When Nita Callahan scans along a shelf of library books, she can't help but notice one strange title. So You Want to Be a Wizard. You know, those kids...moreWhen Nita Callahan scans along a shelf of library books, she can't help but notice one strange title. So You Want to Be a Wizard. You know, those kids reference books that tell about different professions. So You Want to Be a Pilot, an Electrician, a Doctor. But a Wizard?
It's gotta be some sort of joke. At least, that's what she tells herself when she takes it home.
But as she reads more about magic and wizardry, and after reading aloud the Wizard's Oath—
In Life's name, and for Life's sake I say that I will use the Art for nothing but the service of that Life. I will guard growth and ease pain. I will fight to preserve what grows and lives well in its own way; and I will change no object or creature unless its growth and life, or that of the system of which it is part, are threatened. To these ends, in the practice of my Art, I will put aside fear for courage, and death for life, when it is right to do so—till Universe's end.
—Nita quickly learns just how serious this book is...
Nita soon meets up with another new wizard, a younger boy named Kit, and together they begin testing out their Art. When their first spell results in...complications, they find themselves in the presence of a White Hole named Fred who has some very disturbing news.
Little did they realize how accurate the Oath would be about 'putting aside fear for courage, and death for life' for they're about to be pitted against the Starsnuffer, the Creator of Death, the Lone Power himself!
As far as introductions go, So You Want to Be a Wizard is definitely a worthy kickstart to an extremely inventive series. It has action, it has intrigue, it has humor, and it even has horror and heartbreak. You'd think a first book might want to hold back on some things, but I guess when Entropy is on the line, you don't have the luxury of taking things slowly.
When you first think of wizards and magic, you might think of JK Rowling's breed of Latin spells and potions, or perhaps the more mysterious internal powers that Tolkien created for Gandalf. Duane's magic, however, is much more scientifically based, dealing with calculations, raw materials, and the adage that 'everything comes at a price'. Juxtaposed to this hard science, however, is the lyrical Speech which is spoken and understood by every living and non-living thing. Sometimes 'magic' can happen, simply by using the Speech to persuade something to move or change. And with your trusty manual to guide you, it's a wonder why anyone would want to go study at Hogwarts when practically any answer is only a page away.
But, of course, magic is not an instant solution to one's problems. In fact, more likely than not, things become more complicated with the introduction to magic. ...But that doesn't make it any less exhilarating to experience!
The book itself is very easy to read, despite the complex chapter titles—the theme of which seem to be what one might find in an actual instruction manual. Besides the occasional foreign (as in other-worldly) name—such as Khairelikoblepharehglukumeilichephreidosd'enagouni- quickly shortened to Fred—the language is light and simple. With main characters around 12 or 13, I might suggest the book as low as Middle Grade, but definitely appealing to anyone in the Young Adult crowd as well.
I would recommend this to anyone, young or old, who is intrigued with the idea that magic is acting all around us.
With their initiation ordeal behind them, Nita and Kit are ready for some relaxation. Nita's family heads to the coast, taking Kit along for the ride,...moreWith their initiation ordeal behind them, Nita and Kit are ready for some relaxation. Nita's family heads to the coast, taking Kit along for the ride, and there the two wizards resume practicing and experimenting with their Art.
Of course, finding a whale wizard in distress kinda cancels out one's vacation plans. Sure enough, the Powers That Be have another task for the pair. The Lone Power is not at all pleased with the outcome of his last battle. The time has come for another singing of The Song of the Twelve to bind the Dark Lord away again.
Nita and Kit agree to help in any way they can. But what happens when Nita's folks get suspicious of her staying out after dark? Or when some of the whale participants are less than happy about helping? And what's this about Nita and Kit's debt being paid? And SHARKS?!
If the theme of the last book was an instruction manual, this one is songs. Each chapter is a song: Summer Night's Song, Wizards' Song, A Song of Choice, Seniors' Song, etc. I personally found the 'song' too slow at times. There is a lot of description of the undersea landscape, of how it feels to be a whale, of the different species' tones, however I can mostly attribute this to the fact that few (if any) readers have seen these sights, or experienced these wonders. There's a lot to try to get across. So while it may have been on the slow side for me, it was not too much of a distraction or an annoyance on the whole, especially since those overly-descriptive moments were few and far between.
I especially enjoyed the interaction with Nita's family in this book. Every teen knows what it's like to keep a secret from their mom and dad. Maybe you watched a movie you shouldn't have, or went somewhere other than you said you did. Nita and Kit have to struggle with guilt and trust the same as any of us did, and it's an instant connection with the reader.
While reading the first book is certainly helpful, this one could easily stand on its own. They reference and recall events from before, but I think the uninformed reader would merely have their curiosity piqued, rather than spoiled. That being said, I would still recommend picking up So You Want to Be a Wizard before attempting Deep Wizardry, if only because it moves faster throughout and provides the much-needed hook to get you into the series.
As far as language goes, Deep Wizardry is still fairly easy to follow, but I would put it more firmly at the Young Adult level because of the slight increase in vocabulary and a reference to sex (ah, mothers). Name-wise, the whales don't make it any easy on us: S'reee, Aroooon, ed'Rashtekaresket, Areinnye, T!h!ki, and Iniihwit are the most foreign of the bunch, though Hotshot, Roots, Fluke, and Fang are pleasantly simple. We are also introduced to a few untranslated words of the Speech, Dai'stiho (a wizard's greeting) being one that will be repeated throughout the books.
If roaming around a city didn't do it for you last time, the magic of the sea should manage to capture your interest hook, line and sinker.
Nita's younger sister, Dairine, can be a bit of a know-it-all brat sometimes. But at least she doesn't know about wizardry.
Well, until their summer tr...moreNita's younger sister, Dairine, can be a bit of a know-it-all brat sometimes. But at least she doesn't know about wizardry.
Well, until their summer trip (in Deep Wizardry) when she saw Nita transform from whale to human right before her eyes. Now she sees the power and she'll go mad unless she can have it too. Understandable, since I don't know anyone who wouldn't want to perform magic.
She starts poking around Nita's stuff, getting more and more intrusive (much to Nita's annoyance), and eventually finds the Wizard's Oath page in her manual. Without a second thought, she reads it aloud, but when nothing happens she's just about ready to give up.
Well, if she can't have magic, the new computer might be the next best thing. Or it might just be the answer she was looking for. Sure enough, she starts off on a journey across the galaxy and beyond, all in the hopes of fighting and beating Darth Vader. Be careful what you wish for.
The younger the wizard, the greater their power. The greater their power, the more they can do against the Lone Power. And He doesn't like that one bit.
For a third book, and a noticeably shorter installment, this sure had a LOT packed into it. It had Dairine's main story, it had Nita and Kit's story chasing after her, it had battles, it had Creation, it had 'Heaven', it had philosophy, it had space ports, it had aliens, it had...more that I won't get into... Frankly, I found the amount of material a bit daunting for one book.
I have to admit, I did not like Dairine at all during my first time reading this. I was intensely loyal to Nita and felt Dairine was a huge threat to Nita's continuing to be a/the main character. Perhaps it was because I'm an older sister, myself. Sure, younger wizards are stronger, but that's no reason to throw Nita aside! I was honestly getting really anxious about it, even to the point I thought Nita might get killed off to make room for Dairine!
Um...okay, SPOILER ALERT...Nita hangs around for a long, long time... END SPOILER.
With my fears on that subject since resolved, I found Dairine a very likable character. She's strong, independent, smart, and snarky. She's only 10, maybe 11, but she's far from childish. In fact, I keep picturing her as a mouthy 15 or 16-year-old (though this may be interference from recalling later books—ah, the joys of re-reading). She also plays off Nita extremely well, creating a believable, and at time touching, sisterly relationship.
My largest problem with this book was its vast technical or abstract descriptions. Other worlds, space ports, galaxy views, and other astrological events play a huge part here, and some of the descriptions are simply too much to picture. This book is the most tempting for me to want a movie to be made, just so I can see what the heck we're supposed to be picturing. Thankfully, these aren't too central to the plot, so you can sorta skim along with minimal knowledge, but it might be nice to see an illustrated edition one day. (If you're really hung up on the space port, don't worry, it gets visited again in later books.)
Same thing goes for the 'aftermath' of the 'final battle'. There are some references made to historical/mythological figures, a lot of whom might not be known to MG readers. Sure, it's a good opportunity for research, but I'd almost give this over solely to the YA crowd. MG readers will like it for the action and the excitement of other worlds, but I think YA readers will be able to understand more of the techno-babble, mythology and spiritual references, and some budding 'feelings' between Kit and Nita.
Vacations are supposed to be fun, right? You wouldn't think so by the way Nita's acting. But then, being forced to go to Ireland because your mom want...moreVacations are supposed to be fun, right? You wouldn't think so by the way Nita's acting. But then, being forced to go to Ireland because your mom wants to you 'take a break' from doing magic with your best friend might put a damper on anyone's day. And though Nita tries to weasel out of the trip with, "Wizards don't stop doing wizardry just because they're not at home. If I go on call in Ireland, I go on call, and there's nothing that can stop it," she had no idea how right she would be.
Strange things are happening in Ireland. Oh, there's occasional ghost or 'little people' sighting, but that's pretty normal. What's not normal is sliding through time without thinking about it. Or having rocks roll uphill. Or having ancient heroes and villains, unicorns and merfolk, and some less savory creatures suddenly appear and interact with the locals.
So it's up to Nita and some of the local wizards to set things back to right. But can she focus on the task at hand when she's missing Kit? Plus, she's not exactly on home turf anymore. And what about that mysterious, irritating, angry, cute Irish wizard, Ronan?
Much like the previous book, there is a LOT of information here. Ireland is as much a character as Nita, and it tries to emerge as fleshed out as possible. Sure, there's the regular scenic descriptions, the absurdity (to Americans) of driving on the left, the relentless offering of tea, and the slowness of life (in comparison to New York). But there's also history and myth, accents and language, magic and wizardry.
Frankly, I think this one is a bit indulgent of the author's own fascination with Ireland. The chapter titles are all in Irish/Celtic first, English second. There are long, long sections of Irish myth/legend/history, including lots of names which are never expanded upon. And even the history that seems important to the central storyline seems touched upon here and there, never laid out where it can be seen clearly. Though, this might be partly because of our narrator's role.
There's not much happening that directly involves Nita. The adult wizards (of which there are many, but only 3 or 4 named) are in charge for the majority of the book, while Nita runs around either trying to catch up on the knowledge, or simply observing or reacting to what's happening around her. She has a couple moments of teenage self-reflection, but those have as much to do with the plot as what shirt Dairine's wearing (Batman, in case you're curious). They say that when it comes to wizards, nothing is a coincidence, but nothing Nita does explains why she was important enough to be there in the first place!
Ireland is described as running at a slower pace. The cities, the country, even the wizards don't zip to action as quickly as they do in America (again, with NYC as the basis for comparison). And this book does anything but zip. There's very little action broken up by lots and lots of description. Even the final battle doesn't start until the last 40 pages (of 332). I think if I didn't have the audiobook running in my ear, I would have read it slower than usual, too.
Ultimately, I think this book has a more limited audience. If you're at all interested in Ireland or mythology, you'll probably enjoy it. If you're dead-set on following Nita as she grows up, you'll tolerate this book. If you're wanting action and adventure like in the other books, you might want to skip this one. That I can think of, there's only one thing (character) of importance that appears in other books. And even then, it's not until book #8.
First, she's started high school, and while she's still considered brainy, her subjects aren't coming as easily to her as...moreNita's having some problems.
First, she's started high school, and while she's still considered brainy, her subjects aren't coming as easily to her as they used to. She's starting to feel kinda inadequate next to Kit, who, though a year younger, is still breezing through everything.
Going along with that, she's not quite sure what to do about Kit. Their partnership is hitting some rough water, and she can't understand how he can insist on being so...wrong! It's affecting their friendship and their wizardry, and she's not quite sure which is worse.
Finally, there's her mom. She's sick. Real sick. Sick enough that the doctors aren't too hopeful. But Nita knows things doctors don't, and can do things they can't. Most of all, Nita knows exactly Who's fault this is.
Now it's personal.
But with so much doubt in herself, Kit being uncooperative, and her mom's life at stake, can Nita find a cure in time? Or might she have to make a deal with that One she's devoted her life to fighting?
I cried a LOT in this book. When Nita's mom first gets sick. When they first visit the hospital. When Dairine breaks down. When Nita breaks down. And more. Just the thought of losing my own mom...like that... I'm warning you, there is a lot of realistic emotional distress here, for realistic reasons, and if your family or friends have experienced anything similar, it might hit even harder.
I found this book a lot more engaging than the last. Nita and Kit are back in the forefront of things. In fact, Kit gets his own share of narration, like Dairine did in High Wizardry. Though Nita is still in charge of the main plot, having Kit's side of things helps not only soften the blow of Nita's despair but also provides more insight into our co-main character which we have been so sorely lacking before now.
It's been really easy for me to forget how young these characters really are. I think in book one Nita was 12 and Kit was 11; here, Nita is 14 and Kit is 13. This is the first time I found them acting their ages consistently throughout the book. Yes, they're both dealing with magical responsibilities and situations well above a 'normal' teenager, but their internal and personal struggles finally feel real. Not to say the other books lacked for it, but it definitely set this one apart in a good way.
As far as complexity goes, this installment has its fair share of advanced content. Nita's attempt to help her mom requires experience and practice in a field she hasn't yet acquired, so she's sent to train in 'practice universes', where the natural or physical laws aren't quite as solid as in our universe. Tom and Carl get into some technobabble when trying to explain these, but Nita manages to translate things well enough for the reader. It's complex, but engaging at the same time.
If you managed to make it through book 4, this one is definitely worth the struggle. It's longer, and you might have to take a couple breaks to dry your eyes (luckily, I had the audiobook going through the tears), but you're compelled through it, even from the first page where Nita and her mom are engaged in a completely relatable conversation. If you care about the characters, which by this point it's practically impossible not to be, you'll read this book with a fervor.
It's been a few months since the events in the last book, and Nita's still not fully recovered. I mean, when you've been through what she has, who cou...moreIt's been a few months since the events in the last book, and Nita's still not fully recovered. I mean, when you've been through what she has, who could blame her?
Kit certainly doesn't. But life must go on, and a wizard's work is never done. Kit's been asked by Tom and Carl if he can look into another wizard's Ordeal. Normally it's not wise to interfere with the initial test, but Darryl's case is far from normal.
First off, he's been on Ordeal for over three months now. Usually combating the Lone Power is either won or lost in a matter of days. What in the world could be taking three months to accomplish?
But Kit soon finds that Darryl's problem doesn't necessarily lie in this world, and the world it does reside in, one shaped and twisted by autism, isn't easily traversed alone. And if he's not careful, he might just end up trapped there. Alone.
I found this one a little less compelling than the last, if only because there was more of a mystery about things rather than a straight-forward action-packed mission. Nita and Kit are both unsure of themselves, of what they're doing and then how to do it. There's a lot of probing and research involved rather than running in with guns blazing, which is understandable.
Kit takes the forefront of the plot this time around. With he and Nita again being split up for the majority of the time, the divided narration is a useful tool. Kit provides the majority of the action (though, it's more of a hunt than a chase), while Nita takes the more subtle inner feelings side of things. Of course, as the plot speeds up, both characters have their fair share of action.
Complexity-wise, the story and techobabble aren't very hard at all. The most complex idea has to be autism, which is presented and described in a way that's extremely easy to grasp. We're shown how Darryl thinks, how he processes things, what life is like to him, but at the same time we're given some facts about it so that we understand not to generalize the condition. In a field with so many questions and not very many answers, this book handles the subject with tact and respect, while interweaving creativity and art.
Ultimately, this book may not be the speediest roller coaster of the series, but it's certainly a compelling ride. Action-wise, it does drag, but your interest is more focused on the characters and the mysteries they try to work through. And even though the setting for the books is fantasy, what continually sets them apart is that the characters realistically work through a lot of real life issues. It's comforting, in a way, to learn that there's no magic spell for mending a bruised pride or a broken heart. It puts us on common ground with these heroes. And if we're alike in that way, what else might we be capable of?
Nita's ready for a vacation. A real vacation this time. Not something forced on her by her parents or The Powers That Be. At least Spring Break has ar...moreNita's ready for a vacation. A real vacation this time. Not something forced on her by her parents or The Powers That Be. At least Spring Break has arrived. Two whole weeks off from school, with nothing but voluntary wizardry to take up her time. Still, even that might be nice to get away from...
Good thing Dairine has done her research. Apparently there's a sort of Wizard Exchange-Program in place so that wizards can witness other species' techniques of wizardry without having to deal with the Lone Power.
Nita and Kit jump at the chance, and soon enough they're in the opposite arm of the galaxy, on the planet of Alaalu. White, sandy beaches, hardly any storms, a barter economy, no garbage, an absence of death and pain, flying sheep...it's a paradise!
Meanwhile, Dairine and her dad get to host three alien exchanges: Filif, a walking, talking Christmas tree with a love for brightly colored clothes; Sker'ret, a giant, purple centipede with an unending hunger for any matter; and Roshaun, a humanoid prince with an attitude that sends Dairine up the wall.
But, whether in the paradise of Alaalu or in the chaos of home, when wizardry's involved, nothing's ever as it seems.
I found this book utterly enjoyable. Nita and Kit trade off narrating half of the book, and Dairine takes the other. On the one hand, you're glad for Nita and Kit to finally get some time off, but at the same time you wish that there was a little excitement. That's where Dairine's group comes in, giving us a bit of the chaos and mayhem we've come to expect. It has a healthy balance of humor and philosophy—not an easy balance to make.
I absolutely loved the new wizards. Sure, Nita, Kit and Dairine have carried us through six books just fine, and I wouldn't trade them for anything, but Dairine's three visitors really steal the show. Dinner is especially fun. I mean, just imagine telling a sentient alien tree that here it is a normal custom to eat plants. Or try explaining to a walking garbage disposal which items in a kitchen are food, and which aren't.
Possibly the most surprising feat, to which I have to compliment the author on, is that for the first time I can recall, I've liked the Lone Power. Yes, He/She/It is back. Why wouldn't It be? I won't go into too much detail, but I found the encounter with It extremely enjoyable. Maybe it's me falling for the proverbial 'Bad Boy', but to take Evil and create a character from it, that is truly something to applaud.
This book poses some fascinating philosophical questions by the end. About death and entropy, happiness and change. It's definitely a great topic for book clubs, or even to discuss with friends and family. If anyone has read this book and would like to start a discussion, let me know and I'll make a post specifically for it. As it is, however, I don't want to give too much away.
If I had any complaint, it would be about the resolution to Dairine's conflict. There's all this build-up, and then it just kind of...happens, just like that. No fireworks. No explanation. Just poof, okay, let's go. So much for that.
If Dairine's computer's incessant chanting of 'Uh-oh' are any indication, there's about to be trouble.
When Tom and Carl ask to come over, Nita, Kit, D...moreIf Dairine's computer's incessant chanting of 'Uh-oh' are any indication, there's about to be trouble.
When Tom and Carl ask to come over, Nita, Kit, Dairine and their guests hope it's just a normal house call. Maybe a little debrief of why there were suddenly no higher-ranking wizards around last week (during the events of Wizard's Holiday)? But surely nothing earth-shattering after all the work they just went through, right?
A malevolent blackness is pushing the universe apart, warping older wizards' perceptions, and tearing the very fabric of wizardry. Soon no adult wizard will remember their wizardry and shortly after that, wizardry itself will fail to function. It's up to the young wizards of Earth and other planets to both protect their homes and battle the incoming threat.
But Nita, Kit and company have news of a secret weapon that not only will drive back this darkness, but may set the Lone Power back a few notches, permanently. Only problem is they have no idea what it is or where it is.
It'll be a war for the history books, alright. That is, if there's any society left afterward...
If you were waiting for something to happen this series, wait no longer. This book seems to be what all the others were leading up to. It draws on and references every single other book in the series, and it does so masterfully.
I continued to love the characters. Not only do our alien friends return for more fleshing out, but a few older acquaintances show up for an encore. Histories, families, specialties and personalities are all built upon to delight even the most obscure fandom. Yes, even the one for the Lone Power.
This book is looooong. As such, its pacing is set at a chapterly stride. Each chapter provides an easy stopping point for you to breathe and re-group. Not saying that you won't want to continue reading at all, but I did find it a little difficult to read it all in one go. Simply put, there is a lot of information to pack in here and occasional (or frequent) breaks are helpful to aid digestion.
Once again, the narration is split between Nita, Kit and Dairine, though this time it seems more equally distributed. However, the narration isn't always obvious as there are a lot of other characters, environments and action to focus on. The 3rd-person limited tinges on 3rd-person omniscient at times, but not obviously or irritatingly so.
With so many narrators, so many locations, and the added effect that the narrators split up a lot in the middle, the plot can seem a little non-linear. It reminds me a little of The Two Towers in that respect, when it switches between the two hobbits and Aragorn's group (and Frodo's, if you're thinking about the movie). If you aren't reading it all at once, or if you start to get confused, perhaps taking notes on each narrator's journey might be best, instead of cataloging the entire plot linearly.
I assure you, if you've hung through the series this far, you are in for quite a treat.