Have you ever had a bratty little sister? How about one who is also super smart, making her even more difficult to deal with? Sisters or brothers like those are sometimes a pain to live with, but how about if your bratty little sister also happened to be a wizard, and an even better one than you were? That’s what Diane Duane’s third novel in her “Young Wizards” series, High Wizardry,is about. Nita Callahan and her best friend, and fellow wizard, Christopher “Kit” Rodriguez learn that the Lone One or Starsnuffer, the Satanic enemy they bested in the first two books, is the subject of the Ordeal that Nita’s eleven-year-old sister, Dairine, has to face. Head strong as always and not wanting to admit she needs any help from anyone else, Dairine sets off by herself using a Wizard’s manual of her own, which is in the shape of an Apple computer.
Dairine uses her new Apple to travel to Mars, then to the Crossings which is a sort of huge transportation hub as large as an entire state. There she is attacked by agents of the Lone Power who are misguided aliens that he is using as his servants to stop Dairine from succeeding in her Ordeal. She uses a worldgate to flee, assisted by an unnamed man she meets in a bar, and barely escapes. The man tells her to hide herself in a restroom designated for a different species than herself, so she does just barely getting the computer to run a program in time to allow her to escape. Still, one of the energy weapons an alien fires goes through her disappearing body and hits the wall behind her. She wants to travel as far away as possible and she is transported to a giant planet consisting entirely of silicon which is orbited by a miniature black hole.
The planet is itself like a giant computer because computers use silicon chips to function. It starts trying to communicate with Dairine’s computer, which seems to have almost an unlimited capacity to contain knowledge of all sorts. Dairine transfers this information to the planet which includes the Wizard’s manual which makes the planet into a wizard. The planet then creates life in the form of turtles using a template found in the Apple. They are sort of glassy-looking talking turtles as they are silicon based like itself. They quickly learn to speak more and more words and become the planet’s ears and eyes. The turtles aid Dairine when the Lone One eventually tracks her down.
In the meantime Nita and Kit discover she is missing and that she’s left a gateway open to the planet Mars. They realize what she’s done and get advice from Senior Wizards Tom and Carl who have appeared in the first two novels and have helped them. Their talking parrot, Macchu Pichu (Peaches) – who can foresee the future – agrees to go along with Nita and Kit to track down Dairine and help her with the Ordeal she’s on. They know that the Lone Power is also after Dairine and they hope they can get to her to help before it’s too late. If Lone Power kills her it would be a victory for Darkness and Evil.
How does High Wizardry stack up compared with the first two books in the series? Though some reviews I’ve read don’t seem to think it’s as good as the first two, I think that it’s because Dairine’s character is the main one and also that the author has included more science fiction in High Wizardry than in So You Want to Be a Wizard and Deep Wizardry. Both of these books had some SF to them, like the idea of alternate and parallel universes, and traveling (albeit through wizardry) to the moon, but High Wizardry is maybe something like fifty percent Fantasy, and fifty percent SF, in comparison.
Personally, I like both SF and Fantasy novels and any mix of the two as long as the story is interesting. I thought that High Wizardry was a really good addition to the series. Yes, it focuses much more on Dairine, but Nita and Kit still are important and major characters in it. Since the novel is largely about the Ordeal Dairine has to accomplish and her becoming the latest wizard in Nita’s family it makes sense for her to take center stage in the novel and didn’t bother me at all. It will add a lot of potential directions for the other books in the series to go in.
If you are a fan of SF as well as Fantasy novels, like I am, then I believe you will also like reading High Wizardry!