Duane, Diane: (106) A Wizard Alone

A Wizard Alone is the latest book in Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series, and a welcome return to form after the disappointing The Wizard’s Dilemma. That book suffered from the “A Plot, B Plot” problem; what’s more, both of the plots seem, to my memory now, to not cohere very well even to themselves. The author has stated that it was the beginning of a larger plot arc, which is quite evident in A Wizard Alone. This doesn’t retroactively make The Wizard’s Dilemma a better book, unfortunately, but at least it wasn’t in vain.

[ As an aside, I wonder if the series was originally meant to be a trilogy? The first three are much more of a set, to my mind; the stakes and questions steadily ramp up throughout, and the end of High Wizardry, the third and my favorite, really feels like it could be an end to the series. The fourth book, A Wizard Abroad, seems quite slight in comparison, more an Ireland book than a Wizardry book, and then we have this new story arc starting up after it.

*pauses to mourn her copy of High Wizardry, temporarily buried in a box somewhere inaccessible* ]

In this book, there is no “A Plot, B Plot” problem, though Kit and Nita start out trying to address different situations. These initial problems turn out to be related, and with the effects of last book quite clear, we get a really interesting exploration of the question, why would a person with autism be offered wizardry?—particularly since wizardry is inherently outward-directed: the fight against entropy, on behalf of the universe and everything in it. What problem is there, that this person is the answer to?

Some of the threads begun in the last book aren’t yet complete, but this book ends in a much more satisfactory place than the last. There’s one piece of the worldbuilding that I have a problem with, specifically that Order of Being we learn about; I couldn’t help but say to myself, “Surely the One could have come up with a less perilous arrangement . . . ” Beyond that, though, I quite enjoyed this book; it’s not the best book of the series, but it’s a solid entry all the same.

[ Oh yes: the offer on the house was accepted, so barring disaster, we’re buying a house . . . ]

7 Comments

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  1. The Wizard’s Dilemma? Have I missed one of these? Or is it an alternate title for A Wizard Abroad?

  2. Dilemma is the book after Abroad; Nita’s mom gets cancer.

  3. So I saw with a quick websearch. The friendly local bookstore doesn’t have Dilemma, alas, but I’ll keep an eye out for it. After all, anticipation’s good for the soul, or some such.

  4. You *probably* don’t need to read Dilemma before Alone; it would be a good idea, but not essential. And I wasn’t that impressed with Dilemma anyway, as you may have gathered.

  5. So I saw, yes. And congratulations on the house-purchase, by the way!

  6. Forgot to say that I also posted this to rec.arts.sf.written, where there is some interesting discussion going on in this thread.

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