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The Wizard's Dilemma    by Diane Duane order for
Wizard's Dilemma
by Diane Duane
Order:  USA  Can
Magic Carpet, 2002 (2001)
Hardcover, Paperback, Audio

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* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

I enjoyed the first of this Young Wizards series, So You Want to Be a Wizard, and then skipped to this 5th episode. Nita has developed her skills in the meantime, as well as her relationship with fellow wizard Kit. Both sets of parents are aware of (though not entirely comfortable with) their children's abilities, and Nita's younger sister Dairine has also developed into a powerful young wizard with her own tasks to perform.

This episode begins with rare conflict between Kit and Nita, in disagreement over techniques to use to clean up local water pollution. Kit argues that Nita's approach is over-complicated and turns out to be right. They are both disturbed by the argument. Then Kit's dog Ponch leads him to the investigation of an 'adjunct talent', a way to make new universes. At the same time, Nita is devastated by her mother's sudden collapse and the diagnosis of a brain tumor. She searches desperately for means of magical assistance to her mother's healing, which leads to her being faced with 'the wizard's dilemma' and to some very bad choices indeed.

The author has created a remarkable (and highly technical) magical construct, on which her young heroes' wizardry is based. While some will enjoy it, I find it over-complicated and tend to skip over those parts. Despite that, I enjoyed this episode (and found it better than the first) for its emotional depth in dealing with a beloved mother's terminal illness. Nita must temper her independence with an acceptance of Kit's help, as she learns more about partnership and about the 'hard wall of impossibility'. And I especially enjoyed the Transcendent Pig, as well as Nita's mother's 'Get off my turf!' confrontation with the Lone Power.

The Young Wizards series matured in The Wizard's Dilemma, dealing with tough issues of life, death and the afterlife. Don't miss episode #6, A Wizard Alone, now available in hardcover.

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