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review 2018-07-27 10:55
Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Dark Lord of Derkholm - Diana Wynne Jones

TITLE:  Dark Lord of Derkholm

 

AUTHOR:  Diana Wynne Jones

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BOOK DESCRIPTION:

"Everyone - wizards, soldiers, farmers, elves, dragons, kings and queens alike - is fed up with Mr Chesney's Pilgrim Parties: groups of tourists from the world next door who descend en masse every year to take the Grand Tour. What they expect are all the trappings of a grand fantasy adventure, including the Evil Enchantress, Wizard Guides, the Dark Lord, Winged Minions, and all. And every year different people are chosen to play these parts. But now they've had enough: Mr Chesney may be backed by a very powerful demon, but the Oracles have spoken. Now it's up to the Wizard Derk and his son Blade, this year's Dark Lord and Wizard Guide, not to mention Blade's griffin brothers and sisters, to save the world from Mr Chesney's depredations."

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A fun, original, fast-paced romp through a fantasy land that is being indiscriminately (and unpleasantly) used as a tourist adventure destination.  The concept is brilliant, while the characters are entertaining and fully realized.  

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review 2018-07-10 01:15
The Crown of Dalemark, Dalemark Quartet #4 by Diana Wynne Jones
The Crown of Dalemark - Diana Wynne Jones

Intro: It has been seven years since the death of Diana Wynne Jones, and I've been a fan of hers since childhood, but I had never read this series before.

The Dalemark Quartet, arguably the most effective series Jones ever wrote. Jones' genius didn't lend itself to sequels. When she created a world and characters she said all that she wanted to say in that first volume. That's why many sequels often had mostly new sets of characters, if not new worlds, and often, fell flat. Dalemark is a magical kingdom divided among feuding lords, with a sharp division between those in the North and those in the South. Ideology, prejudice, and history must be overcome and its fate rests in the hands of children, sometimes scattered over centuries.

 

This is where it all comes together. Our heroes, with some disappointing behavior from a certain young lady from 'Drowned Ammet' who I expected more of frankly, come together. Mitt and Moril strike sparks as protagonists must when colliding, but there is a fresh perspective in the form of Maewen. A girl of modern Dalemark, she has been transported into, for her, the distant past, and must help unite the disparate factions of Dalemark and trust her new friends, before an ancient evil arises and changes history.

 

'Crown' effectively ties together all of the loose ends of the series, blending Mitt and Moril's stories, the distant past and even the modern coda at the end of 'Spellcoats' into a whole greater then its parts. That very effectiveness takes away some of the thrill of the book, as a reader can see where much of the plot is headed, but is still a worthy ending to the series with a strong message of forgiveness entwined in its plots.

 

Previous: The Spellcoats

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review 2018-07-10 01:01
The Spellcoats, Dalemark Quartet #3 by Diana Wynne Jones
The Spellcoats - Diana Wynne Jones

Intro: It has been seven years since the death of Diana Wynne Jones, and I've been a fan of hers since childhood, but I had never read this series before.

The Dalemark Quartet, arguably the most effective series Jones ever wrote. Jones' genius didn't lend itself to sequels. When she created a world and characters she said all that she wanted to say in that first volume. That's why many sequels often had mostly new sets of characters, if not new worlds, and often, fell flat. Dalemark is a magical kingdom divided among feuding lords, with a sharp division between those in the North and those in the South. Ideology, prejudice, and history must be overcome and its fate rests in the hands of children, sometimes scattered over centuries.

 

The Spellcoats takes us deep into the history of Dalemark, before there was a kingdom to be divided. It is a story of survival and overcoming prejudice and becoming one's own savior. Treated with Jones' characteristic wit, this was my favorite of the quartet by a long shot. There were additional puzzles to solve and it was wonderful coming onto every new bit of lore Jones threw my way.

 

Next: The Crown of Dalemark

 

Previous: Drowned Ammet

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review 2018-07-10 00:53
Drowned Ammet, Dalemark Quarter #2 by Diana Wynne Jones
Drowned Ammet - Diana Wynne Jones

Intro: It has been seven years since the death of Diana Wynne Jones, and I've been a fan of hers since childhood, but I had never read this series before.

The Dalemark Quartet, arguably the most effective series Jones ever wrote. Jones' genius didn't lend itself to sequels. When she created a world and characters she said all that she wanted to say in that first volume. That's why many sequels often had mostly new sets of characters, if not new worlds, and often, fell flat. Dalemark is a magical kingdom divided among feuding lords, with a sharp division between those in the North and those in the South. Ideology, prejudice, and history must be overcome and its fate rests in the hands of children, sometimes scattered over centuries.

'Drowned Ammet' takes us to events slightly before 'Cart and Cwidder', to a boy in a port city of the dreadful South. Mitt sees his parents crushed beneath the ruthlessness of the Southern lord's greed, and after his father dies when a member of the resistance betrays him, Mitt vows revenge. This leads him to boarding a ship with two noble children on the run and what may be two gods guiding their journey.

 

A wonderful reversal. Jones tells us in one book what to expect out of characters from a certain region, and then she turns it on its head and creates an adventure that works very well on its own.

Next: The Spellcoats

Previous: Cart and Cwidder

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review 2018-07-10 00:52
Cart and Cwidder, Dalemark Quartet #1 by Diana Wynne Jones
Cart and Cwidder - Diana Wynne Jones

It has been seven years since the death of Diana Wynne Jones, and I've been a fan of hers since childhood, but I had never read this series before.

The Dalemark Quartet, arguably the most effective series Jones ever wrote. Jones' genius didn't lend itself to sequels. When she created a world and characters she said all that she wanted to say in that first volume. That's why many sequels often had mostly new sets of characters, if not new worlds, and often, fell flat. Dalemark is a magical kingdom divided among feuding lords, with a sharp division between those in the North and those in the South. Ideology, prejudice, and history must be overcome and its fate rests in the hands of children, sometimes scattered over centuries.

'Cart and Cwidder' is the first novel of the series, and follows Moril and his siblings as they travel as musicians in their parent's cart. A journey across the treacherous South is dangerous enough without a price on their heads and being armed only with an ancestral cwidder, a musical instrument rumored to have rare powers.

This is a classic Jones novel, and I enjoyed the interplay between the young characters. It sketches out many elements of the plot that will be revealed as the story continues. In particular, the rules of magic were noteworthy, and the hints of the Undying, to be revealed further in later novels. This is a complete adventure, and can be read by itself.

Next: Drowned Ammet

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