Books #18-23 & #25 Chronicles of Chrestomanci

Near the start of the year (as indicated by the lower numbers)  I took it into my head to reread the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. I say re-read, but I actually realised as I worked my way through them that I actually never read the last two books of the series.

Image taken from Stories from the Web Blog

Image taken from Stories from the Web Blog

In any case – the books themselves –
Charmed Life
The Magicians of Caprona
Witch Week
The Lives of Christopher Chant
Mixed Magics
Conrad’s Fate
The Pinhoe Egg

^ Is the order I read them in, and is Wynne Jones’ recommended reading order(I think). In any case, since there are seven of them, I don’t think there’s any point in laying out the story of each book separately. Also worth noting is that Mixed Magics is actually a collection of short stories, not all of which are set in the Chrestomanci Multiverse.

The multiverse, in this particular canon, is made up of ‘series’ – collections of worlds which split off at times of geographical change – series five is a watery world, for example. Within the series [there are nine] then, historical events might cause two worlds to split (an example used being Guy Fawkes blowing up the Houses of Parliament) and continue their respective ways on the result of the coin toss.

Within these worlds, a very rare type of person is a nine-lifed enchanter – this is where events conspired to ensure that a particular person’s counterparts in each of the other eight series were not born. This particularly powerful type of enchanter is known as the Chrestomanci, and is tasked with keeping track of all magic use across the nine series.

In any case, now that I’ve established that, over the course of the seven books, we visit many series, many worlds, and see no fewer than three different Chrestomancis (or future Chrestomancis). The whole series is filled with magic, fun, confusion, unicorns, gryphons, cantankerous brooms, embroidered dressing gowns, refusal to accept one’s destiny, love stories, bullying, fancy suits, and generally all kinds of sartorial splendour.

As a child, I thoroughly enjoyed these books, and have enjoyed them no less as an adult. Coming back to find that I had never actually read Conrad’s Fate or the Pinhoe Egg before was a delight, to be able to expand my experience of the Chrestomanci worlds and spend more time seeing Chrestomanci growing from a child into the flamboyant and incredibly entertaining character we see in the first book, Charmed Life. Also interesting is the fact that all the books are written in different styles – Witch Week, for example, is a school story. Conrad’s Fate is in a stately home. The Magicians of Caprona is set in an Italian town ruled by dynastic families (much like fair Verona – the rhyming names possibly not just a coincidence!) and yet all retain the same flavour of magic and adventure. Also there’s nearly always a sassy and incredibly clever cat (Throgmorten, I adore you). I really enjoyed these books, then and now, and would highly recommend them.

(Um, in case you hadn’t noticed, I really like Diana Wynne Jones)

Five stars!


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