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards

Cousins, I am overwhelmed. Just for context: I am writing this review on May 11. By the time this goes live, I will have already moved to New York, but it also means that I have not merely been cliffhanger’d by just a week. Oh no, look at that date. LOOK HOW LONG I WILL HAVE HAD TO WAIT. So that definitely affected my perception of this chapter. As things went south for these wizards, I kept worrying that I’d be left at some awful point in the narrative. At the same time, I don’t want to ignore how genuinely distressing this was. Right at the exact point that Memeki makes her decision and decides to embrace her role as Hesper, chaos breaks out. It’s a nightmare to read because, as I imagine was the case for some of you, I desperately wanted to see what was going to happen once Memeki made this decision. Instead, we’re torn away from this as the Lone One reveals their deception and the entire group is captured. This isn’t even the big cliffhanger I’m referring to, either! Oh, Duane sure does have these characters do a lot of funny and cute things prior to DESTRUCTION, but even that is overshadowed by what happens here.

The dampening of wizardry is what messed me up first. (There are multiple things.) There’s that line of Nita’s where she makes reference to how upsetting it is to have this dependable element of her life taken away from her, much like how Tom and Carl were “taken” from her, too. That’s now a repetitive motif throughout this book, and I’m impressed by how Duane’s woven it into the narrative. These characters – the young wizards of the titular series – are increasingly forced to rely on themselves instead of any external person or force. And now, that includes their wizardry. Which is so horrifying, isn’t it? They’re wizards. It’s like part of their identity has been stripped from them!

So what the hell do they do? Well, if you’re Roshaun, you drop THE BEST INSULT IN THE WHOLE BOOK:

“Evil ones,” it said, “enemies of the Great One, come and be judged.”

Roshaun lifted his head and gave the Arch-votary an inexpressibly haughty look. “Killed, perhaps,” he said. “But your dark Master has neither authority nor right to judge us. Therefore stand away, lackey, and keep silent in the presence of your betters.”

DOES ANYONE HAVE ANY OINTMENT FOR THAT BURN? ANYONE? Oh my god, I love that Roshaun’s normal arrogance is wielded this way. IT’S SO BEAUTIFUL. There’s some sass from Dairine, as well, and I could see how effective it was for them to be vocal about their disgust: it was like a boost to morale for everyone. However, as entertaining as this was, I was mostly waiting to see what the Lone One would say to Memeki. Did It know who she really was? Would it just destroy her on sight to prevent the Hesper from manifesting?

But that’s too easy, and it’s not that the Lone One prefers difficult solutions; the Lone One needs a person to either give in to Its side, or it needs a being to be broken. Thus, it made perfect sense that Memeki was physically unharmed during this confrontation; you could tell that the Lone One was desperate to make her suffer. Yet during it all, there’s a rebellious spirit within her, like in this exchange:

“Do you not owe all your loyalty to the One who stole the tyrant’s power despite everything it could do, and so made your world free?”

Memeki swayed, swayed, slowly grew still… then looked up. “Free?” She said. “Yes. You made us free.” She was shivering again, and she crouched down as if once again feeling the pangs of the eggs beginning to move inside her. “Free to kill. And free to die.”

It’s the start of her beginning to recognize how this whole system is stacked against her. The conversations she had with her new friends helped her get to this point, sure, but she still has to make the conscious decisions without them. This response is an act of defiance, a chance for her to make it known that she is well aware that she is not actually free in this world. Her declaration that she will be Hester, therefore, is the most powerful moment of her life, not just a rebellion against the Great One, but a declaration of self.

And initially, it doesn’t seem to do anything to the Lone One, who, by the way, SPEEDS UP THE GESTATION PERIOD WITHIN MEMEKI SO THAT SHE’LL GIVE BIRTH SOONER. What the fuck, y’all!!! And then It forces Carmela to come closer to It, and I WAS NOT OKAY WITH ANY OF THIS. Y’all, I just felt so much revulsion for the Lone One, and it’s a strange thing only because… well, it’s not like I have no reason to hate It. It’s done despicable things in the past. Yet as it threatened to force everyone to sit outside of Timeheart for all time, as it pointed out that the Pullulus was already dooming their worlds, I just felt so much hate for this character. Doesn’t the Lone One ever get tired of being so consistently evil???

I guess I’ll have to wait to find out because OF COURSE THIS IS WHERE THE SPLIT ENDS. I have nearly a month to discover what happens next. My damn schedule is conspiring against me!

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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