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So You Want To Be A Wizard

January 15, 2004

This book means a great deal to me. I couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8 when I first read this book. For whatever reason, that was a particularly important time in my life. Right around the same time, my mother had purchased me a Nintendo Entertainment System and Super Mario Brothers. Between this book and that game system, I found the basis of my livelihood and hobbies. I view my gaming and programming as a direct result of this book and squashing Goombas. So as you can imagine I’m a might partial to it.

Wizardry in the Young Wizards series is not the fire and brimstone warfare of Dungeons and Dragons or the “wave a wand” foolishness of Harry Potter. Wizardry in this series is governed by The Speech, a language understood at a fundamental level by everything in the universe, organic, mechanical, or otherwise. Through the use of the speech, a Wizard can manipulate the universe around him and, in doing so, slow down the decay of all things. Because, in the end, that’s what Wizards are for in these books. To slow down entropy, which was brought about by the Lone Power. The series is a classic tale of good vs. evil, but it’s much better than any sword and sorcery hack job. The good in this tale is a pair of regular kids with foibles, problems and insecurities. And the evil is not a stark wave of blackness that holds no caring in its heart. Evil can be good, and good can be evil. Shockingly enough, the world is not black and white. And that’s where the great storytelling of the Young Wizards series gets it’s charm.

The first book in the series begins with Nita fleeing some school-mates, who are in pursuit and intent on beating her up. This is a common problem for quiet, nebbishly nerdy Nita, who would much rather just sit on a curb on the playground and read rather than have to deal with any of the other children. In her attempt to escape, she flees into the library. At the behest of the librarian, who knows why she arrived so suddenly through the door, Nita hides in the downstairs children’s book section. There, her finger is snagged by an old book, entitled So You Want to be a Wizard. Nita sits down to read, and quickly realizes that this book is no joke. Later that night she takes the Oath, reading out loud the contract that Wizards must sign with the universe at large, and the next day steps head-first into her Wizardry Ordeal. Every Wizard, upon coming into their own power, must go on something of a small quest to prove their worth to the Powers that have invested so much energy in them. During her preparations she encounters Kit, another kid at her school who is also a Wizard. They attempt a minor spell together, and in doing so manage to attract the attention of a vast dark intelligence. Frightened and vulnerable, they open out the spell to a friendly influence. Finding one, they tap into it and manage to pull themselves free. The friendly influence, unfortunately, comes with them. The influence turns out to be a heavenly body, a white star named Fred.

Nita, Kit, and Fred end up on an encounter completely outside our own dimension, in the heart of the territory claimed by the Lone Power. During the course of their quest, they befriend a car, trick a dragon, and watch the sun be snuffed out. So You Want to Be a Wizard, because of its role as the first in the series, is something of a roller coaster ride of a book. You learn a great deal about the workings of Wizardry at the start of the book, and then have to hold onto your seat as Nita and Kit ride the rapids of their Ordeal.

So You Want to Be A Wizard is the groundbreaking book in an excellent series. The protagonists are interesting, likable characters, and the antagonist is The Antagonist, the one who brought death into the world just because he could. The villain is a villain you can feel good about hating, and the heroes are scared thirteen year olds. Even though the writing is somewhat aimed at teenagers, you don’t have to worry about high school melodrama in this, or any Wizardry book. If you have any love of words, reading, and fantasy, this book simply is a must read. Don’t bog yourself down with the thought of having to read six more books after this one, just read this one for the sake of reading it. If you want to read more, read more. Just don’t deny yourself the opportunity of reading this thoroughly enjoyable book.

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  1. The first three books in this series were part of the last to be purchased at hpb before I quit. Im glad you like them so much! I havn’t read them yet actually (although that shouldn’t be a surprize.) Im reading the Golden Compass and its so VERY good. A few people I know think the Pulman series His Dark Materials is better than the Harry Potter series. (That remains to be seen.)



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