Pulling the Possibilities

Conrad’s Fate, by Diana Wynne Jones – Part of the Chrestomanci series, which takes place on a series of worlds similar to our own, this one occurs in an England that is part of the European mainland. A boy named Conrad finds himself working as a servant in Stallery, a mysterious and magical old mansion where, as is typical in Jones’s work, nothing is as it seems. He meets up with Christopher Chant, the future Chrestomanci, who at this point is still being trained by his predecessor Gabriel de Witt, and is searching for his friend Millie. It’s interesting to see Christopher starting to develop the personality he has as Chrestomanci in other books. He’s not as experienced yet, but still smugly confident and witty. Pretty much all of the characters involved have their own agendas and secrets, and as usual, it all comes together in a convoluted but still satisfying ending.

Of Jones’s other books, I have now read Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, The Magicians of Caprona, Witch Week, Howl’s Moving Castle, Castle in the Air, Archer’s Goon, Dark Lord of Derkholm, and Year of the Griffin. Since the third volume of the Chronicles of Chrestomanci also includes The Pinhoe Egg, that will be my next of hers that I’ll read, and I have House of Many Ways as well. I’ve had Eight Days of Luke suggested to me, but I haven’t come across that one in a library or bookstore yet. I think I did see The Merlin Conspiracy at the school library, but I haven’t actually seen any opinions on that one. Why does each new thing I read lead to so many others? I guess I shouldn’t complain, though, because it means it’s difficult for me to get bored. Well, except when I’m somewhere I can’t read, or have forgotten to bring a book.

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7 Responses to Pulling the Possibilities

  1. vilajunkie says:

    I read Conrad’s Fate not long after it was published (sometime between its release and when The Pinhoe Egg was being distributed to bookstores). I had no idea who Millie was, I assumed she was just a random character; it wasn’t until I read The Lives of Christopher Chant last year that I figured out who she was. I also re-read Witch Week last year, since I couldn’t remember much about it from when I first read it, and I ended up enjoying it a lot more the second time reading it.

    The Merlin Conspiracy is really, really good in my opinion, one of her best books yet, and I’ve probably read it three times by now, which is unusual for me. (The only other book that’s compelled me to read it more than twice was Robin McKinley’s Spindle’s End, a very detailed and interesting retelling of “Sleeping Beauty”.) I think you’d like it a lot, as Jones puts in a lot more mythology and folklore into this book–even the anthropomorphic personification of London is a character! If you’ve read Good Omens, there’s a witch character from centuries ago resembling Agnes Nutter in TMC that’s extremely practical and knows more about the magical uses of herbs than anyone else, except her mind is absorbed into one of the main characters, a la Rincewind carrying around a spell from the Octavo in his head. But keep in mind that TMC is very long, probably the longest of Jones’ books, and comparable in length and detail to the later Harry Potter books.

    • Nathan says:

      I couldn’t remember Millie when she was first mentioned in Conrad’s Fate, but later I realized that she’d been in two of the previous books. Her relationship with Christopher is pretty interesting, since it never seems like they’re particularly romantic with each other, yet they end getting married.

      I checked out The Merlin Conspiracy from the library today. That might mean I’ll end up reading it before the two other Jones books I own, since I have to return it and all, but I don’t know for sure.

  2. Merlin Conspiracy is pretty cool, and very complicated. I do like that one a lot. I do also like both Pinhoe Egg and House of Many Ways, too, so you’re good. You’ll have hit all my favorites after you finish those three, so I can’t think of much more to say. HAVE you read The …oh darn I can’t think of the title now… OH, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland yet? That would be another of my favorites– “nonfiction,” it’s basically a glossary of high-fantasy cliches and is quite a bit of fun. The woman really is a genius.

    Mainly I’m all tickled because you were reading a Chrestomanci book just after I put up that post ranking Chrestomanci number 6 among my Top Literary Crushes. And he is particularly crushworthy in Conrad’s Fate, even if he isn’t Chrestomanci yet.

  3. Pingback: In Memoriam: Diana Wynne Jones | VoVatia

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