Mark Reads ‘Games Wizards Play’: Chapter 6, Part II

In the second half of the sixth chapter of Games Wizards Play, Dairine meets with Mehrnaz to discuss her wizardry. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read Young Wizards


I am guessing that a lot of you figured that I’d project all over this character, since elements of her characterization invoke things I’ve written about myself many times before. I grew up as the “gifted” kid who doubted himself, despite that I was talented. I simply couldn’t see it. Now, Duane hides the reason why Mehrnaz is the way she is, and I don’t really have much of a guess, at least not a substantial one. When we meet her, she’s bubbly, kind, excited, and practices a bit of hero-worship with Dairine. But here, in her home in Mumbai, Dairine discovers SO MUCH MORE ABOUT HER, and I adore the way she is coming together before our eyes. As I read this chapter, I was impressed at Mehrnaz’s proficiency, at her creativity, at her CLEAR FUCKING DOMINANCE of geomancy. And look, it’s not like there have been a ton of geomancers in this series! I think we only heard about it maybe once prior to this?

Point being: I am not an expert at this, it’s still a new concept within Young Wizards, and yet Duane makes it clear that Mehrnaz is incredible. So where does the conflict come, then? Initially, I thought that it might be due to Merhnaz’s idolization of Dairine. I could see that being a compelling interpersonal conflict. But then this happened:

“Well, it’s time this got into other people’s minds, too.”

“It’s nice of you to say that.” Mehrnaz sat down on a nearby hassock and looked out across the spell diagram the way someone looks across a landscape they’re only visiting but would like to live in. “There’s only one problem.” She sighed deeply. “It’s not going to happen.”

It’s an inversion of Penn’s characterization, sure, but it also felt so striking to me because it came virtually unprompted. Why would she say something like that? Why would she insult herself or devalue herself immediately after Nita complimented her?

It’s not the only moment like this in the chapter, either. And I enjoyed that Dairine picked up on it so quickly, too! Dairine is not one to view herself as powerless or without hope, and it makes me think that the Powers sent her to Mehrnaz on purpose. Mehrnaz’s esteem is so very, very low, and that doesn’t just develop out of nowhere, does it? Dairine realizes that!!! Someone or something in Mehrnaz’s life has helped convince her that there is a reason she won’t make it to the Culling. I have vague theories at this point, and I say this as someone who had a controlling, restrictive, and abusive parent: there is probably someone in Mehrnaz’s family who has helped make this a reality. RIGHT??? Someone criticizes her, or tells her that her contributions aren’t worthy, and I’M PREDICTING THAT WE WILL MEET THAT PERSON.

Am I jumping to conclusions? Oh, probably, because THIS IS LITERALLY WHAT I DO FOR A LIVING. But I have a little confidence because of what Duane has written. Dairine is VERY observant, perhaps more so than anyone else in the series. She picks up on the odd vibe from Mehrnaz, and it’s spelled out through Dairine’s thoughts. So, I don’t suspect that Duane did this as a red herring. SOMETHING is going on here. BUT WHAT IS IT???

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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