Saturday, April 12, 2014

Retro Friday Review: High Wizardry

by Diane Duane

Retro Friday introduction:
Retro Friday is a weekly meme hosted by Angie @ Angieville and focuses on reviewing books from the past. This can be a favourite, an under the radar book you think deserves more attention, something woefully out of print etc.

Story summary: The third book of the "Young Wizards" series, set after the events of So You Want to Be a Wizard? and Deep Wizardry. This time, it's Nita's little sister Dairine's turn. As she is only eleven, her acceptance of wizardry results in an explosion of power that sends her across the universe, to a planet of silicon where strange things are happening.

Thoughts: This is perhaps my favourite book in the entire series, tied with A Wizard Alone. Outer space! Computers! Artificial intelligence! (Except not really artificial in this case.) Emerging sentience! Learning of all the things! Everything I love, in one very exciting and well written book. Although it might take a particular kind of person to love this book as much as I do. The description of the rise of the nearby galaxy on pg. 160-2, though perhaps not poetical and interesting enough to quote here, moved me greatly. So did the whole part where Dairine first began interacting with the aforementioned emerging sentience. Man, as a computer nerd, that was amazingly cool.

Page 333 describes, in more poetical terms, this series's idea of heaven: Timeheart. "[A] reality that burned like fire but still was sweeter than water after thirst, and fed the thirst itself, and quenched it again in delight and more desire; a state so much more solid and real than mere physical being and thought that Nita held on to herself for delight and terror, afraid she would fade away in the face of it like a mist in full sun. Yet she wanted to see and feel more of it--for she knew that there was more. How many more realities like this, piled one on another in splendor, towered up into the burning depths of creation, each more concrete, more utterly real than the last?"
I found it interesting how similar some of these ideas sound to C. S. Lewis, especially the idea of "heaven" as described in The Great Divorce: it is more solid and concrete, more real than this reality. Part of it also sounds a little like the "further up and further in" idea from The Last Battle.

Also, a quick little note that isn't really important to anything: on pg. 114 there is a quick conversation with an alien where he says he comes from "Earth", and Dairine remembers that most sentient creatures call their planet "earth" or "the world" or something. Which totally makes sense. It has been a small pet peeve of mine that often in scifi/fantasy, the planets all have strange names, and are called thus even by the inhabitants of the planet. All except Earth, which is called Earth by everyone, including aliens. Biased, much?

Grade: 4 1/2 stars

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