Deep Wizardry (Young Wizards #2) by Diane Duane
"Deep Wizardry" picks up roughly two months after the events of "So You Want to Be a Wizard." The Callahans have gone on vacation to Tiana Beach in the Hamptons. They have rented a cottage for a two-week period and have brought Kit and Kit's dog, Ponch, with them.
One night, while Kit, Nita, and Ponch are swimming, a dolphin comes to ask them for assistance. A humpback whale was caught in the detonation of an explosive harpoon, and the blood from the injury has attracted sharks. Nita heals the wound of the whale, whose name is S'reee, and S'reee formally requests the assistance of the two wizards.
The Lone Power did not take his recent defeat at the hands of Nita and Kit well, and now It is troubling the beings that live in the ocean. A version of the Lone Power has been trapped under the ocean since the whale wizards made their Choice and It is currently rising. It is imperative that a ritual called the Song of the Twelve be performed to keep It trapped, and since Nita and Kit are currently famous for their defeat of the Lone One, S'reee wants them to participate in the Song.
When the whale wizards were offered their Choice, three of the ten lords who ruled the sea rejected it, three accepted it, and three were left undecided. The tenth, known as the Silent Lord, was the tiebreaker. She accepted the gift, but sacrificed herself to change the "gift" that the Lone One offered into something else.
Since they are humans, Nita and Kit will need to change into whales to perform the Song. Nita can do it with a spell called a shapechange. Since she had to exchange blood with S'reee to heal her, Nita's body now has humpback whale DNA in it and can take the shape of the whale easily. S'reee provides something called a "whalesark" for Kit. A whalesark is a copy of the underbrain of a whale made at the time of the whale's death. The whale that provided the whalesark was a sperm whale, which means that Kit spends quite a lot of this book in the shape of a sperm whale.
Meanwhile, things are getting tense in the Callahan household. Nita and Kit are sneaking out earlier and earlier and staying out later and later. Nita's parents are starting to worry about what Nita and Kit are getting up to. Nita's mom, Betty, suspects that they are experimenting with sex. Dairine, Nita's sister, knows better, however. She has found Nita's manual and she can see it for what it is. This indicates that Dairine has an aptitude for wizardry that, due to her young age, may possibly be greater than Nita's.
Nita learns an expensive lesson in this volume. Nita cannot sing, so when she finds out that the tenth wizard is known as the "Silent Lord," she opts to play that role. Playing the Silent Lord turns out to require a sacrifice that Nita may not be ready to make.
I love this book. It is one of my favorites in the series. We see more of some of our favorite characters (and in the case of Carl, who makes a cameo appearance in a towel, a lot more) and meet some new ones, including S'reee and Ponch. There is Hotshot, the dolphin who first asks Nita and Kit for help when S'reee is injured. Nita and Kit also get to know a shark whose very long name they end up shortening to "Ed." Ed will be singing the part of the Pale Slayer, the shark who "accepted the Silent Lord's sacrifice."
Some of the language, particularly S'reee's explanation of the Lone Power and the Song itself, is beautiful. It helps that the first time I read this was as an audiobook, which really emphasizes the lyrical qualities of the Song.
"Deep Wizardry" also has several battle scenes against kraken, which are giant squid, which seem to me to be a little hard to follow. This may be the result, at least in part, of the fact that, since the attackers are squid, their ink clouds the water. On the other hand, it could just be my personal difficulty following battle scenes.
There are a couple of errors, but nothing that a sharp-eyed editor couldn't fix. One that stuck out at me was that at one point, S'reee makes reference to breeds of dolphins. Dolphins don't have breeds. They have species. The other thing that sticks out at me is that S'reee tells Kit something about the whalesark and when the time comes, exactly the opposite of what S'reee warned Kit about happens. I hope these are fixed in the New Millennium Edition of "Deep Wizardry."
We find out more about the cosmology behind the "Young Wizards" series. Something that we find out here that becomes important both in this volume and in future volumes is that the Powers exist beyond time itself, in a place where, as S'reee puts it, "things don't have to happen one after another." In this way, the Lone One was in his personal universe with its dark New York City and under the Atlantic Ocean simultaneously.
Additionally, the idea that words have power permeates this book. This is particularly evident when Nita is at loggerheads with her parents over the amount of time she and Kit have been spending out of the house. She fears lying, because the words that wizards use change reality. The way that Nita and Kit solve this dilemma makes this series one that I recommend highly during any discussions of the reality of series where the child protagonists are engaged in life-or-death adventures without adult supervision.
Most of the continuity is pretty good, except for a strange moment when Nita is surprised that non-wizards can get into Timeheart. This was odd since Nita saw both Fred and the Lotus in Timeheart at the end of "So You Want to Be a Wizard," and I didn't see any indication that either one of them was a wizard.