In the second half of the fourth chapter of “On Ordeal: Ronan,” Ronan completes his intervention. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
Trigger Warning: For brief discussion of slavery
I’m so proud of Ronan, and I say that knowing that Ronan had to succeed at his Ordeal. Indeed, each of these story had an endpoint that the audience knew, and Duane still managed to build a believable sense of suspense despite that. We didn’t know the details, though, and those details are crucial. Even if Ronan succeeded in saving those people, what price would he have to pay? Had he saved all of them or just the most that he could?
So Ronan’s struggle becomes about that price here in the end as he finally finishes naming everything involved with this wizardry, but then must face the enacture of it. As Duane notes in the text here (and has said multiple times in the past) the act of committing to a wizardry is as important—if not more important—than the preparation for it. And every second matters! Can he do it?
…Ronan could feel that vast mass of calm already starting to weigh him down into compliance. And the longer he took about what he was going to do, the less chance there was that he’d ever come back from it.
So how does Ronan push through that? Well, he’s the kind of character who is dealt a challenge and feels something close to a compulsion to meet it. We’ve seen that so many times from him! He’s not likely to back down from a fight, though this is admittedly less of a fight and more of a negotiation. How will he convince the Sea to do as he wants? Well, he takes a route I didn’t expect, though its one I found satisfying as a reader. It makes sense that the Sea would have a sort of emotional memory, especially if it is of memories that are wholesome, loving, and appreciative. That’s how Ronan manages to make a connection with something older and more powerful than he’ll ever be. When the Sea examines Ronan and plucks out a memory of his Nan, frolicking in the ocean, a bridge forms between these two entities. And it is odd to think about that as a concept, but not in this context. If all things are alive in their own way, they were bound to have similarities.
Thus, he just convinces the Sea to spare the lives of the people on that ship because to someone, maybe far, far away, those people mean something to another person. And while I understand the importance of this for Ronan’s journey, I do have to wonder how the Powers justify this act if the people who are being saved have dealt so much suffering and misery to other living beings. Like, is that a moral act, then? Slavers do not add anything of value to a society that isn’t based on greed and power, so, by saving them, did Ronan increase entropy or decrease it?
We don’t really get a sense for that. There is a long section at the end of this chapter that details out the paths that those sixteen people took, and only one of them is explored in any detail. They lived; they died; they affected people on a local scale; and one of them affected a wizard hundreds of years into the future. For Ronan, however, his test was a success. Even as the weight of his wizardry figuratively and literally pressed down on him, threatening to crush the life from his body, he still refused to let them die. In that sense, I feel like Ronan’s lesson was learned. He saved lives because lives are inherently worth saving. And the price he pays is immediate and painful, too! He plunges from his spot above Bray Head and crashes to the ground, injuring himself in the process. Duane cuts away before we learn the full consequences, but I assume he was transported back to his time, and I assume that his injuries are going to be real.
And I’m certain Ronan would do it all over again, given the chance.
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