© Diane Duane, illustration © Greg Swearingen.
Another good outing in this fun fantasy series, with the focus this time on Dairine, Nita’s little sister, who it turns out has an even stronger facility for magic than Nita does. If you haven’t read the first two volumes of the series, “So You Want To Be A Wizard,” and “Deep Wizardry,” this is not a great place to start, but as it focuses on a mostly new character, it’s not a terrible place, either.
In the first two volumes, the key to learning about magic for Nita and her friend Kit was a book, a sort of magic compendium from which the first volume gets its title. In this one, young Dairine moves into the digital age; her learning tool is a magic laptop computer version of the book, one with seemingly endless power that can take her anywhere she can imagine. Dairine’s imagination is vast, and before long she’s halfway across the galaxy and in direct conflict with Nita and Kit’s (and all of our own planet’s) malignant enemy the Lone Power. When Nita and Kit find out about this, they set off to follow her, but don’t have an easy time of it.
Meanwhile, as Dairine learns about magic and her own talent for it, she finds herself on a distant planet where life is inherent in the very soil and just needs a spark from her to bring it forth. Unfortunately, the Lone Power is there, too, trying to turn that new life to his evil ways. The struggle that ensues is electronic, cosmic, and almost poetic, the eternal battle between good and evil. What has Dairine gotten herself into? How can she possibly get out of it alive?
I enjoyed this book, though at times the almost biblical struggle gets pretty far out there, as the author herself struggles to represent it in prose. The use of computer terms and tech talk, though perhaps a bit dated now, helps to ground things some. I’m not sure this kind of “cocky kid knowing little but daring much to try to save the universe” storyline is really appropriate for the series, the plot seems overblown and might have been better with a less portentious struggle. But as always I enjoyed the writing and the characters, and the concepts behind the series are entertaining. Recommended.