The Chrestomanci series is a set of six novels and four stories of fantasy fiction, by British author Diana Wynne Jones. The books follow the life and times of an enchanter, Chrestomanci, who made his first appearance in the first novel of the series, Charmed Life, published in 1977.
Order of Chrestomanci Series
|2||The Magicians of Caprona||1980|
|4||The Lives of Christopher Chant||1988|
|6||The Pinhoe Egg||2006|
Chrestomanci the main character in the novels is an enchanter and British government officer with nine lives, charged with controlling and monitoring the use of magic in the related worlds in which the novels are set. The novels are set in Chrestomanci Castle, in a parallel world that resembles out own, where the practice of magic is as normal as making music.
The book series begins with the elder of the Chant children Gwendolen, petitioning the Chrestomanci to allow herself and her brother to move into the Chrestomanci Castle, to learn the art of enchantment under his tutelage. However, things go horribly wrong when trying to convince the Chrestomanci of her skills; her amateur magical fiddling makes her disappear and replaces her with an awkward lookalike named Janet.
Now Cat and Janet must do their best to make sure that Janet passes as Gwendolyn, while trying to reverse the magic. Working with Janet, Cat soon realizes that he is an enchanter with nine lives and that he is next in line to inherit the Chrestomanci enchanter gift. It turns out that his sister Gwendolen has no magical powers, and had been leaching his powers and passing it off as hers.
The Chrestomanci series of novels has been the recipient of many awards over the years. The first novel Charmed Life was a highly acclaimed nominee for the 1977 Carnegie Model, and in 1978 won the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize. Witch Week, the third novel won the School Journal Book of the Year, while Pinhoe Egg was a runner up for the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, as well as making the shortlist for the Young Readers Choice Award for the Pacific Northwest Library Association.
BEST CHRESTOMANCI BOOKS
Charmed Life: The multiple award winning first novel in the series is one of the most popular of the Chestomanci series of novels. Introducing some interesting characters in Gwendolen and her brother Cat, the novel is a very good introduction to Chrestomanci the enchanter as a forty-year-old man. Diana Jones writes a captivating story right from the very start, by introducing a rogue element in Gwendolen, a young promising, yet cunning and evil witch. While Gwendolen manages to get her audition before the Chrestomanci in his castle, she fails the test. In her frustration, she hatches a diabolical scheme that threatens to overthrow the castle, possibly throwing the world out of balance.
The Lives of Christopher: The second novel in the Chrestomanci series is another very popular title. With his mother a powerful witch and his uncles and father soem of the most powerful enchanters, Christopher Chant is quite an ordinary boy except for his dreams. Every night he somehow manages to crawl out and go into the marvelous lands where his magical dreams take place. He soon discovers that he can take and bring back physical objects that he comes across in his dreams. When the leaders of the enchanters recognize just how powerful of a gift he has, they order that he report to Chrestomanci Castle. There he is to be trained to be the custodian of the world’s most powerful magic.
Conrad’s Fate: Another fan favorite in the Chrestomanci series is the fourth book, Conrad’s Fate, one of the most tension packed novels in the series. Somebody at Stallery Mansion has been making some subtle changes to the world. Confident that they could not be smoked out, they are now making even bigger changes that could threaten the very existence of the world. It is now up to Christopher Chant the enchanter and Conrad a boy, to find the evil magician before it is too late.
OTHER BOOK SERIES YOU MAY LIKE
Many Chrestomanci fans also like the “Tales of Elemental Spirits” by Robin McKinley, and Peter Dickinson. The novels are tales of strange magical beings that range from science fiction characters to contemporary and mythic fantasy. Chrestomanci fans will also love the “Kat, Incorrigible” series by Stephanie Burgis. Katherine Stephenson is a girl that just inherited her mother’s magical powers, which she has to learn to use fast, if she is to protect the people that she loves.