In the first part of the first chapter of “On Ordeal: Roshaun,” Roshaun despairs over what little choice he has in his own life. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Well, now I just feel sad about Roshaun all over again, and despite knowing large parts of his story, this was… well, it was a lot. It’s easy to imagine other readers relating to Roshaun and the sense of duty that’s been forced upon him, especially if you had the sort of parents who expected a specific path of you. Of course, his life is a rather extreme example of that, and in Wellakh, Duane has constructed a complicated world of friction, wealth, and duty, and it’s all filtered through Roshaun. We’ve never really gotten anything from the point of view of him before, and yet, you can still get a sense that this version of Roshaun has a lot of growing until he reaches the point where we know him.
But I also feel like I already understand him. Duane uses the opening of this chapter to build a sense of isolation in Roshaun. His mother is nearly assassinated, something that’s so common for his parents that it’s just an “event” to them, but you can tell that it eats away at Roshaun. Despite its frequency, it doesn’t feel normal to Roshaun. Truthfully, none of his life does! People don’t befriend him, not even to get close to a Sunborn, so you don’t have the sort of cult of personality aspect you get in our world, for example. It’s a brilliant choice on Duane’s part, and I love how uncomfortable this is. Roshaun and his family might have wealth and some familiar trappings of it, but wealth doesn’t operate exactly the same way that we might recognize it. Yes, there are still plenty of people who long to be rich (or to win the Wellakhit version of the lottery), but that desire doesn’t seem to come with a longing to be Sunborn. Rather, no one seems to want to be these people, even if they’re necessary, even if Wellakh simply can’t exist without the royal wizards.
Thus, Roshaun has a childhood utterly unlike the world that most people might know. Strangely, I found that I could relate to Roshaun’s sadness, his desire for any sort of positive interaction with his peers. I had friends at school, but it wasn’t easy to maintain them because I was not allowed friends outside of class. Until I was sixteen, only one person I ever was friendly with ever came over to my house, and I was never allowed to see anyone else. There’s a dynamic here, then, that’s hard to describe because I just know it intrinsically. It’s like Roshaun is watching the world go by without him. He’s in it, and yes, he has these brief moments where he gets to be part of the flow, but they are punctuated by long stretches of loneliness. Long stretches where Roshaun observes other people going about their lives, and he remains separate and apart from it all. It certainly doesn’t help that where he literally lives is also so drastically separated from the “normal” people of Wellakh. How are the people ever supposed to feel like they can be friends with Roshaun when this is his life?
Seriously, his friendship with Dairine makes so much more sense now that I know more about his upbringing. She doesn’t care that he’s royalty; indeed, she is contemptuous of it most of the time. She enjoys him for who he is. She willingly spends time with him. SHE IS NOTHING LIKE ANYONE HE HAS EVER, EVER KNOWN.
So, I don’t quite remember much of anything about his Ordeal and what it was, so I’m excited to see what comes next!
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