Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 14, Part II

In the second half of the fourteenth chapter of Wizards at War, I cannot forgive any of you for how you have hurt me. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

I am spent.

Honestly, we had so little of this book left that I thought, “Well, not that much can happen at the end here, right?” OH, FOOLISH MARK, HOW LITTLE YOU KNOW. In just half a goddamn chapter, Diane Duane knocks it out of the park with one of the scariest, most dread-inducing finales. The wizardry didn’t work. I fully expected it to because… well, that’s what is supposed to happen! Thousands of young wizards joined together to shove the Pullulus away in order to buy Earth some time, and I certainly expected this joyous (if challenging) success. That felt like what this was building to. But that first blow against the wizards helped explain why “catastrophic” was in this chapter’s title. Tuyet and Nguyet may have burned themselves out channeling this wizardry, and this is just the first of many things that ruined me.

Duane doesn’t shy away from the cost of fighting the Lone One, and I do appreciate that. It’s no use having stakes within your fiction if you can’t show us why they matter, you know? And in this case, I worried that the young wizards had done too little, too late, despite that the Hesper had been unleashed in the universe and the Lone One was banished from their realm for a brief respite. What if this had taken too long? What if this wasn’t going to end positively?

I couldn’t tell, and it certainly didn’t help that as the Pullulus began to race towards earth, the wizards paid another cost: Roshaun. I have absolutely zero theories as to what happened here because there’s no precedent. There’s no history. There is nothing like this that has ever occurred in the Young Wizards series, so… WHAT THE HELL, Y’ALL. He used that stone’s power and just straight-up disappeared??? How is that even possible? Was he ripped back home? To another reality? Did he die? This isn’t’ like the situation with Ronan, since we at least know his body is still in stasis at the end of this chapter. He is just gone, and what he did to stop the Pullulus also failed.

It’s these two events that bring the reader to a horrible place of dread and fright. I simply didn’t know what possible solution there was, and Duane wasn’t painting a victorious portrait for us. That sequence where everyone more or less curls up and waits for the inevitable was downright AWFUL. They just sat there in grief over the disappearance of Roshaun, and none of them had any solutions aside from a futile last stand, and then Kit was ordering Ponch to leave and take Carmela with him and IT WAS ALL HEARTBREAK ALL THE TIME.

Of course, I didn’t know Duane was saving the worst for last. Y’all should know how I feel about dogs at this point, and it shouldn’t be a surprise that the easiest way for me to feel even half of an emotion is to just put a dog in a scene. Ponch has been, throughout this series, a very dependable character, both in the sense that he is reliable, but also because I know he’s gonna be in these books. Duane has grown him as a character, too, in ways I rarely understood because wizardry is such a complicated thing. Still, it wasn’t a surprise; we’d seen how wizardry had shaped him for a long while. Even within this very book, Ponch was on the precipice of something, right?

Now I understand why it was so important that we learn about the Choice that dogs made long, long ago. Secretly, this whole book was about Ponch’s eternal struggle as a dog to figure out his place in the world, and it’s here, on the Moon, that he makes that final transformation INTO THE ONE’S CHAMPION BUT FOR DOGS. And look, I’m not gonna sit here and say I’m “thrilled” that Ponch is gone because I CRIED, I COULD NOT HELP IT. But if you’re going to have a huge sacrifice from one of the characters, simultaneously having them ascend to godhood is a pretty neat. Regardless, though, this was emotionally catastrophic, one of the most bittersweet endings to a book I’ve read in ages. I can help but feel hurt by Ponch leaving, even though I don’t think this is the last that I’ve seen of him. (Well, at least in this form, that is.) Ponch’s sacrifice not only gave Dogs a new path in the world, but he stopped the Pullulus from extinguishing Earth’s sun.

This is immense. I HAVE A LOT TO THINK ABOUT and the book isn’t even over!!!

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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