The Wizard’s Dilemma continues the story of Nita and Kit, young wizards at work. If you haven’t read the others, you should. Though one could get through this and the others without prior knowledge, lack of background knowledge robs the reader of the full impact of the story.
The Wizard’s Dilemma is a darker, more personal book than the previous ones, which is made quickly clear when Nita’s mother is diagnosed with cancer. As one might expect, Nita turns to wizardry for a solution (as does Dairine). And as one might expect from Duane’s nuanced and depth-ridden series, the solution is nowhere so easy.
While Nita learns more about the necessary skills and knowledge via test runs in various “practice universes”, Kit is off in his own universe, literally. Or, to be more precise at the start, his dog’s universe (filled with thousands of squirrels to chase).
While Kit’s storyline is interesting in its own right, and lightens the darkness periodically, it is Nita’s plotline that drives the story and it does so in compelling fashion. These characters have deepened over the series and that depth comes into full play in this book. Along with the illness plot (which is never played for melodrama), Nita and Kit are going through a period of awkward estrangement as each tries to feel their way through their partnership while they and their personal worlds are changing. Despite the magical background, the characters’ reactions, their emotional interplay, their dialogue, all ring strongly true to reality. The ending is movingly effective, as is the book as a whole.
As mentioned above, this whole series is quite strong and this is one of the better books in the series. Strongly recommended.