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The Dalemark Quartet, Volume 2: The Spellcoats and The Crown of Dalemark Paperback – April 26, 2005

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Product Details

  • Series: Dalemark Quartet
  • Paperback: 784 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (April 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006076371X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060763718
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5.3 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,059,276 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
Diana Wynne-Jones is best known for her wizards and humorous magic, but in the Dalemark Quartet she takes a trip into more serious fantasy, complete with warring earldoms and strange gods. "The Dalemark Quartet Volume 1" includes the first two books of this series, "The Spellcoats" and "The Crown of Dalemark."

"The Spellcoats" is the tale of Tanaqui, centuries before the first two volumes of the quartet. She lives with her family in prehistoric Dalemark, where a battle is being fought between the "Heathens" and their own folk. When her brother returns, insane, she and her family must flee their village. But Tanaqui learns of the existance of Kankredin, a malevolent wizard who is waiting for them.

In the final volume, "Crown of Dalemark," a forthright young boy named Mitt is called on to be an assassin. A countess wants him to destroy a young lady, Noreth, who may become the uniting monarch of Dalemark. But Mitt begins to like Noreth, and so joins her supporters. What he doesn't know is that she is actually Maewen, a confused young girl from 200 years in the future...

Jones is best known for a sort of wry, homey fantasy with a British flavor -- not to mention that they often have dapper wizards. That sort of stuff is mostly missing in "The Dalemark Quartet Volume 2." Instead, we get a darker, much more epic story -- there are godlike figures, earldoms, peasants, nobles, and plenty more.

Jones' writing is quite detailed in this book, since she not only describes the clothing, woods and people, but also the alternative world of Dalemark. Both stories are connected, but independent, and Jones carefully crafts the politics and conflicts that run under all the magic and the godlike Undying.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kaleidocherry VINE VOICE on July 29, 2005
Format: Paperback
This set of four stories (two in each book) are out of chronological order, just like the four original Chrestomanci stories. This is the only reason I gave it 4 instead of 5 stars. When these things are out of order they don't make sense and I have to spend time wrestling with the timelines before I can go on and enjoy the stories. Buy both books in the Dalemark Quartet at the same time and read the stories in this order:

The Spellcoats
then Drowned Ammet
then Cart and Cwidder
then The Crown of Dalemark.

This will make a lot more sense to you.

The stories were all very engaging and I kept reading and reading. "The Spellcoats" dragged a bit - in fact it dragged a lot, because DWJ is throwing lots of fantasy-mythology stuff at the reader very quickly - but after I finished all four stories (in the publisher's order) I went back and reread "The Spellcoats" and it made more sense. The other three stories are pretty easy to figure out from the get-go. Great stuff.

Edited after a rereading...I've read a lot of Ms. Jones' work, and I feel the Dalemark Quartet is probably the best of the ones I've read. Instead of people "casting spells" as they do in her other stories (an act that is often just tossed out there as easily as "he scratched his ear"), the people in this world are plain old people, with the Undying (like gods) appearing to lend magical hands when needed. The character development is better in this quartet and the stories feel richer than, say, the Chrestomanci stories, where people just conjure up what they need, or wave a hand to mend broken items, and whatnot. Dalemark seems like a believable world structure.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dana Larsen on September 5, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wonderful series! A novel I can read over and over again and never be tired of it. A must read.
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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.

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