Nanolomo: So You Want To be a Wizard by Diane Duane
This is another of those significant books published in the year of my birth. Though really it isn’t just the one book, but also Duane’s whole Young Wizards series.
The story: Nita Callahan, hiding out in the library from the local bullies, finds a book titled ‘So You Want To Be a Wizard.’ Intrigued, she takes it home, and quickly discovers it is in fact a manual for how to become a wizard. Her adventures lead her to a new friend and equally new wizard, Kit Rodriguez, an alien pinpoint of light (nicknamed Fred), and the introduction of the series villain, often known as the Lone Power.
This series has gotten to me in ways Harry Potter never really could have. I thoroughly enjoyed the Potter books, but for the most part the characters felt relatively safe. What I think Duane has down is the rather serious choices and decisions that wizards have to make. Wizardry doesn’t exist in a separate, parallel world, but rather wizards act as guardians of a sort to the places they occupy. There is a deep sense of connectedness with everything that goes on, not a new-age hippy kind of way, but a sense that choice and action has an affect and reaction. Duane touches on the spiritual as well; I just loved the idea that what wizardry is about is slowly down entropy (the physical as well as the metaphysical). The end will come, sure, but there is still time for good things in the universe too. My favourite of the series is probably the second, Deep Wizardry, where our protagonists had to make some pretty frightening choices. And the Lone Power makes also for a pretty compelling villain too. If you’re after thoughtful YA fantasy, the Young Wizards books are pretty bloody good.
PS – I had to do a bit of hunting to find this cover, and I wanted this one in particular because it was the one on the edition I first read. 🙂