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His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize t His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize the extent of his powers, and they issue an order that turns Christopher's life upside down: Go to Chrestomanci Castle to train to be the controller of all the world's magic.


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His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize t His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize the extent of his powers, and they issue an order that turns Christopher's life upside down: Go to Chrestomanci Castle to train to be the controller of all the world's magic.

30 review for The Lives of Christopher Chant

  1. 4 out of 5

    mark monday

    this prequel to Charmed Life gives the mysterious and urbane Chrestomanci (multi-dimensional policeman of all things magical) his own backstory. this was a wonderful kid's novel, swiftly-paced and enjoyable from beginning to end. i loved the connectivity between this book and its predecessor, seeing the basic similarities and differences between Cat and Christopher, their similar reactions to their current Chrestomanci and Chrestomanci Castle, their different ways of not being magical, their simi this prequel to Charmed Life gives the mysterious and urbane Chrestomanci (multi-dimensional policeman of all things magical) his own backstory. this was a wonderful kid's novel, swiftly-paced and enjoyable from beginning to end. i loved the connectivity between this book and its predecessor, seeing the basic similarities and differences between Cat and Christopher, their similar reactions to their current Chrestomanci and Chrestomanci Castle, their different ways of not being magical, their similar abandonments and the different ways their families let them down, their different sorts of victimhood and their similar ways of finally taking command. the girls that they sorta fall for. the relatives who betray them. their mutual destiny. Cat and Christopher are both very special people who are trapped by that destiny. i liked how Jones did not sugarcoat the trap. being Chrestomanci is neither boy's dream, and the job is never turned into anything approaching wish fulfillment - despite its power, and despite its potential for wonder and adventure. she made this grand position - master of all magic, traveler throughout all dimensions - somehow prosaic. even rather dreary. a smart and surprising choice by the author. i think that Jones also captures Christopher's age perfectly. his young voice and thought process are what guide the reader, and so we get to see things with both objective distance and a subjectiveness that allows us to be fooled along with Christopher himself - fooled by the people around him and fooled by himself into acting in certain ways, refusing to believe obvious truths and eager to believe obvious deception. he is not always a nice boy - at times sulky, arrogant, or unkind. but he is also often quite kind, and brave, and good. a well-rounded boy! Jones' writing style conveys all of this in an appealingly straightforward and rather tidy style. even better, she shows how a boy can change, sometimes slowly over time, sometimes in a great big rush, eyes suddenly opened and aware of his own biases and his own strengths. plus it has Throgmorten, best magical cat from another dimension ever!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Spencer Orey

    I liked this better than Charmed Life, even though it’s a prequel. Fun stuff. There were some cliche trappings that shouldn’t have worked (rich neglected kid who is somehow nice and who finds out he’s super duper magical but finds a way to be even nicer). And the whole nine lives and multiverse idea doesn’t make sense at all, but all that was somehow okay because this was such fun to read! I’m curious to see where the series goes from here. There’s also a pretty deep idea here about the disconnect I liked this better than Charmed Life, even though it’s a prequel. Fun stuff. There were some cliche trappings that shouldn’t have worked (rich neglected kid who is somehow nice and who finds out he’s super duper magical but finds a way to be even nicer). And the whole nine lives and multiverse idea doesn’t make sense at all, but all that was somehow okay because this was such fun to read! I’m curious to see where the series goes from here. There’s also a pretty deep idea here about the disconnect between kids and adults. The adults here are trying to use the kids for their own purposes, setting them on tracks and trying to exploit their talents. The kids have to learn how to communicate effectively, lie well, and learn to find their own way through all the pressure and influences. (Okay but seriously, there’s a multiverse of worlds in series but somehow they mostly have some kind of generic British thing going on? Honestly now. I don’t believe for a second that a world like ours but with magic would be so similar.) I’ll have to track down book 3. I’m excited to see what’s next.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lumsden

    Thoroughly enjoyable - one of my favourite Diana Wynne Jones books so far. Great fun, entertaining, compelling and just a lovely read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rachel (Kalanadi)

    Wonderful like I remembered. I love putting all the pieces together. The ending with the people of Eleven wasn't the best, sadly. I think the 'noble savage people' idea is showing its age. Wonderful like I remembered. I love putting all the pieces together. The ending with the people of Eleven wasn't the best, sadly. I think the 'noble savage people' idea is showing its age.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Arie

    I don't think I'll ever get over how fantastic this series is. I don't think I'll ever get over how fantastic this series is.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Cat M

    Reread for the umpteenth millionth time. The Lives of Christopher Chant wasn't my first DWJ, or even my first Chrestomanci book, that was Charmed Life, which I acquired at about 8 and read until it was falling apart. This one I had to get from the library for years before picking up my own copy, so I didn't read it as many times as a kid, but over time it's become my absolute favourite of the series. I love that, not to put too fine a point on it, Christopher is a complete asshole for quite a lot Reread for the umpteenth millionth time. The Lives of Christopher Chant wasn't my first DWJ, or even my first Chrestomanci book, that was Charmed Life, which I acquired at about 8 and read until it was falling apart. This one I had to get from the library for years before picking up my own copy, so I didn't read it as many times as a kid, but over time it's become my absolute favourite of the series. I love that, not to put too fine a point on it, Christopher is a complete asshole for quite a lot of this book, but in a very believable way. He's a sheltered kid whose been lied to and had stuff hidden from him his whole life. He makes the choice to trust the first adult who treats him like a competent, autonomous human being, and furiously resents the ones who keep dragging him from place to place with no seeming interest in his own cares and desires. This all makes quite reasonable sense! Also, he has the emotional intelligence of a ROCK. He's a kid who's never been taught empathy or how to think about other people's needs as well as his own. He's fumbling around learning these skills on his own, because the few adults he interacted with as a small child spectacularly failed to model them to him. But at heart he is caring and kind and considerate, just in a kind of autocratic-leaning kind of way. The scene where he helps Throgmorten escape is one of my favourites in the entire series, because it's one of the first times we really see that kindness come out in an overt way. His gradual burgeoning friendship with Millie is wonderful. The way he doesn't realize they've become friends until well after it's already happened. The way Millie figures out his magical silver allergy before he does. And the way he handles a bedraggled Goddess showing up on his doorstep while the entire world is already falling down around his ears. As for Millie, well, I've idolized Millie since I was eight years old, and that hasn't changed. She's just so practical. Not necessarily sensible, she's still a kid after all, but practical and decisive and confident in a way small child me always wanted to be. I've also always loved Mordecai Roberts and Flavian Temple, the way their friendship and betrayal and renewed friendship plays out in the text, but also the very different ways Christopher treats them. The dashing and rake-like Tacroy he takes to instantly because he's part of the grand adventures of the Anywheres, but the more upright yet kind Flavian he immediately resents because he represents the restrictions of the Castle that he does want to be in and does not understand. Mordecai and Flavian are set up as opposites, but are really actually remarkably similar when it comes down to it, and the scene where Flavian finally loses his temper with Christopher is perfect. As a child I always recognized myself in that scene, because I could be so like Flavian. I would hold it all in and be quiet and polite and friendly until suddenly some little thing was just too much and all my anger would burst out of me in a torrent. I kept coming back to DWJ's books as a kid and keep coming back to them as an adult because she really got kids, in a way that was neither sappy or moralizing. Children's wonder and excitement and obsessive passions, sure, but also their self-centredness and shortsightedness and difficulty understanding the consequences of their actions. And she shows them learning and changing and discovering in the most delightful and believable of ways.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Libby

    I don't know how to accurately describe my love for this book. Every time I read it I feel more strongly (and I think on average, I read it about twice a year, so I feel very strongly about it indeed!) Never-mind that it's a "children's book" (whatever that means). It's beautiful, it's timeless, it's rich and it's subtle. I adore it. I first read it when I was about ten. This and "Witch Week" were in the two little bookshelves at the back of my fifth-grade classroom, and as you do when you're a t I don't know how to accurately describe my love for this book. Every time I read it I feel more strongly (and I think on average, I read it about twice a year, so I feel very strongly about it indeed!) Never-mind that it's a "children's book" (whatever that means). It's beautiful, it's timeless, it's rich and it's subtle. I adore it. I first read it when I was about ten. This and "Witch Week" were in the two little bookshelves at the back of my fifth-grade classroom, and as you do when you're a ten-year-old bookworm, I had carefully gone through almost every book there over the course of the school year, leaving only those that looked uninteresting. Somehow I'd missed Diana Wynne Jones (I think the covers of those editions were a little strange, and I was conscious of covers at ten.) But I'd read almost all of the other books, and it was there, and so I took it to my desk to read instead of listening to my Social Studies lesson. It ended up being the kind of book that was impossible to put down. I think I got in trouble about it a few times. I liked it and I finished it and it went on my mental "good book" list (which at the time meant that I would someday read it again, when I got around to it.) That was that for a few years. I didn't recommend it to anyone but my sister. I loved Christopher's dream journeys, his parents' strange aloofness, his carelessness with his lives, Tacroy's secrets, the Goddess turning into Millie, the cricket matches, and that bold, beautiful moment of release when Dr. Pawson coaxes Christopher's magic out of him -- but I thought my friends would find it strange, and so I didn't tell them about it. It was a kind of private book. I wanted it to be all mine, so that nobody could corrupt it. Somehow, this translated to me reading it year by year, eagerly and thirstily, sucking in all the multi-layeredness and life lessons that I'd missed on previous rereads. It's THAT kind of book -- it's full of things that you don't fully understand the first time, that you have to get older to appreciate, or that you have to think about in a certain way to comprehend. I've read it at least ten times, and I don't even think I've found everything yet. I love the other Chrestomancis too, but they pale in comparison to this one. I don't know WHAT it is -- I've tried to put my finger on it for years, and I can't. The other books are multi-layered too, with characters just as dynamic, plots just as complex, as this one. Maybe it's what whoever-it-was said, that quote about reading a book at the right age, and it leaving an impression on you forever. It really did. I don't want it to be my secret anymore. It frustrates me ridiculously that nobody seems to have read this book. I want people to read it. I want to run around on rooftops and FORCE people to read it. (But at the same time, I do appreciate that there isn't a wild and rabid fandom rushing to make memes or write frightening fanfiction. That's nice. That kind of reaction destroys books' dignity, and the dignity of Christopher Chant would be a terrible thing to mess with.) At any rate, that's all I'm able to say about it. I love this book with an enormous, wild passion, and I think I always will.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Melissa McShane

    This is my favorite of the Chrestomanci books, and to my surprise I had completely forgotten the final confrontation. I guess it's been a while. The Lives of Christopher Chant lacks the strong through-line of Charmed Life, which is maybe why the latter is more generally popular, but I enjoy the development of Christopher as a character and the exploration of the Related Worlds. There's also some of DWJ's trademark subtle horror, such as (view spoiler)[the revelation that the squishy fish-smelling This is my favorite of the Chrestomanci books, and to my surprise I had completely forgotten the final confrontation. I guess it's been a while. The Lives of Christopher Chant lacks the strong through-line of Charmed Life, which is maybe why the latter is more generally popular, but I enjoy the development of Christopher as a character and the exploration of the Related Worlds. There's also some of DWJ's trademark subtle horror, such as (view spoiler)[the revelation that the squishy fish-smelling packages Christopher handled were dismembered mermaids (hide spoiler)] and her wonderful feline characters. I really love Throgmorton the Temple Cat. The narrator for the audiobook rendered his yowl perfectly. This is also best experienced as a prequel, because there is something really fun about seeing the Chrestomanci of Charmed Life as an ordinary, lonely, occasionally bratty boy. So read at least Charmed Life and possibly also Witch Week, and then give this one a shot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elana

    This is my favorite of the Chrestomanci Quartet by leaps and bounds. Jones' pacing is impeccable, and there is never a dull moment. While her ability to spin everything together in endings is a bit lackluster in some of the other books -- Magicians of Caprona and Charmed Life being the worst offenders -- here we have a wonderful buildup to a very fulfilling climax. Her characters are vivacious and likable (even when they are doing unlikeable things), her wit is as sharp as ever, the magic is bri This is my favorite of the Chrestomanci Quartet by leaps and bounds. Jones' pacing is impeccable, and there is never a dull moment. While her ability to spin everything together in endings is a bit lackluster in some of the other books -- Magicians of Caprona and Charmed Life being the worst offenders -- here we have a wonderful buildup to a very fulfilling climax. Her characters are vivacious and likable (even when they are doing unlikeable things), her wit is as sharp as ever, the magic is brilliantly simple in a complex sort of way, which is my very favorite type of magic . . . and there is even a dragon. This story brought something of the Young Me back to life. I'd remembered very little of it apart from the general overview (and it turns out I'd been conflating this story with the one in Charmed Life), so it really was like reading it for the first time. I loved the magic system. It helped illuminate the path I'd taken to becoming a magic-writer. I loved the adventure aspect. It reminded me that I'd once been someone who loved going on adventures -- big or small, it didn't matter. And I loved simply reading it. It made me realize that perhaps I'm not quite as different from Young Me as I'd imagined. I started reading to settle my brain before sleep, and as you can see, I stayed up half the night. Not due to anxiety or depression, Thank Shivnath . . . simply because I *had* to know what happened on the next page. I remember now the days before PCs and Smartphones, when books were all I had. How much I loved them. What good company they were. What adventures I had alone, in my room. This book brought out the best in me -- it was just like old times. I felt like myself again after closing it. It is a rare and truly magical book that can make you feel things so deeply, and something here resonated with me on a profound level. For that, I am supremely grateful. Five stars, easily, hands down.

  10. 5 out of 5

    nastyako

    Where Charmed Life and Magicians of Caprona were more on a kiddie side of the series, somewhere around Witch week the series started to grow up. This one is the 4th in the series and it has definitely a more complex plot. I really loved this book till almost the end. The landing was rocky, DWJ sometimes rushes in the end, story became a bit too convoluted. But I loved young boy Chrestomanci and The Living Asheth very much. Where Charmed Life and Magicians of Caprona were more on a kiddie side of the series, somewhere around Witch week the series started to grow up. This one is the 4th in the series and it has definitely a more complex plot. I really loved this book till almost the end. The landing was rocky, DWJ sometimes rushes in the end, story became a bit too convoluted. But I loved young boy Chrestomanci and The Living Asheth very much.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    Review to come

  12. 4 out of 5

    beatricks

    Of the three Chrestomanci books I've read so far, this was easily my favorite. I've enjoyed DWJ's style from day one, but this is where everything came together for me and I developed really strong feelings about plot and relationships. I love how DWJ just goes for it in terms of frankly messed up subject matter but still keeps things brisk and funny. She does a great job of putting us in the tight POV of Christopher as a very young child as well as when he gets older, so that we share much of h Of the three Chrestomanci books I've read so far, this was easily my favorite. I've enjoyed DWJ's style from day one, but this is where everything came together for me and I developed really strong feelings about plot and relationships. I love how DWJ just goes for it in terms of frankly messed up subject matter but still keeps things brisk and funny. She does a great job of putting us in the tight POV of Christopher as a very young child as well as when he gets older, so that we share much of his interpersonal obliviousness even as we pick up on plot cues that he doesn't. I felt (and enjoyed) that Tacroy seemed to be a guest from a Wharton novel or the like, off in some seedy garret full of opium or laudanum. But the actual twist was even better! What a well-drawn character and set of relationships (including his with Miss Rosalie). I also loved the Goddess, although I was pretty annoyed that she and the rest of the people in her world seem to be white. This annoyance doubled when it became clear that Tacroy -- and the entire rest of his (evil, extra alien) world -- are not white. Because of course they are. SMH Still, overall really loved this book and am excited to read more about Christopher and Millie.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Roslyn

    Another 5 stars for this re-read. Every re-read of a DWJ book seems to bring something new or at least emphasises in capital letters something I've long felt about her as a writer. After my recent re-read of Charmed Life, this book again strongly reminded me how DWJ's villains are villains not because they are cartoonishly Evil but because they knowingly and callously use people and fail to value people simply as people. It also hit me how different and more vivid DWJ's children's and YA books (a Another 5 stars for this re-read. Every re-read of a DWJ book seems to bring something new or at least emphasises in capital letters something I've long felt about her as a writer. After my recent re-read of Charmed Life, this book again strongly reminded me how DWJ's villains are villains not because they are cartoonishly Evil but because they knowingly and callously use people and fail to value people simply as people. It also hit me how different and more vivid DWJ's children's and YA books (also of course for adults!) are from most YA today. Despite the fact that today's YA books try to deal face-on with lots of issues, DWJ seems to be in some ways so much more unflinching. I realise that must sound strange and perhaps it isn't even true, but it's how I felt when reading this. She's so very honest about people, with all our good and bad stuff mixed together.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    I read this series as a 5th grader. In fact, my copy got confiscated by the terrifying 4'9" Mrs. Wasserman because I was reading it under the desk and trying to look innocent. I was delighted to reread this and realize that these books really ARE captivating, and maybe I did have some literary taste as a kid. I loved the way the adolescent hero has a terrible shock discovering that he is not adorable, and that he may in fact be an arrogant jerk. What a perfect insight into being 13! And Jones is I read this series as a 5th grader. In fact, my copy got confiscated by the terrifying 4'9" Mrs. Wasserman because I was reading it under the desk and trying to look innocent. I was delighted to reread this and realize that these books really ARE captivating, and maybe I did have some literary taste as a kid. I loved the way the adolescent hero has a terrible shock discovering that he is not adorable, and that he may in fact be an arrogant jerk. What a perfect insight into being 13! And Jones is a master of the dangerous mistrusting gulf between children and the adults around them. How can adults and children understand or trust each other? Who is reliable and who is dangerous? Very -- dare I say it? psychologically realistic-- in a magical alternate universe.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    Fun and easy to read. Pretty sure I didn't read this, the first time, so, hm. Maybe I only read the first book, when I was younger. In any case, it's best to read this after Charmed Life, otherwise it would give the game away with some of what happens in Charmed Life. Christopher Chant isn't the pleasantest kid to read about, if you're reading in an aware sort of way and you know some things about the world -- e.g. dragon blood -- but at the same time, you get sucked into what he's doing. And it' Fun and easy to read. Pretty sure I didn't read this, the first time, so, hm. Maybe I only read the first book, when I was younger. In any case, it's best to read this after Charmed Life, otherwise it would give the game away with some of what happens in Charmed Life. Christopher Chant isn't the pleasantest kid to read about, if you're reading in an aware sort of way and you know some things about the world -- e.g. dragon blood -- but at the same time, you get sucked into what he's doing. And it's lovely when he starts to develop -- because he does develop -- and becomes more self-aware. Millie/the Goddess is a fun character, too, and I kind of identify with her obsession with school novels... as a kid, I ate 'em up. I'd still like to get hold of the Chalet School books, someday... But my favourite character, somehow, is Tacroy, who still manages to be a decent kind of guy, despite everything. The only quibble is how neatly and quickly it all ties up at the end. It felt rather abrupt, and just... too neat.

  16. 4 out of 5

    J.Aleksandr Wootton

    This second installment of the Chrestomanci series is direct prequel to Charmed Life, in which Jones more fully develops her "many worlds" fantasy setting by telling how Christopher Chant grew up to occupy the position of Chrestomanci, despite losing so many of his nine lives along the way. It is a quite magical biography and a different sort of story than Charmed Life, although both are tinged with real darkness, and both deal with the consequences of emotional neglect, which leaves others, chi This second installment of the Chrestomanci series is direct prequel to Charmed Life, in which Jones more fully develops her "many worlds" fantasy setting by telling how Christopher Chant grew up to occupy the position of Chrestomanci, despite losing so many of his nine lives along the way. It is a quite magical biography and a different sort of story than Charmed Life, although both are tinged with real darkness, and both deal with the consequences of emotional neglect, which leaves others, children especially, vulnerable to manipulative persons. The thematic content is, again, a bit deeper and more disturbing than you might expect for middle-grade fiction, yet handled with a wonderfully light touch. As with every installment of this series, it's Jones' keen attention to the details and concerns of real life that makes her fantasy so good. Her characters are vividly human: being magical doesn't particularly ennoble their virtues, intensify their faults, or alleviate their stresses. Deftly-told otherworldly adventures make the stories fun, while ordinary concerns and choices makes the stories credible. Highly recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Klassen

    This is a fun one, though probably my least favourite of the Chrestomanci books. I enjoy The Goddess, Throgmorton, and Tacroy, but I don't feel all that connected to the actual plot. A bit too long, perhaps. Still, I enjoy revisiting when I reread the whole series! This is a fun one, though probably my least favourite of the Chrestomanci books. I enjoy The Goddess, Throgmorton, and Tacroy, but I don't feel all that connected to the actual plot. A bit too long, perhaps. Still, I enjoy revisiting when I reread the whole series!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mirnatius

    TW/CW: “savage” slur, g-slur, fatphobia. This is the one I really want to re-read. But I will do so sometime after I finish this series. Christopher has grown on me and I just want to see the way he has changed. My favorite aspect of him does not look like it will change. Which I love. I just admire his cynicism and this is very much a part of him that seems to remain with him through the years.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emma Rose Ribbons

    Wow. Diana Wynne Jones is quite incredible, she's unlike anyone I've ever read (apart from maybe Pratchett). Her books are SO unique and memorable . This was no exception, and I liked it more than Charmed Life because I loved all the main characters. The magic is super fun. Christopher can travel between worlds during his sleep and has got nine lives so his Uncle tasks him with recovering a series of objects from different, sometimes dangerous realms - until Christopher finds out he's destined to Wow. Diana Wynne Jones is quite incredible, she's unlike anyone I've ever read (apart from maybe Pratchett). Her books are SO unique and memorable . This was no exception, and I liked it more than Charmed Life because I loved all the main characters. The magic is super fun. Christopher can travel between worlds during his sleep and has got nine lives so his Uncle tasks him with recovering a series of objects from different, sometimes dangerous realms - until Christopher finds out he's destined to become the greatest sorcerer of all time. Super clever. The writing is GORGEOUS - she's the best author I know when it comes to sneaking in some small cosy details in the middle of action-packed scenes that make you feel instantly warm and at home. The dialog is sharp and witty, really funny. I enjoyed everything about this book. Absolutely going in my library to reread forever.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    I really love the Chrestomanci universe. (At least, I love the stories that surround the character and the castle, so notable exceptions include Volume II.) As a story, I don't think this is paced as well - or as fun - as Charmed Life, but it does dovetail with Charmed Life in fascinating, tongue-in-cheek ways, and those overlaps do a lot to elevate the story, placing it in context in the wider Chrestomanci universe. More specifically, this is the story of the way the vague, suave, dressing-begow I really love the Chrestomanci universe. (At least, I love the stories that surround the character and the castle, so notable exceptions include Volume II.) As a story, I don't think this is paced as well - or as fun - as Charmed Life, but it does dovetail with Charmed Life in fascinating, tongue-in-cheek ways, and those overlaps do a lot to elevate the story, placing it in context in the wider Chrestomanci universe. More specifically, this is the story of the way the vague, suave, dressing-begowned father of Roger and Julia in Charmed Life came to be that person. It's interesting how much his story overlaps Cat's experience in Charmed Life: he, too, gets sent to live at Chrestomanci Castle against his will and feels very lonely there, plus - "My advice is that you then start with pentacle and fire," Dr. Simonson droned on, "using the simpler form of words to start the process, but..." Christopher sat silent, thinking that if he did get to be the next Chrestomanci he would forbid people to talk about their work at mealtimes. Ever.And of course, that didn't happen (though Cat does notice that Roger and Julia are able to contribute to the conversation, which he and Gwendolyn cannot do). There are more overlaps, like the discussion of Christopher cultivating that vague look, but they never become cutesy, probably because the tone of the book is darker. It's not just that in a household full of adults, no one is willing to extend themselves to understand why the young teenager might not be so friendly - Flavian's outburst is out of line, frankly - and no one seems to know how to teach. Christopher's sarcasm was welcome in the face of Gabriel de Witt's "your family is awful, so you understand, of course, why I am reluctant to teach you?" Even earlier on, in one of Christopher's conversations with Tacroy: "I don't know who my parents were." Christopher was impressed. "Is that why you're always so cheerful?"I don't remember that line making an impact on me when I was eleven, but now it's one of the most powerful lines of dialogue in the book. I mean: yikes. Anyway, jocular darkness and all, the novel proceeds at a steady pace and builds to a great climax, at which point it darts in a ridiculous, mostly-unprepared direction at full speed. My favorite Diana Wynne Jones novels tie all the threads together in a messy, exciting ending. This introduces an entire new world and new wrinkles in the final pages, and it's messy and exciting, but also very out of place, and that means that dealing with the Lobster Pot immediately after - in a situation that does tie into the main plot very well - feels out of place, too. Which it shouldn't. I do appreciate how differently Christopher is drawn from Cat - and those differences are highlighted, too, in Conrad's Fate and The Pinhoe Egg - and I like how the Chrestomancis do seem to learn as they go along. This is a really entertaining series, but it's the character growth almost hidden beneath the plot that I'm finding most compelling this time around.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Mindy Conde

    The order to read these books is a bit murky. The newest publishing of the books list #2 as The Magician’s of Caprona, but a list I found that showed Diana Wynn Jones’ recommended reading order pointed to The Lives of Christopher Chant as #2, which was what I went with. Its confusing because the publishing order is another option that gives yet a different order. In any case, so far the stories are related but not so contingent on the others that I’ve found you have to read them in a certain ord The order to read these books is a bit murky. The newest publishing of the books list #2 as The Magician’s of Caprona, but a list I found that showed Diana Wynn Jones’ recommended reading order pointed to The Lives of Christopher Chant as #2, which was what I went with. Its confusing because the publishing order is another option that gives yet a different order. In any case, so far the stories are related but not so contingent on the others that I’ve found you have to read them in a certain order. I’m going with the order recommended by the author because that seems like the most relevant opinion on the matter, so there you have it. In The Lives of Christopher Chant, we look back at the Chrestomanci that was in A Charmed Life and see him as a young boy who learns that he is meant to be the next Chrestomanci. He develops in the book from a pig-headed boy who doesn’t want anything to do with the role of Chrestomanci, or the very old man who currently holds the role, to embracing what the role could actually mean to him if he were to give it a chance. It’s a bit of a coming of age story and is full of escapades and intrigues. I quite enjoyed seeing Christopher as a young boy after seeing him as an adult in the first book. It was a nice development and I found him to be an interesting character as a child as well as an adult.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Somesuchlike

    For a while this was my all-time favorite book. I chose it to write a book review on when I was twelve, which was a lot of fun (though I seem to recall having some trouble picking out a favorite passage). By the time I read this, I'd read two others of the same series, and so I was familiar with the character of Chrestomanci. As such, it was nice to see him growing up, and to be able to pick out traits he retains in the earlier books. Similarly, it was interesting to see a younger version of Mill For a while this was my all-time favorite book. I chose it to write a book review on when I was twelve, which was a lot of fun (though I seem to recall having some trouble picking out a favorite passage). By the time I read this, I'd read two others of the same series, and so I was familiar with the character of Chrestomanci. As such, it was nice to see him growing up, and to be able to pick out traits he retains in the earlier books. Similarly, it was interesting to see a younger version of Millie, especially as her past is so surprising - she's described in Charmed Life as being nice, but rather dull, whereas in The Lives of Christopher Chant, she comes from another, totally different world, where she was revered as a goddess. I'm also fascinated by the idea of alternate univeres, so I really enjoyed reading about Christopher visiting so many, and about how the worlds are arranged (people seem to like to think of them as being arranged almost in rows, though, as Christopher is aware, it really doesn't work like that).

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lizzy

    DWJ really know how to write the most vile adults. I'm very glad that these books are some of the very rare 5-star books that I only reread once every 3-5+ years or so? I have read almost all of my other favorite books to bits until I very nearly have them memorized (P&P and Persuasion, Queen's Thief books, Troubled Waters, Harry Potter, too many more to name) but somehow I've resisted the urge with Howl's Moving Castle and the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. The result is that I genuinely cannot re DWJ really know how to write the most vile adults. I'm very glad that these books are some of the very rare 5-star books that I only reread once every 3-5+ years or so? I have read almost all of my other favorite books to bits until I very nearly have them memorized (P&P and Persuasion, Queen's Thief books, Troubled Waters, Harry Potter, too many more to name) but somehow I've resisted the urge with Howl's Moving Castle and the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. The result is that I genuinely cannot remember a good deal of the endings and details and it's almost like reading them for the first time again. And these books are so magical and inventive in a way that I feel like I just don't see anywhere else. DWJ was really one of a kind.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    DWJ, in these early Chrestomanci books, captures something of the blind obedience of children, doing what they're told (at least for people they like or trust) and understanding very little of what's going on. [Though Christopher is almost wilfully blind toward the end there.] The story can be read from a post-colonial viewpoint, with the unhesitating exploitation of various cultures by the Wraith's gang, but it also raises the question of what gives a British government-appointed enchanter from DWJ, in these early Chrestomanci books, captures something of the blind obedience of children, doing what they're told (at least for people they like or trust) and understanding very little of what's going on. [Though Christopher is almost wilfully blind toward the end there.] The story can be read from a post-colonial viewpoint, with the unhesitating exploitation of various cultures by the Wraith's gang, but it also raises the question of what gives a British government-appointed enchanter from one particular world the right to police anywhere but his own Britain?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

    If you liked Harry Potter, don't read this book. If you think Harry Potter is derivative puerile nonsense entirely bereft of wit, charm, or originality then I salute you. You should enjoy this delightful children's fantasy. If you liked Harry Potter, don't read this book. If you think Harry Potter is derivative puerile nonsense entirely bereft of wit, charm, or originality then I salute you. You should enjoy this delightful children's fantasy.

  26. 5 out of 5

    connie

    Finished this just as I crossed the border to Germany hehehe

  27. 4 out of 5

    anna marie

    hmmm i would maybe give this 2.5 - 3 stars? i think they are okay, i like some of the concepts & magic & characters, but i think the way that people from different worlds/places/races are represented through a really orientalist lens + some of the vocabulary used to describe certain groups of people was quite gross.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    "People only want either of us for what use we are to them!" she sobbed. "You for your nine lives and me for my Goddess atributes. And both of us are caught and struck and trapped in a life with a future all planned out by someone else-like a long, long tunnel with no way out!" I really love Diana Wynne Jones' books! "People only want either of us for what use we are to them!" she sobbed. "You for your nine lives and me for my Goddess atributes. And both of us are caught and struck and trapped in a life with a future all planned out by someone else-like a long, long tunnel with no way out!" I really love Diana Wynne Jones' books!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Peregrine

    I'm always impressed by how much Character dwj can fit into a relatively short children's novel. It's aspirational I'm always impressed by how much Character dwj can fit into a relatively short children's novel. It's aspirational

  30. 4 out of 5

    An Odd1

    Funny, serious, memorable. Christopher grows up in magic Victorian London, escapes from marital conflict in dream spirit travel to Anywheres, strange lands, even mermaids. Of course, he would obey his uncle Ralph, the first adult to be kind and attentive. Asked to experiment with his skill under the guidance of Tacroy, bring back an animal, he goes after a Temple cat of the Asheth. The girl Goddess swops cantankerous ginger tom Throgmorten for books -- she's bored. The ruthless cat reminds him o Funny, serious, memorable. Christopher grows up in magic Victorian London, escapes from marital conflict in dream spirit travel to Anywheres, strange lands, even mermaids. Of course, he would obey his uncle Ralph, the first adult to be kind and attentive. Asked to experiment with his skill under the guidance of Tacroy, bring back an animal, he goes after a Temple cat of the Asheth. The girl Goddess swops cantankerous ginger tom Throgmorten for books -- she's bored. The ruthless cat reminds him of Ralph, but he blames "gingerness" p57. Actually this (Brothers) Grimm tale has gruesome massacres of endangered magical species - cats, mermaids, dragons. The boy's naive activities endanger the entire universe. His world Twelve A faces the evil Wraith smuggler, the soul-eating Dright of Eleven, and vengeful immortal Goddess Asheth of Series Ten. Christopher dies, once stabbed through the chest, once his head crushed "like a run-over pumpkin" p112, three times burned, too quickly, too easily. Our perceptions are dimmed, clouded, misdirected. We suspect no criminality in children. The boy's motives are honest, honorable, natural. Millie, his new friend, has normal boredom, curiosity, and a desire to survive. As Christopher grows up, he learns more truths, some harsh. Tacroy guides him to Twelve Related Worlds ("usually nine to a series" p153), where he loads packages, some fishy, but I did not guess their contents(view spoiler)[ mermaids (hide spoiler)] . At boarding school, Christopher discovers "he was tall, though he had not known he was before" p80, by comparison with smaller pals. He discovers cricket, with the usual boy passion for sports, and gets lessons from Tacroy, but fails magic lessons miserably, for a predictable reason. (view spoiler)[ Millie sees that her jangling bracelets void his magic. His magic returns when the school Matron nurse forbids his braces overnight. But he remains ignorant until tutor Dr Pawson pinpoints the presence of silver p123. Despite overwhelming evidence, he never suspects he has more than one life. Why should he? We would not, even when "the hospital was in total confusion, while everyone tried to catch a five foot corpse, clothed mostly in a flying sheet, which raced up and down the corridors shrieking that it was missing cricket practice" p112. I have experienced and observed, that the fatally ill, on the verge of death unknowing, dwell on the seemingly still important small commitments of daily life. When his original nine lives, now drastically diminished, are officially diagnosed, Christopher is banished to the national spiritual headquarters, destined to inherit the mantle of ruling Gabriel de Witt. "He knew he was going to hate Chrestomanci Castle" p147. "The Government took it over two hundred years ago when the last evil enchanter was beheaded." p146. Violence is embedded, taken for granted in this Grimm tale. Christopher is surprised to learn that his antagonistic attitude led to resentment and frustration from the well-meaning adult occupants. The adage "If you set your face in that expression it will stay that way" held truth. Christopher sees the "hidden prettiness" of his governess comes out beside Ralph, only an adult would suspect attraction, maybe an affair. Yet later, he recognizes conflict as love, between Tacroy and Rosalie and similar to Papa Cosimo and Mama Miranda. They "were longing to stop being rude to one another, but both too proud to make the first move" p268. He ensures that Papa's address in Japan is forwarded to Mama in Kensington p269. A remarkably adult maneuver. One villain is not enough. The Dright controls world Eleven, eats souls, and holds hostage the spirits of Tacroy and Gabriel. Although he and Millie are clothed haphazardly and amusingly, in animal skins bedecked with every possible jewel, the stakes are life and death, (hide spoiler)] Maybe partly because this was written before overwhelmingly popular books encouraged too many lookalike copies, the plot and characters are original, refreshing. Small hints fool the reader into thinking we know more than Christopher, but he puts together more, solves the puzzles, saves his universe of parallel worlds. In modern fantasy fiction, we call them alternate realities. I regret the author's death. She knew how to write a Good Read.

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