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Wizards at War
by Diane Duane
The Young Wizards series has always been among my top recommendations when Harry Potter fans ask what to read next. So, I was already thrilled when I found out that this eighth book in the series was coming out. Then I got an even bigger thrill when Diane Duane HERSELF owled me through the COS Forums. Do you dig that, people? The author of So You Want to Be a Wizard is a member of your forums! And she has read my reviews of her books! And now, in spite of a badly-timed vacation and a lot of fuss with DHL, I have in my hands an autographed copy of Wizards at War. Feasting! Rejoicing!
OK. Deep breath.
Heres the truly astounding part. The book came with a personal note from Ms. Duane, all the way from her home in Ireland, where she makes the following sad admission:
You might want to let people know that, though Ive seen the HP movies (and with considerable enjoyment), Ive never read the books, and probably wont be doing so for quite some time. Starting with the publication of the first HP book, I quickly became sensitive to the immediate/automatic assumption by some people that my books are ripoffs of JKRs and very early on I realized that, for the foreseeable future, I was going to have to be able to put my hand on my heart, when asked, and say honestly that theyre not. Im aware of the fact that Im probably being deprived of some happy reading time, but for the time being I think Im taking the wisest course.
This is a tragedy that honestly, seriously, breaks my heart. Those of us who hold theYoung Wizards books in a place of honor next to the Harry Potter books and I hope and expect that there are a lot of us know very well that So You Want to Be a Wizard was published almost a decade before Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone. We also know that the resemblance between the two series is vague to start with, and vanishes more and more with each successive book. They give us similar kinds of pleasure, and in similar quanities, and that is about as close as they get if you ask me. So I think we can all agree, right now, that no one who says that Diane Duane ripped off JKR is to be taken seriously. Give the poor lady a break, so she can finally read some books that she will find very enjoyable and surprisingly unlike her own books!
And now, before I forget…the review.
As each adventure of teen wizards Nita and Kit comes to an end, one wonders how or rather, if Diane Duane can possibly top it in the next book. And since this series, unlike HP, has no set number of books, theres really no way to tell for sure that there will be a next book. There are clues, of course. The end of this book, for example, leaves a lot of unfinished business that cries out for a Book 9.
But after bringing together all the surviving characters from the previous seven books; confronting them with an immediate threat to the existence of the entire universe; revealing that this very clear and present danger is only a diversion for something really nasty that the Lone Power has planned; forcing the young wizards to figure everything out on their own without even the usual moral support and advice of their seniors; after not one but two gigantic climaxes in which more than one recurring character is revealed to be more than we thought them to be; and after a tear-jerking conclusion that (once again) means things will never be the same for our wizardly friends…well, honestly, how COULD she top that?
My goodness. I think I just wrote a synopsis of the whole book in one sentence. The funny thing is, youre no wiser about whats going to happen than you were before. Ha! ha! Youll just have to suffer from the anguish of anticipation until you get hold ofWizards at War!
Then you can read about the mysterious flood of dark matter that is filling up the universe, disrupting wizardry, and threatening all life everywhere. You can thrill to the biggest team-wizardry you have ever read about. You can sigh or giggle (depending on your maturity level) at the hormonal romance popping out in all directions. You can feel a warm hug from the many old friends who put in an appearance, and experience Duanes fascinating blend of scientific, spiritual, and imaginary ideas, woven into the background of Kit and Nitas very personal struggles.
But if I were you, I wouldnt believe me when I tell you that the best part of the book is when a dog tells a bedtime story to a giant bug. Go ahead, try to prove me wrong…and when you flip the last page with a full heart and a staggered brain, youll be glad that I tricked you into reading this book!