In the first part of the seventh chapter of Games Wizards Play, Nita asks Dairine for assistance; Kit worries about the complications of his burgeoning relationship. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I love the potential of all of this. Duane is setting up the pieces for a giant game of chess, and the end result is FEELINGS.
After the first few chapters, I went into this book believing the main conflict for these characters would be their struggle to get their mentees up to speed. The Invitationals loomed so huge over the story that they felt big enough by themselves. But now, I find myself drawn to the interpersonal conflict between these characters WAY MORE than the actual competition itself. It’s a genuine surprise in this story, and I WANT TO KNOW HOW THEY’RE ALL GOING TO WORK OUT THE MULTIPLE COMPLICATED ISSUES THEY’VE BEEN DEALT.
In Nita’s case, she’s been given a mentee who is talented and creative, but he is… a challenge. Which honestly feels like an understatement, y’all. Despite that Kit and Nita have been fairly open with him about his shortcomings, he doesn’t seem to get it! And I quote:
…Kit had spent a total of nearly eight hours over two days getting him to fill in the multiple sketchy, incomplete, or half baked parts of his coronal management spell, while Nita prowled around the edges ignoring penn’s smart remarks and inept attempts to get on her good side.
He’s not changing, is he? He still sees Nita as a threat, as competition, as inadequate, or some messy combination of these three things! How the hell can you possibly get this guy to learn anything? And from what we learn here, it doesn’t sound like he’s willing to learn because he’s not aware he has anything he needs to fix. Nita and Kit have such a huge obstacle to overcome, and it feels so impossible. IT’S AWARENESS. This kid isn’t even aware of how much work he has and how much he needs to improve his behavior.
I do wonder how much of that has to do with his isolation. We still don’t know if this is due to external factors or if he just prefers doing things alone. And that’s certainly not a bad or negative thing! I consider myself pretty damn independent. I hated group projects growing up, I was living on my own at 16, and I’m used to not relying on other people. But I suspect that, like Mehrnaz, there’s something else going on here. How has Penn not ever gone on errantry with another wizard? Or do small wizardries for a hobby? Or travel while using wizardry? These all seem like things anyone would leap at the chance to do, especially the part about traveling to other worlds.
That being said, that doesn’t invalidate who he is as a wizard. It’s different, sure, but again: not inherently bad. But perhaps his problems partially come from the fact that he’s not used to working with anyone. (I can’t blame it all on that; he’s still mean as shit to Nita.) Now that he’s forced into a situation where he has to compromise and cooperate with two other people, we’re seeing just how difficult that is for him.
MAYBE. I still don’t know!
I appreciated that Nita asked Dairine to accompany her to the practice universe, in part because I suspect she needs someone else to validate her perception of Penn. But I’m also interesting to see how this will affect Kit and Nita. This chapter does a really cool thing during Kit’s POV: it largely focuses on all the complicated “rules” of a romantic relationship. And since Kit and Nita have been quieter and more contained about each other, other people in their lives are reacting strangely to that. Does Penn suspect or know that they are a couple? Does Dairine look at them different? Hell, will she look at them differently once she’s fully aware of everything? (I suspect she knows more than she’s letting on.)
It’s yet another angle to this that isn’t readily discussed, and I love that it is here. Duane touches on peer pressure, misunderstanding, and feeling isolated from your peers, all things that, despite the contextual details, a person would probably be able to relate to. Obviously, we weren’t worrying about how to address rumors by telling our classmates that we were wizards. (IF ONLY.) But how many of us have dealt with the confusing rush of emotions over experiencing intimacy or affection? THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT THIS ALL IS. Kit hasn’t ever dealt with any of this stuff, you know?
Then there’s the Ponch-sized punch in the heart. THANKS FOR THAT, DIANE DUANE.
Mark Links Stuff