Book: Conrad’s Fate

"Conrad's Fate" by Diana Wynne JonesSomeone at Stallery Mansion is changing the world. At first, only small details, but the changes get bigger and bigger. It’s up to Conrad, a twelve-year-old with terrible karma who’s just joined the mansion’s staff, to find out who is behind it.

But he’s not the only one snooping around. His fellow servant-in-training, Christopher Chant, is charming, confident, and from another world, with a mission of his own–rescuing his friend, lost in an alternate Stallery Mansion. Can they save the day before Conrad’s awful fate catches up with them?

And with this book, I now only have three Chrestomanci books left to find and read.

Conrad’s Fate takes us to a new world, one where probabilities can be shifted–and constant physical changes in life and the way of living is normal. Wait, I think that sounds confusing. Let’s try that again. Imagine you were holding an apple. And then, suddenly, you’re holding on orange with nary an apple in sight. In fact, no one remembers apples. And then, just as suddenly, you’re holding a bowl of cherries and people can remember apples again, but don’t remember you were holding one two minutes ago. But not everyone forgets. There’s you, and there are a handful of other people who remember for a while–and then forgets. By then, they’ve accepted that you’ve been holding the bowl of cherries the whole time.

Imagine a world like that. And imagine you were living in it.

I have to say, I love how Miss Jones creates world that are basically off-shoots of the one we live in. Especially since she creates them in such a way that you can’t mistake them for our world–and yet manages to make them familiar enough that you don’t spend too much time wondering about the environment. You just delve right into the characters and the story. I also love the fact that the Chrestomanci books are so expansive. That there are treasure troves of stories waiting to be told. If only Miss Jones were still alive to tell them.

But let’s not dwell on what can no longer happen, and go back to what has already been written. Specifically, the story of Conrad’s Fate.

I highly enjoyed the unlikely-hero vibe that Conrad employs throughout the whole story. It probably helped that Conrad wasn’t exactly hero material–nor did he aspire to be one. He was just looking out for himself. With most fantasy books always having big magical mishaps/apocalypse about to happen, it’s nice to see one where our main protagonist just wants to save himself. Aside from being refreshing, it’s also more plausible. I mean, seriously, unless you’re the most powerful enchanter in the world, would you really choose to save the lives of many first before your sense of self-preservation kicks in?

With Conrad, we really do get the everyday man. Sure he has powers too. But reading the book, his powers felt more like a device to make sure we readers can follow the story–and the gravity of what is happening in Stallery Mansion. Conrad didn’t really do anything grand. Well, save for three things that are too important to the storytelling for me to spoil it for you. If you haven’t read the book yet. If you have–yes, I’m talking about those three things. Don’t pretend you don’t know. Okay, well the one thing isn’t really that important. And it has already been spoiled by the book’s synopsis, so I’ll share: Conrad can take photos of alternate worlds–on top of one another. I don’t know how useful that power is, but it’s a power. Apparently.

Well, at least it helps him identify shifts in probabilites.

Also, I love how the story tackles the problem with destiny premises. I mean, we get so many stories that have heroes go up against evil wizards, dark lords, etc, because they were told it’s their destiny. This gets turned around in Conrad’s Fate when Conrad goes to Stallery Mansion to clear his karma, because of his supposed destiny, only to find out otherwise. I want to expound on this more (and I did, but I had to erase it.) It spoils too much of the story. And I really want people to read the story and uncover the secrets of Stallery Mansion on their own.

Overall, Conrad’s Fate was highly enjoyable. Took me a while to finish the book, but it was more because of work than the quality of the book.

Check out what other people have to say about the book:
Dear J
Sonder Books
Fantasy Book Review

2 thoughts on “Book: Conrad’s Fate

    • They are, aren’t they? Warm and delightful, I mean. Her books are perfect for lazy afternoons where you just want to escape from reality, to be swept away into some magical realm!

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