The Wizard’s Dilemma, by Diane Duane

JacketWelp, this one took me a long time to finish.  I’m still not quite sure how that happened.  Part of it was that I started the book while I had far too many things on my plate and thus got distracted.  But part of it was that at a certain point in The Wizard’s Dilemma, I felt like I could see where all of the pieces were, where they needed to go, and had a pretty good idea of how they were going to get there… and I really wanted them to just be there already, instead of making me wait.  I suspect that this is the price I pay for reading so much.  Or perhaps for being impatient.

It turns out that I was right about most of those various story beats, but seeing what Diane Duane did with them was far more satisfying than what I’d imagined.  I probably should have seen that coming, given that I’ve read the earlier books in the series and know how good Duane is at her work.  Once I finally got over my block and moved into the last parts of the book, I didn’t want to put it down.  And then, of course, the climax made me cry.  Whatever the real reasons for my reading delays, I feel quite certain in saying that this was an excellent book, one worth reading, worth recommending, and one that leaves me wanting to read the next one in the series.  Just like the previous books in the series.  I probably could have seen that coming too.

So, why the heck did this book make me cry?

I suspect that anyone who does not entirely hate their parents, or even anyone who feels close to those who are edging towards or having a brush with death, will find this book powerful.  Certainly the ending of it, at the very least.  I’m not sure how much of the emotional content of this book comes from my own experience with coming to terms with death and dying, how much of it is simply me empathizing with the characters, and how much of it is inherent to the material.  One way or another, I continue to be impressed by the regularity with which Duane is able to write accessibly emotional and intense material.

Ok, there’re going to be some *SPOILERS* here, because I want to talk about the end of the book.

I’m pleased as punch about the line of argument / line of reasoning that Nita’s mom takes when facing the Lone Power.  Her statements of self-ownership, and calling the Lone Power out on its sense of entitlement with regards to her body, are like a breath of fresh air.  This is exactly the kind of thing that I want kids to be reading and internalizing.

This is mostly unrelated, but it’s especially refreshing to see these statements shown in such a positive light after having just watched John Wick the night before; that movie is a brilliant display of stunt and fight choreography and performance, something I love due to my own experience with same, but it is a terrible (i.e. it instills terror) view of the patriarchy in action.  I doubt you’ll have the same experience of watching John Wick and then finishing The Wizard’s Dilemma, but their juxtaposition makes their differences all the more visible and highlighted the novel’s excellence for me.

*END OF SPOILERS*

In conclusion?  This is a damn fine book, and my troubling delays in reading it probably had more to do with me than with the novel.  You’d be silly to pass it up without checking it out, though I basically feel that way about the whole Young Wizards series at this point.  And, let’s be honest, you might be thrown for a loop trying to start here without reading the rest of them, so don’t even try.  Start with So You Want To Be A Wizard.  You can find my thoughts on it right here.

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