Book Review – Games Wizards Play

Title: Games Wizards Play

Author:  Diane Duane

Format: Hardback

Year Published: 2016

I’m a long-time fan of Diane Duane. I discovered her Young Wizards book in high school, and pretty much fell in love immediately. So, in general, I was predisposed to like Games Wizards Play.

Games Wizards Play is the tenth book in her Young Wizards series, which is really nothing at all like Harry Potter, despite the surface similarities.

I very much enjoyed it, but I would not recommend it for people who have not read the rest of the series – there is some backstory given, but in general the author assumes that you’ve read and retained the previous books.

The book starts with a bang, literally, as Kit is involved in a war-game on the moon, and then we get flung into the ocean where Nita is testing out a type of shape-shifting spell that was brought up in previous books. Once away from Nita, we go to her sister Dairine, who is working with a mentor to learn to control suns. A quick introduction of our main cast, and then we’re introduced to the main plot: the Invitational, an event that occurs every 11 years where wizards are encouraged to build a spell that will allow them to show off to the whole world.

Nita, Kit, and Dairine are all selected to be mentors to wizards in the Invitational, and they find that they have challenges that they are not used to having.

The book was a solid offering in the Young Wizards universe, but it was not outstanding. Despite the book’s length, the ending felt very rushed as all of the problems were loaded upon the characters at once, rather than being allowed to be introduced earlier, and while the romance angle was necessary, based up on events of the previous book, it got more play time than it might necessarily have needed.

The ‘how do I navigate starting a romance with my best friend?’ question period Nita goes through is very true-to-life, however, and I loved the scene with her dad about it. I also loved Dairine a lot more in this book than I have in books previous – Nita has always been my favorite – but I do feel that our usual supporting cast are part of a check-list of people that should be mentioned, and then are shunted off to the side again.

The new supporting characters – Penn, Nita and Kit’s mentee; Mehrnaz, Dairine’s mentee; and Nelaid, Dairine’s mentor/Roshaun’s father – are very distinct characters. Not necessarily likeable (at least not all the time) but no character should always be likeable.

All in all, I enjoyed the book, and will reread it (though, perhaps, not as much as I’ve reread the first few books). 3/5 stars

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