In the third part of the first chapter of “On Ordeal: Roshaun,” IT’S HAPPENING. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
I know we’ve seen parts of the royal palace on Wellakhit before, but this is a much more complete view of the place and what it’s like to live there. So it’s pretty cool that Duane still captures that sense of being an aimless, angsty teenager, despite that this setting is otherwise completely unrecognizable. Well, I guess if you grew up in some sort of ridiculous mansion full of servants in livery… invite me over? Just give me a room for free, I’M DOWN WITH THAT.
Anyway, I know the worst “angst” has a general negative connotation to it, which is unfortunate because it’s a word I enjoy a great deal. It implies a sense of anxiety that’s borne of this desire for change. Rho absolutely wants a different life: one without the pressures and responsibilities of being Sunborn. One without the expectations of his servants or without the sense that he’s nothing more than an extra place setting at the dinner table. He wants a world free from his loneliness. His restless wandering. His sense that his whole life is planned for him, and he’ll have no choice in what to do.
And, he’s ket mawhir. It’s easy to see that as the main source of his ongoing anxiety, though I don’t want to ignore the way his trauma intersects with this. It unsettles him throughout this chapter, even when he’s far, far from it. (But is he far from it? There’s that casual reveal that doors are shut behind the Sunborn so that it is harder to people to reach them. Even in quiet, unassuming moments, Roshaun is reminded of the life he has to live.) But I can tell that being passed over for wizardry eats at Rho more than anything else. As he lazes about his room, I got this sense that he knew his life would be difficult. He might be unhappy. He might wish for anything else. But all of it would be worse because he had no wizardry. He would be amongst one of the very few ket mawhir Sunborn to ever have to protect his world from the sun. It’s like… you know what??? It’s like salt in a wound, the rotten cherry on top of all of Rho’s unhappiness.
And really, that’s the big thing that I took away from the first chapter of this story: Roshan seems real unhappy. There’s virtually no joy in any of this, aside from glimpses of it in memories. In particular, that very brief scene where Rho’s parents have a gentle argument on the balcony is a powerful one. He doesn’t hate his parents at all! He actually loves them a great deal and you can tell. So, it’s really cool that Duane avoids a common trope to instead focus on this sense that Roshaun deeply, deeply wants more.
HE IS ABOUT TO GET IT, TOO!!! That’s a neat element to this story, too. The reader already knows that Roshaun is a powerful, talented wizard, so it’s a trip to see him so down on himself, so certain that he’ll never be able to do anything important or meaningful. YOU HAVE NO IDEA, ROSHAUN. But this outlook is important, especially for teens who feel trapped or like they’re stuck in impossible situations. I definitely felt this way, and I’ve written openly about it for years. And guess what? I found a way out. I found a way to escape, to be myself, and to find happiness.
I am now very invested in seeing how Roshaun does the same.
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