________________ CM . . . . Volume XII Number 19 . . . . May 26, 2006


Wizards at War. (Young Wizards series, #8).

Diane Duane.
Orlando, FL: Harcourt (Distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books), 2005.
551 pp., cloth, $22.95.
ISBN 0-15-204772-7.

Subject Headings:

Grades 7 and up / Ages 12 and up.

Review by Ronald J. Hore.

** /4


"Sure," Tom said, and put out his hand. The wizardry surrounding them collapsed itself to a little blue-white sphere no bigger than a ball bearing, and dropped into his palm. As the wizardry shrank away, ordinary afternoon sunshine and the reality of Nita's dining room reasserted themselves: the flowered wallpaper, the dining room table with some of the leftovers of breakfast still on it - a marmalade jar with a knife stuck in it, a couple of paper napkins.

Tom dropped the imaging wizardry back onto the open pages of his wizard's manual. It flattened itself to the page; he reached out and closed the book again. Kit watched him do it, feeling peculiarly remote from it all. We're sitting here in Nita's dining room talking about the end of civilization, he thought, and not in ten thousand years, either. From the sound of it, it's gonna be more like ten thousand hours ... or minutes.  

Roshaun glanced up from the table, where his troubled gaze had been resting for a few moments. "Senior," he said, "why is this all happening now ? Surely if this is so simple a strategy, the Isolate Power should have enacted it and made an end of all of us ages age."


This fantasy tale, with just a touch of speculative fiction, is the eighth book in the "Young Wizards Series." The main heroes, Nita and Kit, are modern teenaged high school students, and wizards. The assumption in the series is that wizardry is a common occurrence. The senior "adult" wizards are in a situation where they are losing their powers and must rely on their younger associates to combat the menace in this tale, the Lone Power, a league of dark wizards. The young wizards are assisted by an assortment of characters, alien and otherwise, including the family dog "Pouch." They are supported by the shadowy Powers That Be. The group is spilt up during the story, and readers follow both branches until they reunite by the end.

     This is a thick volume, at 551 pages. It is the only book in the series that I have read, and so it took some time to catch up with, and sort out, the various characters. The dangers they face are massive, including the fall of the known universe. The language used in the book does not talk down to the reader, and normal teen situations appear throughout: school, parents, zits. The story is set in the present and told in a narrative style that allows the reader into the thoughts and points of view of the various main characters. Besides Nita and Kit, we have Dairine, Nita's sister, who may be more than she seems and probably explained in a previous book, Carmela, Kit's older sister and the cause of the usual inter-family squabbles, their parents and Tom and Carl, two senior wizards. Their alien associates include a giant purple metallic centipede Sker'ret, - another, Filif, who looks like a small Christmas tree, - Roshaun, the blond hunk, human-looking, alien king, and of course, Pouch, Kit's dog, who also just happens to have powers of his own. While the emphasis is on wizardry, there are touches of speculative fiction in the description of some of their devices. The plot also involves travel to distant worlds and meeting different cultures.   

     A fan of the “Young Wizards” series should enjoy this volume as it continues with what has gone on before; the previous adventure is mentioned. The general fantasy reader who is unfamiliar with the characters or the world they are set in, may find it takes a bit of time to pick up the threads of who is who and what is going on and to accept the concepts behind the plot. Readers who like End-of-the-World themes and wizardry and who have the patience to unravel the background of the story should enjoy this tale. It is not for someone looking for a light read.


Ronald J. Hore, involved with the Canadian Authors Association and writer's workshops for several years, retired from the business world in Winnipeg, MB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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