Friday, July 12, 2013


While I regretted last time around that I had not encountered Diane Duane's Young Wizards books when I was a young'un, this time around I'm pretty glad I didn't, because if I'd come across Deep Wizardry when I was the age of its two young protagonists, I would have required extensive therapy afterward. Look, I'm not going to get into this much, but man, I could have used a trigger warning because


I'm having trouble breathing after just having typed those words.*

Fortunately, I'm a grown up now, and have evolved and developed coping techniques for dealing with scenes like the


and am thus somewhat capable of admiring that scene for the majestic and badass bit of action writing that it is. Somewhat. I'm still very glad I put this book down to sleep last night well before the advent of the


or I wouldn't have slept at all and would probably have to be hauled off to a mental ward like one of H.P. Lovecraft's less strongly-constituted wus-heroes.

All that aside, Deep Wizardry is a remarkably wise, thoughtful and lovely book. We start up not long after Nita and Kit saved the world from the "Lone Power" in So You Want to be a Wizard, with Nita's family (and Kit along for good measure) vacationing on the beach and Nita and Kit exploring the delights of ocean swimming along with their budding powers and responsibilities. Soon it's those responsibilities -- as I observed last time around, Duane's version of magic has a heavy ethical/ecological bent and literally preserves the world -- that come crashing to the fore like a tidal wave when the duo meet up with a badly injured humpback whale, who turns out to be a young wizard herself, and who has just lost her mentor at the worst possible time.

Soon Nita and Kit are drawn into an awesome round of ritual and rite of passage upon which the fate of the eastern seaboard depends -- the Lone Power they defeated and sealed off last time around is always finding new and old ways to attack the fragile living cosmos these kids and their kind are sworn to defend and preserve -- and into a frame of reference that is startling in its maturity, as they have to spend much of the novel contemplating death quite seriously and personally.

Adding to the shivery archetypal dread of this story is the magnificent giant white "Master-shark" (as in the biggest Great White Shark that ever lived, so old -- possibly thousands of years old -- and vast that he is actually all white, like a deadly ghost slicing through the water), Ed** (short for Ed'Rashtekaresket), who pretty much steals the novel. Ed is a giant slab of uncanny, inhuman awesome, utterly believable as both shark and sentient, at home in his role as the "ender of distress" and full of bleak, harsh and yet still oddly compassionate wisdom in his dealings with Nita and Kit, who assume the forms of a humpback and a sperm whale, respectively, for their dealings in the deep. And while they might therefore be a little bigger than Ed, his lordly, dreadful power keeps them and us in awe through their every dealing with him.

Really, were I at all a reasonable person, I'd be much more afraid of Ed than of the


but anyone who knows me or even just reads my blog at all often probably already knows that if there is one thing I am not, it's a reasonable person. As it is, well, Ed versus the


is one of the most thrilling and seat-wetting passages I've ever encountered in literature. Holy crap, you guys?

And but so, Duane has published seven more of these Young Wizards books to date, and another one is due later this year. Could she ever possibly top this? Or even come close to hitting its (pardon me) high water mark? I dunno. But I'm ready to find out.

After some milk and cookies and soothing music to cure me of my lingering horrors from the


and the after-effects of some truly tragic content as well.

Deep and powerful stuff.

*My greatest childhood phobia was that a giant squid was under my bed and gonna attack me from the watery ocean depths that were also under my bed and yes I knew at the time this was quite impossible given that said bed was some 6000 feet above sea level not far from the Continental Divide but that's what phobias are, you guys. They're as powerful as they are irrational.


  1. I'm getting the first book in this series from the library today!

    1. The are altogether delightful, even when they're also sobering and dark. In a just world, THESE would have gotten made into multi-million dollar movies and not those other books.


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