Young Wizards (Duane)

Next up:”So You Want to Be a Wizard”, “Deep Wizardry”, “High Wizardry”, “A Wizard Abroad”, “The Wizard’s Dilemma”, “A Wizard Alone”, “Wizard’s Holiday”, “Wizards at War”, “A Wizard of Mars”, and “Games Wizards Play” by Diane Duane.

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Okay, so these books are very near and dear to my heart (my site url and my username ‘madreen rua’ comes from the fourth book).  This is going to be a long review, partly because of that, and partly because there are a fair number of books and a lot of ground to cover.

First thing I should say is that there is quite a gap between the first four books and the rest– “A Wizard Abroad” was published in 1993, and “The Wizard’s Dilemma” come out in 2001.  Because the books are set (basically) in our world, this created some timeline inconsistencies, though they aren’t anything big– mostly references to things that are now outdated.  The author did revise the first four books to better fit the timeline, and you can buy those “New Millennium” editions as ebooks on her web store.  Duane has also said that the NMEs might be properly published some time in the future.  Duane also has some short stories set in the YW universe available on the web store as well.

The series is ongoing– “Games Wizards Play” was only just released in February (I haven’t even had the chance to read it!).  

Summary

The Universe was made by The One, with the assistance of the Powers That Be.  The Powers are creators and managers of Life, under the One’s direction… Except for the Lone Power.  Wishing to create something new and unique, the Lone Power made death and entropy, setting Itself as an enemy of Life.  The Lone Power was cast out, and the Powers That Be and the One created wizards to help combat the effects of Its creations.  Likely candidates to wizardry are offered the opportunity to undergo an Ordeal– complete it, and they come into their power as wizards.  Failure generally results in death.  Entering into the battle against entropy and the Lone Power is not something to be done lightly.

In “So You Want to Be a Wizard”, Juanita ‘Nita’ Callahan is running from bullies when she takes refuge in her town’s public library.  As she hides in the stacks, her hand is snagged by a particular book… “So You Want to Be a Wizard.”  At first, Nita thinks it is a joke, but as she reads more of it, she becomes increasingly curious and interested.  What if it isn’t a joke?  She finds the Wizard’s Oath in the pages– the words that, if spoken aloud, would begin her introduction into wizardry.  She reads them, and in short order, finds herself speaking to trees and making friends with a boy in her grade who has also recently taken the Oath– Christopher ‘Kit’ Rodriguez.  When a spell they attempted together has an unexpected outcome, they are thrust into their Ordeal, a dangerous path that leads into an alternate New York City where the Lone Power rules…

This series generally revolves around Nita and Kit.  They are joined by an array of side characters who range from humans to insectoid aliens to sentient pine tree aliens.  Their battle against the Lone Power and Its works takes them clear across the Universe and even into other realities.

My thoughts

I read “Deep Wizardry” in elementary school, because it was about magic and whales and dolphins.  At the time, I wasn’t aware it was part of a series, but I didn’t find it difficult to get into despite having not read the first book.  I loved the book, and in very short order, bought the other three (at that point there were only four books to the series).  I have read these books so many times it is probably ridiculous.  I greet any animal I come across with “dai stihó”.  My concept of heaven is pretty much Timeheart.  And do you have any idea how many times I have read the Wizard’s Oath out loud, just in case it actually works?  Out of every and any magic system in any book series I have ever read, I want the Young Wizards magic to be real the most.  These books have had such a huge impact on me, the way I view the world, and religion, and life.

Part of why I love the series so much is that it is rooted so firmly in science, even though it is about wizards.  This is a series that is in that middle ground between scifi and fantasy.  The magic is definitely very scientific bend to it, which can be evident when you look at the technical terms used in the series– “temporospatial claudication”, “actuator word”.  But it also has a bookworm-ish element– wizardry is done through the Speech, the language that everything (even inanimate objects) can understand, and so being good with words– having a love of words– is a trait shared by most wizards.  Not only that, but wizardry as a whole is so high-minded.  It exists to save lives.  It exists purely as a force of good.  The Wizard’s Oath is basically a modified Hippocratic Oath– “In Life’s name and for Life’s sake…”  I love it.  I love it so much.

The books are wonderfully progressive, too, with a wide array of characters from many minority groups.  One of the characters is autistic and African American, there are gay characters, Kit’s family is Latino and bilingual… the list goes on.  It’s great, populating the book ‘verse with realistic characters even if some of them might not be human.

There is a lot of ground covered by the series.  Unsurprising, really, considering wizardry can take you across the universe, or even into the multiverse.  But even beyond setting, the themes and the tone have great breadth.  The series is about responsibility, sacrifice, loss, growing up, it’s about hope, redemption, friendship, life.  It is so wonderful and meaningful and fun.

Rating

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7/7 glowing stars

Warnings

none

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