Mark Reads ‘On Ordeal: Ronan’ – Chapter 5

In the fifth and final chapter of “On Ordeal: Ronan,” the Powers are pleased, and Ronan is overjoyed. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to finish Young Wizards. 

Oh, Ronan. I have to admit that this is a nice bit to end my Young Wizards readthrough on. (And yes, we have at least one Feline Wizards book coming up next, but more on that in a second.) More so than the other “On Ordeal” stories, there’s a great recap of major events in the series, and it provided me a chance to reflect on this complicated, emotional story. Granted, it’s through Ronan, rather than Nita and Kit, who we spent the most time with. But still! The One’s Champion! The Pullulus! Rashah!  So much has happened, and these people have changed, and I WASN’T READY.

But it’s also fascinating that my journey ends here because we still get that sense of the cyclical journey, the endless (but meaningful!) slog towards conflict. Chapter five opens with a conversation between the Lone One and the One’s Champion, and elements of it are familiar to those of us who have read the whole series. The Lone One believes all are corruptible, that all of existence deserves to decay and perish. And it’s been their mission to exploit living things everywhere in any way that they can. Yet it’s all the way at the end of this read that I got to the BEST summary of the Lone One’s failure thus far: 

You just want to be right. To have been right. And you weren’t! Way back when, in that first moment of the new order, of your own will you made yourself all the things that weren’t right—became the source of them, the fountainhead. You know it, too. But you keep telling yourself that the unfairness isn’t your fault, when in fact you invented it. It’s a pity you can’t face that truth… because that would be the start of your journey back home. 

WELL, HOLY SHIT. And the Champion isn’t wrong! But that’s why the Lone One suffers from their own arrogance; they literally cannot recognize themselves as the cause of what they currently despise. (And now I’m thinking about how the Lone One eventually does make a few admissions in the series and THERE ARE SO MANY LITTLE CLUES AND NODS IN THIS CHAPTER.) They underestimated Ronan at every time, and he survived.

Actually, that’s not even the best word for what Ronan accomplished. He thrived. I know I’ve said this in various ways a lot when talking about the “On Ordeal” stories, but they are all SO DIFFERENT. And here, while Ronan might share an exuberance with Roshaun, you get a sense of Ronan’s pure joy at getting to be a wizard. Unlike Roshaun, Ronan never even knew it was a thing he could be! Look how he finds out, too. He’s thrust into a conflict that involves time travel and the kind of big, weighty questions that are ripe for life-changing moments. He was sent on an adventure! A painful, scary one, yes, but an adventure nonetheless!!! So once he’s sent back home, even though he’s sick, even though he has to come up with a bullshit excuse for why he was covered in mud and appeared to have fallen off a cliff, it’s all worth it. Because Ronan Nolan, Jr. is now a wizard!!! It’s a great example of someone’s life changing irrevocably and it being a good thing, rather than a curse. 

Of course, we know just how much fun (and tragedy) Ronan will experience over the course of this series, but it was nice to see his conversation with the Champion via a dream, who appears as Pidge again. (I understand this story better!!! Though it still would have been cool if Pidge really was a wizard.) The story helps ground what we’ll see later, namely that it shows us how this relationship was a mutual thing, that the Champion and Ronan were always destined for greatness. But that greatness came years later, and Duane gives us an intriguing passage of time at the end of this novella. Ronan’s life does indeed change—rapidly at first, then in slow spurts until he cannot recognize it anymore. It comes in busyness. In activity. In the way his routines give way to a sense that he’s now part of something larger and greater than himself, but which also doesn’t diminish himself in the process. He’s still important; he’s still a vital piece of the puzzle in the fight against entropy. And that’s such a great note to end on: you may seem small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, but you are not. You are part of the whole, and the whole does not exist without you.

Ronan became a wizard. That makes him irreplaceable.

So! Onwards, my friends. We shall now read The Book of Night With Moon for Mark Reads. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any interest in the other two Feline Wizard books, so we’ll just do the first one for the time being and I’ll return to the others at a later date. After Book, Mark Reads will just cover Discworld so that we can make good time getting through the remainder of those books! I will most likely wait until I have a few weeks off from travel/writing and bring back double features for a short while in order to cover the other Feline Wizards books.


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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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