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The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant Mass Market Paperback – April 10, 2007

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The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant + The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 2: The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week + The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Vol. 3 (Conrad's Fate / The Pinhoe Egg)
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Product Details

  • Series: Chronicles of Chrestomanci (Book 1)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (April 10, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006447268X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064472685
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 4.2 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #24,882 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Omnibus paperback editions combine two Chrestomanci novels in each volume: Charmed Life and The Lives of Christopher Chant make up The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Volume I; Volume II has The Magicians of Caprona and Witch Week.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.


"Mad about Harry? Try Diana." -- -- U.S. News & World Report

More About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards--and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter--her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy. From the very beginning, Diana Wynne Jones's books garnered literary accolades: her novel Dogsbody was a runner-up for the 1975 Carnegie Medal, and Charmed Life won the esteemed Guardian children's fiction prize in 1977. Since then, in addition to being translated into more than twenty languages, her books have earned a wide array of honors--including two Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honors--and appeared on countless best-of-the-year lists. Her work also found commercial success: in 1992 the BBC adapted her novel Archer's Goon into a six-part miniseries, and her best-selling Howl's Moving Castle was made into an animated film by Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki in 2004. The film was nominated for an Academy Award in 2006, and became one of the most financially successful Japanese films in history. The author herself has also been honored with many prestigious awards for the body of her work. She was given the British Fantasy Society's Karl Edward Wagner Award in 1999 for having made a significant impact on fantasy, received a D.Lit from Bristol University in 2006, and won the Lifetime Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention in 2007.

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.

Customer Reviews

Diana Wynne Jones works her usual magic in this wonderful book!
I highly recommend this book for anyone who enjoys well written fantasy.
I have only read the first half of this book, but am totally hooked.
Maly Adamski

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 62 people found the following review helpful By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Ever since the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," people have imagined wizards as tall, elderly men with long gray beards, loose robes and pointed hats. Diana Wynne-Jones shatters the cliched image with Chrestomanci, a dapper Englishman who happens to be the nine-lived magician in charge of all the magic -- in all the parallel worlds.
"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.
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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Meryl K. Evans on September 27, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
My husband read both of these books to our 8-year-old daughter (3rd grader) and they were both entralled by the stories. Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, and A Wrinkle in Time fans will most likely enjoy these chronicles.
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.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Moon Girl on July 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I discovered these wonderful books quite typically...I was a Harry Potter fan, and I was looking for something similar to read while waiting for the fifth book...and I had read 'Dogsbody' by Diana Wynne Jones before. So, I stumbled upon these magnificent books. I totally adore them! If I were hardpressed to pick between the two, I would choose 'Charmed Life', but both stories are great. Chrestomanci is such a wonderful character, and the world that D.W. Jones creates is much more original than that J.K. Rowling creates. Of course, I shall always be a Harry Potter freak, but these books are much better. There is so much intrigue, action, humor, and wonderful characters, that I have read them over and over again.
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!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Walking Stone on March 2, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
It's a shame that this book (or books rather) isn't more popular. Until I stumbled upon volumes I and II in a bookstore, I had never heard of them before. Diana Wynne Jones is fairly well known, but her work seems to have taken the backseat to other wildly popular childrens books. This is unjust! Charmed Life and the Lives of Christopher Chant are both well written and refreshingly original. If the books have one flaw, it is that they start out fairly slowly. Since this is all plot building and setting the scene, it doesn't become that terrible of a distraction. If you do decide to read this book(I hope you do!) then here's some advice: Even though Charmed Life is before The lives of Christopher Chant in the book, chronologically Charmed life happens after Christopher Chant. If you like to read things in order, keep that in mind, otherwise you know what has happened to the characters in T.L.O.C.C. before you read it.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 14, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Chronicles of Chrestomanci

By: Dianne Wynne Jones

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci is a Harry Potter for people who are bored with Harry Potter. It tells the life and times of the Chant family. The Chant family is a well-to-do family in London with an interesting secret. They are a family of sorcerers and sorceresses. In the first part, A Charmed Life, we hear about young Eric Chant, and his sister Gwendolen.

First you must understand what Chrestomanci IS. It's pronounced KREST-OH-MAN-SEE. Second, Chrestomanci is the MOST powerful enchanter in that world. That world.

Anyway, Eric, (a. k. a Cat), and his sister Gwendolen, a powerful young witch, are adopted by the Chrestomanci. They don't know he's a relation of theirs. Cat's special "talents" appear when he undoes one of Gwendolen's spells.

You see, Gwendolen asked for lessons in witchcraft, and was refused. This caused her to rebel. She wreaks havoc upon the household. Molehills, darkness, and trees are ingredients for disaster.

What happens when Cat discovers his true potential? Who knows?...

In the second book, The Many Lives of Christopher Chant, we go 25 years into the past. This book details the lives of Christopher Chant, a relative of the Chants in the first book. In fact, he's closer to the first than you think. A hint? Silver. Anyway, Christopher meets a relative whom he idolizes. He thinks he can do no wrong. Little does he know how wrong they are. He is sent to Chrestomanci Castle, which has a Gabriel De Witt as Chrestomanci.

He then discovers how messed up people can be. He meets his one friend, a Goddess of Asheth, and together they must stop the one person that Christopher looks up to. Can they? Or will they be swallowed up in this deadly game of magic?
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