RanVan: Magic Nation
Dave Jenkinson is a professor in the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba and the author of the “Portraits” section of Emergency Librarian.
Readers first met Rhan Van as a 15-year-old Vancouverite in RanVan: The
Defender and then as a 16-year-old in RanVan: A Worthy Opponent, which
was situated in Thunder Bay. The trilogy’s concluding volume, set
three years later, finds Rhan in Calgary, where he is enrolled in the
demanding Cinema, Television, Stage and Radio program at the Southern
Alberta Institute of Technology.
As a child, Rhan transmogrified the word “imagination” into
“Magic Nation,” a place of superheroes. Although the adult demands
of Rhan’s academic program and living independently have caused him to
abandon his video-game monicker of RanVan, the larger game of life calls
upon RanVan’s knightly talents when he again encounters his “worthy
opponent,” Lee Dahl, a.k.a. the Iceman, who has become involved in a
white supremacist group. In the book’s climactic episode, Rhan Van’s
real-world talents as a cameraman and RanVan’s chivalric qualities
ironically and tragically unite to produce what Rhan, at 15, had
originally sought to be—RanVan the Defender.
By removing Rhan from the “protected” world of adolescence and
placing him in the more adult setting of a postsecondary institution,
Wieler breaks new ground in Canadian young-adult literature. A series of
flashbacks fills in antecedent action for those unfamiliar with RanVan:
A Worthy Opponent. Although each of the previous novels provided Rhan
with a romantic interest, in Magic Nation he finds his true princess.