Mark Reads ‘Wizards at War’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of Wizards at War, I spent a lot of time yelling NO at this. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards.

Trigger Warning: For a brief section discussing parental abuse.

The irony that I was prepared for Roshaun’s father to flip out on him is not lost on me. I had the right idea BUT THE WRONG PARENT. I wonder if proximity to a dark matter mass affects adults differently because I didn’t see the same apathy in Nelaid. Of course, there wasn’t a timestamp in these scenes, so perhaps the scene in the Crossings happened later than the scenes on Wellakh.

I suppose it’s irrelevant because the content itself is the first real sign we’ve seen that the expansion of space has negatively impacted a person. When the wizards arrive at the Crossings, it was eerily empty. I figured that was because it was night, which you’ll see me discard as an explanation on video. Why would species using the Crossings abide by a diurnal standard? So, in this, we have a separate affect of dark matter. And yes, people are at the heart of that; as Sker’ret notes, peoples all over are pulling in and not leaving their worlds. There are the three human wizards that the group runs into, too, who relate the fate Katahn Empire to them. It’s being torn apart, and the stars at the center of it might destroy the whole thing.

But these are all ideas, abstracts, concepts. Sure, the emptiness of the Crossings is endlessly unnerving, and Duane doesn’t let us forget that. There are numerous times where the text reminds us of what was once normal and what now is. However, it’s the big confrontation between Sker’ret and the Stationmaster of the Crossings that drives this point home. We’d already known that there was some unspoken conflict between these two characters, but Sker’ret had never truly explained what had been happening. Now, we have no idea how long this had began, and I wonder if the Stationmaster had expressed their distaste with Sker’ret’s excursus before they left. If that’s the case, then what we see here is the next step, only exacerbated by dark matter.

It’s upsetting within the context of the book, of course. Sker’ret is doing something honorable, and their decision to accompany Nita, Kit, and the others is also logical. As they put it, they’re abandoning the symptoms of the dark matter incursion in order to try and stop things at the source. That’s a good thing! Yet the Stationmaster has become apathetic, and it was so difficult to read this. They simply gave up. If I hadn’t known about the dark matter affect, I would have been furious at them for calling Sker’ret’s decision a “fool’s errand.” NO, YOU ARE WRONG.

But there was an entirely separate reason here – one I don’t think Duane intended at all – that I was so unbearably uncomfortable reading this. It was definitely awkward to watch the Stationmaster scold and insult Sker’ret while all his friends watched on, and that felt intentional. However, this was one of my mother’s favorite tactics; she loved to invoke other people in order to punish me. The more public she could be, the worse she was. I have never met a person with less shame, y’all. And that’s not a bad thing all by itself! I know I was eventually influenced by this, and it’s why I’ve developed a knack for being public about lots of things: call-outs, criticism, standing up for myself.

Yet I cringed reading this as soon as the Stationmaster walked away and the sheer awkwardness crept back in. The Stationmaster didn’t care that anyone was watching; they just cared about being right, and it took me back, y’all. That’s not a criticism or anything; I just wanted to provide some personal context for why this scene FUCKED ME UP. Whew, it was overwhelming!

As if that wasn’t enough, Duane ends this chapter with something that was existentially haunting: Ponch’s nose brought the group to a lifeless world where dark matter is basically swirling all around it. THERE IS NO SKY. THERE ARE NO STARS. And this is where the group camps to rest up??? Everything about this felt wrong, down to my bones, down to the atoms in my body. Wouldn’t that stuff spread? Oh god, I know that Ronan and the One are standing guard, and I trust them to defend the group, but this still felt so awful to me. Why must you hurt me in this way.

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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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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