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The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant Mass Market Paperback – April 10, 2007
"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
More About the Author
Born just outside London in 1934, Diana Wynne Jones had a childhood that was "very vivid and often very distressing"--one that became the fertile ground where her tremendous imagination took root. When the raids of World War II reached London in 1939, the five-year-old girl and her two younger sisters were torn from their suburban life and sent to Wales to live with their grandparents. This was to be the first of many migrations, one of which brought her family to Lane Head, a large manor in the author-populated Lake District and former residence of John Ruskin's secretary, W.G. Collingwood. This time marked an important moment in Diana Wynne Jones's life, where her writing ambitions were magnified by, in her own words, "early marginal contacts with the Great." She confesses to having "offending Arthur Ransome by making a noise on the shore beside his houseboat," erasing a stack of drawings by the late Ruskin himself in order to reuse the paper, and causing Beatrix Potter (who also lived nearby) to complain about her and her sister's behavior. "It struck me," Jones said, "that the Great were remarkably touchy and unpleasant, and I thought I would like to be the same, without the unpleasantness." Prompted by her penny-pinching father's refusal to buy the children any books, Diana Wynne Jones wrote her first novel at age twelve and entertained her sisters with readings of her stories. Those early stories--and much of her future work--were inspired by a limited but crucial foundation of classics: Malory's Morte D'Arthur, The Arabian Nights, and Epics and Romances of the Middle Ages. Fantasy was Jones's passion from the start, despite receiving little support from her often neglectful parents. This passion was fueled further during her tenure at St. Anne's College in Oxford, where lectures by J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis increased her fascination with myth and legend. She married Medievalist John Burrow in 1956; the couple have three sons and six grandchildren.
After a decade of rejections, Diana Wynne Jones's first novel, Changeover, was published in 1970. In 1973, she joined forces with her lifelong literary agent, Laura Cecil, and in the four decades to follow, Diana Wynne Jones wrote prodigiously, sometimes completing three titles in a single year. Along the way she gained a fiercely loyal following; many of her admirers became successful authors themselves, including Newbery Award winners Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, and Newbery Honor Book author Megan Whalen Turner. A conference dedicated solely to her work was held at the University of West England, Bristol, in 2009. Diana Wynne Jones continued to write during her battle with lung cancer, which ultimately took her life in March 2011. Her last book, Earwig and the Witch, will be published by Greenwillow Books in 2012.
Top Customer Reviews
"Charmed Life" is the story of Cat and Gwendolen, siblings who are orphaned in a tragic steamboat accident. While Cat is shy, Gwendolen is the opposite: She is an unnaturally powerful witch, and intends to rise high enough to rule the world. She thinks that she's got it made when Chrestomanci brings her and her brother to his castle. But Gwendolen has met her match in Chrestomanci -- and a magical war of wills has begun!
"The Lives of Christopher Chant" is the backstory of Chrestomanci. Once he was an ordinary boy, whose ambition was to become a cricket player. But when he is tested by a powerful magician, Christopher Chant is found to be Chrestomanci: An amazingly powerful magician with not one, but NINE lives. The problem is, Christopher doesn't want to be Chrestomanci -- and he's already enmeshed in a wizards' smuggling ring that may spell doom for his new friends...
Diana Wynne-Jones is at her best here: the books are funny, dramatic, well-characterized, well-written and well-plotted. The parallel worlds are well-thought out, such as Chrestomanci's world, where magic exists rather than science as we know it. As in many of her books, she shows unusual insights into the thought processes of both young and adolescent children. While readers may sometimes want to smack the lead characters, it's hard not to like the heroes and despise the villains.
After reading this two-pack, readers should immediately read the next two books in the series, as well as the new short-story collection. Chrestomanci is too good to be missed.
It's got parallel worlds, enchantment, and humor. We meet and watch Christopher Chant's life unfold among different worlds. He has a big job on his shoulders -- to keep people from abusing their magic abilities.
My husband excitedly told me about the story, something he doesn't do unless he enjoys it. He's a Star Trek, Lord of the Ring, and Star Wars fan. So, fathers or adults who enjoy those will probably get a kick out of these.
I highly, highly reccommend these books (and Volume II as well) to *anyone* who enjoys Harry Potter, fantasy, or just a good story.
Read them...you will NOT be disappointed!
"Charmed Life" is about a boy called Cat, or more formally Eric, who becomes an orphan when his parents drown in a boat accident. His older sister, Gwendolen, is a witch, and when the two move in with their neighbor, Gwendolen begins to take magic lessons. Cat has no magic at all, and is often pushed out of the spotlight by Gwendolen. Then they go to live at Chrestomanci Castle, home to the great enchanter Chrestomanci. After waging a private war on Chrestomanci, Gwendolen jumps into another world and leaves a double with Cat. Cat and Gwendolen's double have to figure out how to save Chrestomanci and the magical community when Gwendolen and her friends on Coven Street try to take over.
"The Lives of Christopher Chant" is about the present Chrestomanci in Cat's time 25 years earlier. This gives you some background on Chrestomanci and is even better than the first book. Christopher Chant is a spirit traveler who can bring things back from his travels and is quite solid on his travels, and this has never happened before. Christopher's Uncle Ralph sees a neat way to exploit him and has him carry back tremendously expensive and rare items such as dragon's blood back from other worlds. It all ends up great.
I would recommend both of these books very highly.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a very big book. It will take my son a while to finish. But he is reading it and having fun.Published 4 months ago by M. Nunez
I was looking for more DWJ to read since I've liked other things by her and I know she is a deeply respected author. Read morePublished 7 months ago by OperationDandelion
Interesting use of the two parts, the second a kind of prequel. Have read the first two now and looking forward to the third. Read morePublished 10 months ago by WBKitty
Ive never been a great reader, but this book did the trick for me. I loved it!Published 11 months ago by Edith
This review has been crossposted from my blog at The Cosy Dragon.com. Please head there for more in-depth reviews by me, which appear on a timely schedule. Read morePublished 11 months ago by The Cosy Dragon (Rose Herbert)
Incredible series and wonderful writing, bought all three (three volumes with two "books" in each) for my stepdaughter who loved Harry Potter and Percy Jackson but is... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Lawgirl