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Cart and Cwidder (Dalemark Quartet) Paperback – February 6, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this fantasy adventure set in mystical Dalemark, the children of a murdered gypsy begin an investigation into their father's death that has far-reaching consequences. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Diana Wynne Jones has won the Guardian Award for fiction and has written over twenty novels in less than twenty years.
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Top Customer Reviews
This is a tale of unexpected magic, immersed in plenty of action. The old mandolin-like cwidder that Moril's father played, turns out to be more than just a musical instrument in Moril's hands. And just in the nick of time...
As always, Jones gives us a cast of characters that become instantly familiar and believable. The tale is a warm and believable human drama, mixed judiciously with magic, and a young person's budding maturity. Beginning as an engaging adventure, the book turns into a compelling page-turner, with a wonderfully complex and unpredictable ending. Great stuff for an imaginative young reader.
Each of the first three volumes on its own comprises a satisfying story, if a bit open-ended. Cart and Cwidder is the most successful as a stand-alone story. The lute-like cwidder that Moril's father plays for a living as the family's gipsy cart wends through Dalemark's towns gradually discloses its magical powers, but it's the play of personalities that will keep you turning the pages.
There's the daydreaming Moril, his father Clennen, the jovial showman, his older brother Dagner, brimming with talent but painfully shy, his perceptive and sharp-tongued sister Brid, their mysteriously quiet high-born mother Lenina, and an elusive paying passenger whose humility seems like mockery. All these vivid first impressions are real, but they all turn out to be just surface manifestations of the deeper waters running through every member of the troupe.
You'll want to hear more about Moril's adventures when you finish Cart and Cwidder. Be advised that you'll have to lay your eagerness aside. All the members of the quartet will be brought together again in the long fourth volume, where Moril's voice will carry only a little of the melody; and there are three solos to be played in full before the final harmonizing.
This book concerns an 11-year old boy named Moril, a musician traveling with his family. They earn their money by stopping at towns and villages and playing songs. They also pass news among the people of Dalemark, and take passengers : they and other musicians are the only people who regularly travel between the northern and southern parts of the land, which are at the point of war. The south in particular is being severely repressed by the Earls (there has been no King for some time). Moril's family consists of their jolly father Clennen, their beautiful, aristocratic mother Lenina, the talented 15-year old songwriter son Dagner, and a 12-year old girl, Brid, in addition to Moril. The title refers to the cart they live and travel in, and to the main musical instruments they use, "cwidders", which seem guitar-like, and one of which may have magical powers.
On the journey in question, they pick up a rather mysterious traveller, Kialan, a boy of roughly Dagner's age. He has a tendency to disappear when they pass through villages. Then, near the castle of Lenina's former fiance, some men show up and murder Clennen. Abruptly, Lenina heads to her ex-fiance's house, as he has long promised to marry her if she is ever free. But the children recognize one of the murderers as a guest at the house, and they decide to head on their own to the North. On their way, they find more trouble, and eventually they learn that war is closer to hand than they thought. Can it be stopped?
It's very readable and involving -- I'm not sure Jones can be other than readable and involving. But it shares with much YA fantasy a certain thinness in the background. Her best work, such as _Fire and Hemlock_, seems much more completely imagined, more complex in characterization, theme, and morality. This book is fun, and not without real tension and interesting characters, but it seems minor compared to my favorites among her work. I will be buying the rest of the Dalemark books, however.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Why I finished it: While the ending was a bit predictable, the story itself was so entertaining!Read more