Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Favorite Fictional Character: Chrestomanci

Posted by Simcha 9:41 AM, under | 5 comments

Favorite Fictional Character
Hosted by Ryan at Wordsmithonia

If you are a regular reader of my blog than you are likely to have noticed that I've been reading a lot of Diana Wynne Jones's books lately, and you might have also picked up on my great affection for one of her characters in particular, The Chrestomanci.

Chrestomanci is actually the official title for the powerful sorcerer who is employed by the government to supervise all of the world's magic users. But only those rare magicians with nine lives are powerful enough to someday take on the position of Chrestomanci. The Chrestomancis' are usually discovered by the current Chrestomanci when they are just children and by then they have often unknowingly used up many of their extra lives.

There is actually no one book that provides the full story of the current Chrestomanci, Christopher Chant, though each book in the series adds a little bit more to the picture of who the Chrestomanci is, slowly piecing together a memorable and unique character.

We first meet Chrestomanci as an adult, in the book Charmed Life, where he managed to make a real impression on me even though his role in that book is rather limited. Though it is there that I fell in love with his unintentional humor, his penchant for fancy robes and his deceivingly vague manner that belies his quick wits and vast intelligence. Plus he is handsome too. And whenever there is a crisis the Chrestomanci can be summoned by having his name called three times, at which point he will wander into the scene in a bewildered manner that confuses those who have called him for help, though he does quickly take charge of the situation, solving the current disaster.

In books two and three, the stories take place in other worlds where the Chrestomanci is often called upon to help with a crisis. But then in the fourth book, The Lives of Christopher Chant, we finally get to know the Christomanci as a child , eager for attention from his family and oblivious of his own magical abilities. Then in Conrad's Fate we re-encounter the Chrestomanci as a teenager, who is now looking more like the adult Chrestomanci that we have gotten to know, though young and cocky but with an endearing streak of mischief and unlimited loyalty towards his friends.

Even though the Chrestomanci as a characters is offered to readers in bits and pieces in the course of several different books, he still just really comes alive for me, making him one of my favorite and most memorable of fantasy book characters.


5 comments:

This actually sounds like a fun reader. It is too bad people may see wizard and immediately think Harry Potter. Or if they read a more adult book featuring a mage, it's Harry Dresden.

AGH! Chrestomanci is my FAVORITE! What an absolutely FABULOUS pick!!!! I love Christopher Chant and his crazyl, fancy robes. I think the Chrestomanci series is by far my favorite by Diana Wynne Jones.
What a FABULOUS favorite fictional character pick!!

I'm seriously going to have to check this one out. I'm so not familiar with him or the series but it does sound like a lot of fun.

Stewart: Well the Chrestomanci came before either Harry and Diana Wynne Jones's books have inspired a number of today's popular fantasy authors, so they are definitely worth checking out if you have not yet done so.

Ryan: I hope you do, and your son might enjoy these books as well. I look forward to hearing your opinion of them.

I love Chrestomanci too. When the seventh Harry Potter book came out, and I was feeling sad to find Dumbledore had flaws, I found it obscurely comforting to reread the whole Chrestomanci series.

I was so impressed when I read Conrad's Fate at the way Diana Wynne Jones managed to make Christopher and Millie so much like their grown-up selves on one hand and so much like their young selves on the other. Quite an achievement, making them highly believable halfway points of themselves.

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