Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones

Most people die only once, but Christopher Chant can die again and again, or at least nine times. And at the rate that he is currently going, those nine lives won’t last very long.

Raised in a London mansion by a bevy of nurses and governesses, young Christopher lives a privileged but lonely existence, largely ignored by his flighty mother and distant father. But each night he escapes from the nursery into the Place Between from where he can enter into other worlds and where he befriends some of the interesting people that populate them.

But everything changes the day that Christopher's uncle shows up at his home, determined to take charge of the family’s failing finances and of Christopher’s future. There is even talk of going to school, which Christopher is quite excited about. Christopher is enchanted by this charismatic uncle who is the first adult to actually take a personal interest in him, and so when he requests that Christopher assist him with some experiments involving his cross-world visitations, Christopher eagerly complies.

At first the experiments are fun, and they lead Christopher to make new friends and discover new worlds. But after he gets stabbed in the chest by a spear and then burned to a crisp by a dragon, the excitement begins to wear off. Once at school Christopher becomes occupied with his new school friends and an obsession with cricket, and he no longer has time to go trekking in other worlds, to his uncle's dismay. Though Christopher's school days are short-lived as his father has other plans for him.

After being killed, once again, Christopher is pulled out of school by his father and presented to the
Chrestomanci in the belief that Christopher is really a nine-lived enchanter.
Furious at having his nephew whisked away from him, Christopher's uncle executes his revenge against the Chrestomanci and that is when Christopher discovers the truth about his family and his own unknowing participation in this sinister plot.

The Lives of Christopher Chant tells the story of the Chrestomanci as a child and is a prequel to Charmed Life, and the rest of the Chrestomanci books. If you are as a big of a Chrestomanci fan as I am, then you will be just as delighted to get to know him in his younger days, before he became the powerful enchanter of the first three books in the series.

The Lives of Christopher Chant is a wonderfully entertaining and intelligent story, making it a book that readers of any age can enjoy. The story is full of action, adventure and magic and the characters are likable and sympathetic. Christopher is wholly believable as a self absorbed young man who is much more interested in playing cricket than in becoming an enchanter. He can be pushy, arrogant and rude though he also has a strong sense of honor and loyalty and a streak of mischievous, all of which combine to make a compelling character that readers will come to care for. There is also the pleasure of discovering the surprising truth about Millie's origins, and getting to know her as a young girl.

I also really enjoyed finding out more about the different alternate world, which Jones’ had touched upon in Charmed Life, as well as reading about the development of another young nine-lived enchanter as he navigates the discovery of his own magical abilities and potential.

The story also includes those themes common in Jones’s books, of unreliable adults, distrustful children and the betrayal of those close to them. While these are all pretty heavy subjects, Jones works them in subtly so that they give the story depth while keeping it light enough for young readers to easily enjoy.

I highly recommend The Lives of Christopher Chant to readers of all ages, particularly those who are just begin to develop an interest in fantasy. Though I do suggest you read Charmed Life first because it will give you a better appreciation of the of the story’s characters .


Post a Comment

Thanks for leaving a comment!
I love hearing from you and I'll do my best to respond as soon as I can.


Book Reviews

Blog Archive

Blog Archive