In the second half of the fifth chapter of Wizards at War, Roshaun faces his most difficult challenge yet: his father. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.
The second half of this chapter is so emotionally dense, and I can’t get over how Duane does this in such a relatively short amount of space. This is the first time we are meeting Roshaun’s father, Nelaid, and yet I feel like we’ve known him this whole time. How does Duane do this? WHAT SORCERY IS THIS?
It’s not, of course, and her craft succeeds here because she gives us so many contextual clues to help us understand Nelaid before we ever meet him. That helps us understand the significance of the end result of this meeting, and thus, we get an entire story in just a few thousand words.
For example: the second half of this chapter opens with a key physical sign that we should be nervous. Roshaun’s palms are sweating. This character has been built up over the course of Wizard’s Holiday and the opening of this book as someone who is staunch in their resolve. They don’t get flustered, they always have their shit together, and they’re often an arrogant asshole. Here, however, Duane reveals another side of Roshaun, one that paints him as vulnerable and oh-so-very human. As soon as that happened, I was incredibly nervous. If something spooked Roshaun this much, then I had every reason to believe that I was about to experience a nightmare.
Then, Duane builds the scene. This takes place in the highest single point in the palace, and then, I expected grandeur, the same sort of ridiculous detail we saw in Roshaun’s room. NOPE. It’s a “severely plain” great hall that just has ONE CHAIR. Or throne. However you’d refer to it! THAT’S IT. And in that throne is Nelaid, Roshaun’s father, and y’all, I expected the worst. No good could come of this, right? As the two of them began to speak, every line seemed like it was loaded with some horrible meaning. Were the two of them insulting each other in such a subtle manner that I couldn’t pick up on it? How long would this formal politeness last until one of them snapped at the other one? Actually, I was certain this was that part.
“Well, son,” he said, “you were not long in donning the Sunstone, as is your right. This only remains to complete the accession.” And he glanced at the chair.
Roshaun swallowed again. “I wanted to talk to you about that,” he said.
NO NOPE IT’S OVER ABANDON SHIP. Because right? I was convinced that Nelaid would never let his son live this down. How could he? He’s supposed to take his rightful spot on the throne, not leave Wellakh with some stranger to go galavant through space.
However, Duane does a fascinating thing here: she gives Roshaun and Nelaid character growth instead of going with the obvious. Like I have said multiple times, I prepared myself for a fight. While there’s a lot of dramatic tension here, it instead speaks to the wealth of history between these two characters. It gives them depth, which is something we needed to fully appreciate the transformation. Roshaun admits that his father’s advice is correct; Nelaid admits that he must allow his son to make his own choices. Now, I don’t want this to make it seem like there wasn’t any conflict here because, again, until the end of their conversation, I thought any given sentence would erupt into a fight. THIS WAS A VERY TENSE SEQUENCE.
If anything, this made me realize that Roshaun might be young, but he’s not a kid anymore. All the talk of being a prince didn’t really hit me, and I always saw him as an annoying teenager who was used to power and privilege. Yet Roshaun’s situation is so much more complicated than that. He avoided an assassination attempt because he was on excursus with Dairine! THAT IS A LOT TO HANDLE. But it’s his life now. It’s the kind of shit he’ll have to deal with from here on out. I’m thankful, then, that he’s got his mother and father on his side to help him. Seriously, that last image, of Nelaid embracing his son in front of the crowd, was powerful, a clear sign that Roshaun has his father’s faith while he embarks on this new journey. Again: all of this transpired in a few thousand words. Amazing.
I am thrilled to confirm that I will be a Guest at CrossingsCon 2017! Badges are now available, so COME HANG OUT WITH ME THIS SUMMER.
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