Reviews: Jones, Diana Wynne

Nebulous Bright

Dogsbody — Diana Wynne Jones

1975’s Dogsbody is a stand-alone fantasy novel by Dianna Wynne Jones.

Accused of a murder he did not commit, Sirius must prove his innocence before a court of his fellow stars or face a terrible punishment.

Matters do not proceed entirely to Sirius’ benefit. By the time the novel begins he has already been found guilty, damned by the testimony of his beloved Companion and his own reluctance to explain what really happened. The only question remaining is which particular dismal punishment awaits Sirius.

(cruelty to animals warning)


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Caught Up in Circles

A Tale of Time City — Diana Wynne Jones

Diana Wynne Jones’ 1987 A Tale of Time City is a standalone young-adult SF novel.

1939: a year after World War Two has broken out, young Vivian Smith is sent off to the country, to live with her cousin Marty for the duration. She is not met by her cousin; she is met by Jonathan Lee Walker, who kidnaps Vivian and whisks her off to a destination outside of time itself.

In Jonathan’s defense, he means well.

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Eye in the Sky

A Sudden Wild Magic — Diana Wynne Jones

1992’s A Sudden Wild Magic is a standalone fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones.

For centuries, Britain has been secretly protected by the Ring, a cabal of powerful magicians. Or so the Ring believed. Much to his alarm, Mark Lister, master of magic and computer sciences, discovers that the Ring, Britain, and the entire world are pawns in a larger game.

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Don’t Play Your Games With Me

Charmed Life — Diana Wynne Jones
Chrestomanci, book 1

1977’s Charmed Life is the first novel in Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci series.

Gwendolen and Eric “Cat” Chant were orphaned by a boating disaster; their survival wasn’t due to luck, but to Gwendolen’s witchy gifts. Their new guardian, Mrs. Sharp, is a Certified Witch. She does her best to mentor Gwendolen, but her best is not enough for ambitious Gwendolen.

Gwedolen exploits a family connection to senior mage Christopher Chant — better known as Chrestomanci — and cajoles him into inviting her into the Chrestomanci household. Her totally insignificant (in her eyes) brother, Cat, comes as part of the package. No matter. The fame and power to which she is entitled will soon be hers! Or so she thinks.

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The Family Circle

The Dark Lord of Derkholm — Diana Wynne Jones
Derkholm, book 1

1998’s The Dark Lord of Derkholm (simply Dark Lord of Derkholm in American Guberniya editions) is the first of Diana Wynne Jones’ two Derkholm novels.

Mr. Chesney would argue that his Pilgrim Parties bring fame and wealth to the fantasy realm that is lucky enough to host the annual expeditions. The inhabitants of that realm might reply that Mr. Chesney’s Pilgrim Parties bring chaos, destruction, and massive loss of life. Since Mr. Chesney has a powerful demon on his side, how the locals feel does not really matter.

Determined to end the tours for once and for all, Querida, head of Wizards University, appoints notoriously incompetent wizard Derk as the new designated Dark Lord. He will be the focus for the tourists’ focused ire. He is tasked with creating the illusion of a vast dark kingdom, one in dire need of rescue by determined murder hobos tourists.

Derk is set on fire by an irate dragon, which was not part of the Plan.

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Let The World Sing Along

Cart and Cwidder — Diana Wynne Jones
Dalemark Quartet, book 1

1975’s Cart and Cwidder is the first book in Diana Wynne Jones’ Dalemark Quartet.

Osfameron Tanamoril Clennenson — Moril for short — has spent his life travelling from town to town with his father Clennan, mother Lenina, and siblings Dagner and Brid. The family troupe makes a living as travelling entertainers, messengers, and occasional escort for travellers in strife-torn Dalemark. In the course of their travels, they frequently cross from North Dalemark to South Dalemark and back.

A brutal encounter at a lakeside campsite ends their travels.

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Get The Party Started

Deep Secret — Diana Wynne Jones
Magid, book 1

1997’s Deep Secret is the first of two novels in Diana Wynne Jones’ Magid series.

Through no fault of his own, magid Rupert Venables is drawn into two pressing succession problems. The first problem is to find a magid trainee. The former head magid has died (well, he’s dead but not exactly gone; such is the nature of magids). Rupert is now the senior magid and needs an apprentice and future successor. The second problem is finding the true heir to the Koryfonic Empire, hidden away by the previous, rather paranoid, emperor.

It’s no use asking the emperor himself: Timos IX is very sincerely, very thoroughly dead. So are Timos’ friends and confidants, who might have known where the heir had been stashed. The bomb that reduced Timos IX to vapour was very large.

Rupert decides backburner the question of the missing heir and focus on the quest to find an apprentice and head-magid-to-be. That should at least be straightforward.

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Cut You Like The Tiny Slivers Of Glass

Howl’s Moving Castle — Diana Wynne Jones
Howl, book 1

1986’s Howl’s Moving Castle is the first book in Diana Wynne Jones’ Howl series.

Life in Ingary is a faerie tale affair, as its inhabitants well know. How wonderful for Martha Hatter! As the youngest of three sisters, she is surely destined for fame, wealth, and a perfect marriage.

It is considerably less wonderful for Sophie Hatter, the oldest of the three sisters. Everyone knows the oldest child will have at best an unremarkable life — if they are lucky. The oldest might be more likely to suffer a grim fate, which will serve to cast the youngest’s destiny in a brighter light. They might even, as Sophie does, find themselves the target of a curse that by rights should have been cast on a younger sister.


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Wish You Were Here

The Homeward Bounders — Diana Wynne Jones

1981’s The Homeward Bounders is a standalone science fantasy novel by Diana Wynne Jones.

Protagonist Jamie’s unremarkable life ended the day he stumbled across Them playing games with human destiny. Luckily for Jamie, the rules of the game include provisions for pieces who know too much, as Jamie does. Jamie was discarded from the game, consigned to wander between realities as a Bounder until he could find his way back home.

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The Stranger on the Couch

Archer’s Goon — Diana Wynne Jones

In Diana Wynne Jones’ 1984 standalone novel Archer’s Goon, thirteen-year-old Howard Sykes returns home to discover a stranger in his home. Rather alarmingly, it’s a very large stranger, the very goon of the title, and he’s not going anywhere until Howard’s father Quentin delivers the two thousand he owes someone named Archer.

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