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A Wizard Abroad
Diane Duane
Harcourt Brace, 352 pages

A Wizard Abroad
Diane Duane
Diane Duane has published twenty-seven novels, numerous short stories, and various comics and computer games. Her husband, UK fantasy writer Peter Morwood, is a frequent collaborator: so far they share credits for five novels and are working on a sixth. Duane's freelance screenwriting work has included the widely acclaimed episode of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION, "Where No One Has Gone Before." Her most recently aired screen work has been episodes of the animated BATMAN series and of GARGOYLES.

Diane Duane Website
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Past Feature Reviews
A review by Todd Richmond

A Wizard Abroad is Diane Duane's fourth Wizardry book. The Wizardry series began with So You Want to Be a Wizard, the story of young Nita Callahan, who finds a book at the library that introduces her to the art of Wizardry. The story of her wizardly exploits, and that of her partner Kit and her younger sister, Dairine, are told in Deep Wizardry and High Wizardry. The Wizardry series is a great set of books for younger readers. There's a place for both young wizards and old wizards in Duane's books. The youngest wizards are the strongest, but untrained. The older wizards have less raw power but have the experience necessary for more subtle and complex magic. The young wizards are introduced to the craft through a book that they "find". The book is like a computer -- the contents are continually changing based on what the wizard needs to know next. After a training period, the wizards are "on call", even the youngest. They report to a Senior Wizard, who in turn reports to an Area Senior, and so on. The young wizards have a hierarchy of elders to call upon if they need assistance or guidance, yet they are also given a great deal of responsibility for their specific assignments. It's an ideal recipe for young readers -- who hasn't wished for magical powers, the ability to travel to distant places or talk with trees or animals?

A Wizard Abroad begins with Nita journeying to Ireland. Nita's parents are concerned that Nita, just fifteen, is spending too much time with her partner Kit. They decide to send her to visit her Aunt Annie for a long visit, after making her promise that she won't travel home via magic to visit Kit. They forget to extract the same promise from Kit, however, who is then free to travel to Ireland to visit Nita. Nita's parents are also worried that Nita's childhood is being taken from her by her responsibilities as a wizard, and they mistakenly think that she will escape from her duties during her visit. But as you might expect, Nita is caught up in new adventures in Ireland. A group of very old Builder-Powers, beings charged with the building and leveling mountains, and the making and filling lakes and rivers, were responsible for the creation of Ireland. The Tuatha de Danaan, as they were called by the humans who came to dwell there, became attached to their creations and were reluctant to leave. But they relinquished the lands to the Irish and moved "sideways" into an adjacent universe, returning on the four great feast days of the year. Their comings and goings, however, have widened what was once a footpath between the universes into a superhighway, and without meaning to, people are beginning to move "sideways" into the adjacent universe(s). To complicate matters, the Lone One (the Other, Darkness, Evil) and his minions are at work as well. With the help of Kit, Dairine, and the wizards of Ireland, Nita must gather four great treasures from Ireland's past, awaken them, and use them to close the widening rift and defeat the servants of Evil.

Besides dealing with this complicated story, the book also deals with the relationship between Nita and her overprotective parents, her feelings for Kit and for boys in general, and the other insecurities that you would expect any normal fifteen year old girl to be facing. A Wizard Abroad is meant for younger readers, though, as the description of the plot above may suggest, it may be a bit complicated for preteens. The series may be of particular interest to female readers as Nita and her younger sister are the focus of most of the books and they are strong female characters. If you've read the other Wizardry books, this fourth book in the series won't disappoint you.

Those that enjoy Diane Duane's Wizardry series may also be interested in Susan Cooper's The Dark is Rising series, which has as its main character a young boy who discovers on his birthday that he is one of the servants of the Light and has gained magical powers.

Copyright © 1997 by Todd Richmond

Todd is a plant molecular developmental biologist who has finally finished 23 years of formal education. He recently fled Madison, WI for the warmer but damper San Francisco Bay Area and likes bad movies, good science fiction, and role-playing games. He began reading science fiction at the age of eight, starting with Heinlein, Silverberg, and Tom Swift books, and has a great fondness for tongue-in-cheek fantasy Óla Terry Pratchett, Craig Shaw Gardner and Robert Asprin.

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