In the first part of the fourteenth chapter of Games Wizards Play, both teams relax after the semifinals. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
So what happens next?
We’re pretty far along in Games Wizards Play, and at this point, I still don’t have the best sense of the shape of this book. There have been a lot of hints that something else is happening alongside the Invitationals, but there are now less than a hundred pages left, and we still haven’t found out what that is. Which isn’t to say that the Invitational isn’t entertaining or engaging. I’ve become HEAVILY invested in both Penn’s and Mehrnaz’s stories. I think Games feels a lot like Lifeboats in that sense. It’s an immersive novel, but it’s a lot more subtle and quiet than many of the other Young Wizards novels. Here, there’s no big antagonist that they’re fighting over, and the main conflict stems from whether or not Penn and Mehrnaz are going to make it to the next round of the Invitational.
But there is a lot of character building present here, and I find that it helps me approach the book from a different perspective. We have delved deep into these two contestants’ lives, for example, and Duane examines the ramifications of the Invitational for other characters, too. We get a chance to see Penn express a GENUINE, ACTUAL COMPLIMENT, which was one of the WILDEST things in this book. But that moment is important! It’s a legitimate step in the right direction for him, you know? Then, there’s Ronan’s new venture in the chocolate business with Carmela, which is a GREAT new development.
AND THEN NITA’S CONVERSATION WITH MATT. There’s a dynamic here I appreciated as a gay man, which is how Duane writes this so that Nita is the one who has the guilt over Matt’s identity, not the other way around. I’ve been on the receiving end of this exact kind of guilt before when people have made the assumption that I’m straight. (Though this usually happens at a distance; almost no one who has had a conversation lasting five minutes or more is under the impression that I am anything but the gayest gay who ever gayed. AND I’M FINE WITH THAT.) They feel sorry they didn’t notice, and they wonder aloud if they’ve ever said anything to me that wasn’t cool, and honestly? You’d probably know if you had. Instead, I’m just trying to live my life. As open and out as I am these days, there really are moments when I never make any reference to being gay, so, like Matt, it just doesn’t come up. Granted, I wasn’t trying to remove a magic spear from someone’s chest, but STILL.
The best thing I recommend to people regarding this guilt is: just be a nice, good person. To everyone. Because when those of us who are LGBT or queer feel safe, we’ll just talk with you about that part of our lives. It won’t be a big production, either! We’ll just be ourselves.
And speaking of being yourself… oh, Dairine. This book has given me the first huge look at the complicated politics of the world of wizardry. Like, I never would have dreamed that Irina would confront Dairine about what Mehrnaz’s aunt said and did. I admit that I am resistant to the idea of Dairine apologizing to her, particularly since that woman deserved to be talked down to. I get why Irina is asking it; she’s been put in a place where Dairine’s actions have had unintended ramifications. At the same time, I respect so much that Dairine demands that someone pay some much-needed attention to Mehrnaz. Look, Dairine can’t be her only support system, you know? That girl needs help. She needs someone on her side! Who is that going to be once the Invitational is over? What happens to Mehrnaz then? I would feel less terrible about Dairine’s apology if this were certain, y’all. I JUST WANT MEHRNAZ PROTECTED FOREVER. AT ALL COSTS. Carmela, too, for that matter. WHY ARE WE MEN SO GROSS. Was Matt participating in that conversation, too, or just spectating? At least he agreed with Kit that they shouldn’t have been talking about Carmela in that manner.
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