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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on November 11, 2000
Format: Hardcover
I've read all of the Wizard series by Diane Duane, and this is definitely the best yet. According to Nita(Juanita)'s parents, she and and her wizardry partner, Kit (Christopher), have been spending way too much time together. Her parents just can't understand that there's NOTHING going on between them, just magic. Nonetheless, Juanita is packed up and sent to live with her aunt in Ireland for six weeks until school starts. Grudgingly, Nita settles in with her aunt, and even starts enjoying a little break from magic, but it's not too long until she realizes how much trouble Ireland is really in, and how one little shift of power in the wrong direction could destroy it. It's up to Nita, Kit, and a few new characters to gather the tools they need and re-enact an ancient battle, or accept their fates. The story is set with Duane's typical magic, melded together with Irish lore to make one of the most creative and thrilling fantasy books of today.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Three words: I LOVED IT! This is definitely one of the best young adult type books around. One of my all-time favorite books (like the others in the series), A WIZARD ABROAD kept me captivated till the end (an I still want MORE!). With the addition of Dairine, Nita's younger sister, who is my favorite character (sorry, Nita or Kit fans), this and the book before it, HIGH WIZARDRY, are my favorites. Please, read this book! I've had many people turn it down, but those who take my advice are glad! They agree: A WIZARD ABROAD IS THE BEST! ( but read the others first! )
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
Somewhere between Madeleine L'Engle and Judy Blume is where this book by Diane Duane fits in.

I hadn't paid attention to the fact that this was a 4th book in a series. I was caught by the cover and title and took it home with me. Despite plunging into #4 without any background on the series, it wasn't hard to pick up and follow - the story in this book stood on its own and didn't require a lot of 'flashback' referencing.

The writing is strong enough - and well-suited for the teenage crowd that Duane seems to be targeting. The magical adventures and lore is interspersed with teen angst and qualms, "Not important stuff, like kissing -- how do you do it and still breathe? Is not wearing a bra a come-on?"

Much more adult than the Harry Potter series, Duane goes right into battles with thick descriptions - and death in tow, not shying away from the facts of things. She also takes the time to tuck in the myth, history and lore that flush out the story.

A good read - I'll take the time sometime to go back to #1 and roll forward.

However - the writing here should steer readers to progress toward similarly crafted books by Alan Garner, Madeleine L'Engle, or Ursula K. LeGuin.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
"'Aunt Annie, who were all those people out there with the horses?...The hooves were right outside my door, but when I looked, they'd gone away. Didn't take them long,' she added.

Aunt Annie looked at her again as she came over and put Nita's teacup down. Her expression was rather different this time. 'Oh,' she said. 'You mean the ghosts.'

Nita stared.

'Welcome to Ireland,' said her aunt."

- tea with the Callahan family

At a minimum, read SO YOU WANT TO BE A WIZARD (which introduces Nita, Kit, and to a lesser extent Nita's sister Dairine) and HIGH WIZARDRY (which further develops Dairine) before tackling this book. If you haven't read them yet, shoo.

Unlike several of the later Young Wizards books, in A WIZARD ABROAD only Nita Callahan is a viewpoint character, for the very good reason that her parents are behaving as one might expect good parents of a fourteen-year-old wizard to behave. They're worried about this magic thing, worried that their daughter has a very close relationship with a boy her own age (Kit, her partner in wizardry), and they want Nita and Kit to take a break from each other. In short, they're packing Nita off to her aunt in Ireland for the summer, after extracting a promise that Nita won't use any transport spells to visit Kit on the sly.

(In my perhaps jaded opinion, the wizardry isn't the most fantastic element about the story. That honour goes to Nita getting a passport without her having a great deal more advance notice about the situation. A close second would be that Nita's parents don't telephone her regularly.)

The point that Nita can't at first make clear to her parents is that the Oath is for life, and she'll still be a wizard in Ireland just as much as if she were back home in Nassau County. The point that Nita herself has overlooked is that her wizardry comes from her father's side of the family, which makes staying with his sister more interesting than anticipated. :) And taking a break from Kit - though not quite as her parents had in mind - does have some effects, since Nita now has a chance to work with different wizards near her own age.

Like its predecessor, DEEP WIZARDRY, this entry in the series explores how wizards who don't come from Nita's particular background may interact with their wizardry differently (as well as, of course, a dire emergency coming up; being a wizard is analogous to being a fire-fighter that way, in that emergencies are a way of life). As with the whale-wizards of the ocean, Irish wizards don't use a manual in book form, but rather have a more bardic tradition of carrying magic in memory. They've also got different problems than wizards in the New World do, the equivalent of magical toxic waste having accumulated from many centuries of magic use and sharing the land with the Fair Folk, non-humans who have their own traditions.

This volume may require some mental adjustments on the reader's part, since a certain amount of Gaelic dialogue happens, as well as Irish legends being filled in by stories-within-a-story.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 19, 2001
Format: Paperback
I discovered this book earlier this year, and I thought that in comparison to the other books in Duane's Young Wizards series (So You Want to be a Wizard; Deep Wizardry; High Wizardry) this was not as spectacular. If you are into mythology (especially Celtic myth) this is perfect. I had to read this book twice to understand some of the myth, and the magic in this book is very different than the solo/partner efforts of Kit and Nita in the previous books. I wouldn't read this unless you've read the other three books, since there are plenty of references to the other books, and it would give you a better idea of the relationship between Kit and Nita, as well as Dairine and the "Lone Power."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on December 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is probably my favorite book in the whole world (except for probably Deep Wizardry.) Diane Duane is the best fantasy writer in the world, at least to me, right up there with J.R.R. Tolkein, E. Nesbit, and J.K. Rowling. My only complaint is that there's no sequel. PLEASE, Diane Duane, write more of these books!
And that's all I have to say.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
In the fourth installment of Diane Duane's "Young Wizards" series, chronicling the adventures of modern day teens who are professional wizards in a world-wide organization, our fourteen-year-old heroine Nita Callahan again travels to a new location to do battle with the fearsome Lone Power. She's been to the bottom of the Ocean and the far reaches of the universe, but this time she's going someplace even stranger: Ireland.
Ireland for a wizard is a dangerous place; it's steeped in magical powers, creatures, gateways to other worlds, and dangerously overlapping areas of old spells. And it seems that Ireland has become the center of a growing disturbance that will consume the whole world unless Nita and the other wizards of the area can come together and awaken the powers of country's sacred magic objects. And to think that Nita's parents were just sending her here for summer vacation! A wizard's work is never done.
After a bit of a dip in quality in the previous book, "High Wizardry," Diane Duane bounces back in this wonderful trip through the mythology of Ireland. Duane lives in Ireland and has extensive knowledge of the land and its legends, and she helps to create a vivid, living picture of the Emerald Isle as seen through Nita's eyes. As usual with this series, the story walks a thin line between ancient magic and modern attitude. Imagine what our world would be like if Celtic gods suddenly jumped into the middle of our cities, and you have something approaching Diane Duane's style in this book. This is, however, the most traditionally high fantasy novel of the series, with less focus on the pseudo-scientific magic background that dominates the earlier books. We're on familiar medieval fantasy ground here with the gods and spirits of Ireland (and there's a glossary to help out), and people who loved the scientific aspects of the first three novels may not enjoy this one as much. In general, however, this is one the quickest moving of all the books and the scene setting is superb.
Nita takes center stage; her sister Dairene and wizard partner Kit only appear in certain sections. Nita has grown a lot since the series started, and for the first time she faces the possibility of genuine romance with a boy -- a handsome Irish wizard named Ronan. Unfortunately for both of them, Ronan's part in the adventure might be larger than they guess.
For anyone who has enjoyed the Harry Potter novels, the entire "Young Wizards" series is highly recommended (it starts with "So You Want to Be a Wizard.") Be warned, however, that this is definitely a different kind of reading experience, and you may be hooked.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2006
Format: Paperback
A Wizard Abroad is not a poor book, but it is probably my least favorite in the series at the moment. At another point it was my favorite, though, so that means little. It has some very high points, and some parts that I would have liked to see explained better.

Low points:

The Lone Power. In the previous book (High Wizardry) the Lone Power stops being evil, although It warns that as the Powers are beings outside of time, its evil "past" self is still extant and dangerous. But now, when the Lone One's incarnation of Balor, there is no impact at all. There is no mention of the bright side of the Lone One, although it could have been worked in. I would have liked to know if Nita was thinking of the paradox.

The first three books were almost a trilogy. I'm glad they weren't- there are WAY Too many trilogies as is- but this book may suffer because it's jsut after those. The nature of the trilogy changes, the nature of wizardry changes, and this is the transition between the power of the first 3 books and the finer, less-brute-force wizardry of the latter ones.

High points

I loved the Irish myths in this book. I had heard of Cuculain and Emer. (Cuculain was a hero, whose name means "Hound of Culain" for the time he spent defending Culain's house in place of Culain's hound, which he had killed. Emer was his wife- as usual, the most beautiful woman in the world; not so usually, a woman so wise that few people could understand her. Fortunately Cuculain was one of those people, because they carried out their courtship in riddles.) Anyway, I'd heard of them, and been glad that one myth heroine at least was intelligent. I liked meeting her in this story.

The sidhe are described very well, and hte word fairy/faerie is never used. THat's good- no silliness. These people are powerful, and while they definitely aren't evil, neither are they safe to be around.

The story itself is based around Irish myth and legend- the Treasures, the battle of Moytura, Tualha's (she's a cat-bard) stories, and the villains.

Nita does not get into a romance. I am a teenager, even though I'm using the kid's format, and I am really sick of omnipresent romance. Nita and Ronan kiss once before he runs off because she reminds him of the bright Power "Michael/Lugh/Thor/Prometheus/Athene/Peach (yes, Peach: she appeared in the last book as a machaw)".

Mixed, but good.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Paperback
Nita's parents were probably right to be concerned. For a 14-year-old young woman she was spending altogether too much time with one young man. Even if Kit was the only other wizard in the neighborhood, and all the two ever did was to practice their wizardry and go on quests. But parents rarely listen to reason when their worried, and so Nita is packed off to Ireland to spend six weeks with her aunt Annie. A nice break, they think, from all the pressures of wizardry and, er, boys.

And so it would have been is half the legends of Ireland weren't suddenly reappearing, and being nasty about it as well. Something has wakened Ireland's spirit world and Nita quickly discovered that Ireland's wizards were up to their neck in conflicts with the Unseelie Court. Magic in Ireland is a differenct thing entirely from what Nita is used to. There is so much magic laying about from that countries long history that a spell cast without forethought can have disastrous results.

Somehow Balor, king of the Fomori and possessor of an eye that will surely destroy whatever it looks at, has woken, and now plans to complete his old plans for conquest. The wizards determine that the best way to oppose him is to re-enact the battle of Moytura, in which he was originally defeated. For this they will need to awaken four magic artifacts, the cauldron of rebirth, the sword Fragarach, the stone or destiny, and a spear called Luin. Only with these things have they a chance against the dark magic and evil aspect of Balor's deadly eye.

If that may be Nita's biggest problem, it is hardly the only one, for true to summer vacations she finds another wizard whom she likes enough to kiss. This is all the more unsettling in that her relationship with Kit is still a bit undefined. This becomes more confusing when Kit himself manages to appear and Nita must deal with strong feelings for the first time. Between romance, the quest for the treasures, and the impending battle, Nita has a lot to deal with.

While this isn't as emotional a story as the previous three books, Diane Duane keeps your interest by a careful mix of personality and the arcane history of Ireland. Things are serious, but there is always a light humorous touch to relieve the impending darkness, including a kitten bard who can climb chimneys when needful. Once again Duane proves that books for young adults don't have to be childish.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This is one of my favorite books. The whole concept of unknown magical beings is very interesting to me. I found this book and the three before it very creative stories. Diane Duane is definitely one of the greatest writers of wizarding books right after J.K. Rowling. I have only one complaint, Where's the next one?????
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