In this eighth book in Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series, the youngest wizards are left to fend for themselves. Their ancient enemy has orchestrated a cataclysmic event that is causing the universe to expand exponentially more rapidly, which is affecting not only the wizards and their powers, but the rest of the nonmagical population as well. As objects in the universe move farther away from each other, people move farther away emotionally, becoming easily angered and paranoid - which exacerbates an already difficult global political situation. The older, more experienced wizards inform Nita and Kit that shortly the the older wizards will lose their powers completely - and they will eventually forget that wizardry even exists.
Nita, Kit, and their other talented young wizardly friends (several from other planets) quickly realize that while the increased expansion of universe is alarming, fighting the symptom will not help. They must understand the cause. Their search takes them across the universe to hostile worlds where they must act on their own, without any guidance from their mentors. The stakes are high, but the wizards are committed and willing to make enormous sacrifices in their war against their dark enemy.
This series, which began with So You Want to Be a Wizard, is one I've been enjoying from the very beginning. The characters change and grow with each book, and there is very little recapping of previous books, so it is especially important to read this series in order. My library shelves this in the juvenile fiction section, but the vocabulary and complexity of the story would be difficult for elementary-age children (phrases like "inimical atmosphere" and "dark matter aggregates" might be a bit off-putting to some readers). But I like that Duane doesn't pull any punches. She has a story to tell, and she's going to tell it in the words that best suit it.
The space travel and alien worlds hold appeal to fans of science fiction, and fantasy readers will enjoy the complicated spells and wizardry. These elements, combined with complex personal relationships and insight into alien (and our own) minds make for an exciting, compelling read where much is at stake - and so much is worth fighting for.
1. So You Want to Be a Wizard
2. Deep Wizardry
3. High Wizardry
4. A Wizard Abroad
5. The Wizard's Dilemma
6. A Wizard Alone
7. A Wizard's Holiday Book
8. Wizards at War
Wizards at War by Diane Duane (Magic Carpet Books, 2007)