Book: The Magicians of Caprona

"The Magicians of Caprona" by Diana Wynne JonesCasa Montana and Casa Petrocchi look after the magical business in the Dukedom of Caprona, where music is enchantment and spells are as slippery as spaghetti. The families have been feuding for years, so when all the spells start going wrong, each naturally blames the other.

When Chrestomanci turns up, it confirms all their suspicions–something is terribly wrong. Can the rumours of a White Devil who threatens Caprona be true after all?

I want to start this blog post by saying that I completely enjoyed reading The Magicians of Caprona. For a book written thirty years ago, it has held up very well–but this is hardly surprising. After all, it was written by the late Diana Wynne Jones, a fantastic weaver of words, and a genius in creating worlds.

Like with The Lives of Christopher Chant, our main protagonist is a child. I guess there’s something more magical about fantasy worlds when they are seen through a child’s eyes. And like The Lives…, The Magicians of Caprona is also a Chrestomanci story. Except, it really isn’t. Sure the Chrestomanci (a sort-of guardian of the use of magic) does appear in the story, but I feel like he is hardly important. I mean, the story could move forward even without his presence. Which is why I don’t get why he’s even needed in the story–why it’s even necessary for this to be part of the Chrestomanci collection.

In Miss Jones’ other saga, with the Wizard Howl, the stories are weaved in such a way that the wizard is actually integral to the events that will unfold in the story. And while such is also the case for the Chrestomanci here in The Magicians of Caprona, it could also be portrayed by any other characters. Heck, the part can even be written out!

This is only my second Chrestomanci story, so I don’t know if all the books in the series are like this. I hope they aren’t.

But, as I said earlier on, I did enjoy The Magicians of Caprona. I thought it was a brilliant story of how teamwork and communication are two very important things to employ in one’s life.

As the blurb says, we have two warring families that are blaming each other for the weakening of magic in Caprona. What they don’t realize is that there is an outside force that is doing its best to bring down the two magical families so Caprona will be left defenseless. And it’s because of the families’ prejudice against each other that they are further put in danger. And so it becomes up to four children from the two families, and a Romeo-and-Juliet-type lovers, to try to break the feud between the families and unite them against the White Devil.

I liked how the story brings up the values of teamwork and proper communication in the book, and I think it would be a great book to ask children to read. The values aren’t forced down their throats, and children will definitely enjoy the adventures our hero Tonino and his newfound friend goes through just to help save Caprona from the White Devil.

This is one book I’d actually like to see as a film, or TV-Movie. Miss Jones writes her scenes with such vision that you’re actually not just reading the book–you’re living the story in full color. But sometimes, even imagination isn’t enough. For a story this grand, I’d like to see actual people (or even animated people) going through the adventures she’s describing.

And now that I’ve finished reading The Magicians of Caprona, I’m on the lookout for the rest of the Chrestomanci books–hoping that the Chrestomanci will be playing a larger role–if not a more integral one.

Check out what other people have to say about the book:
Fantasy Book Review
A Garden Carried in the Pocket
Read in a Single Sitting

Book: The Lives of Christopher Chant

"The Lives of Christopher Chant" by Diana Wynne JonesDiscovering that he has nine lives and is destined to be the next ‘Chrestomanci’ is not part of Christopher’s plans for the future: he’d much rather play cricket and wander around his secret dream worlds. But he soon finds that destiny is difficult to avoid, and that having more than the usual number of lives is pretty inconvenient–especially when you them as easily as he does!

Then an evil smuggler, known only as The Wraith, threatens the ways of the worlds and forces Christopher to take action…

This was one of the books I bought when I was just starting out with this blog. Who knew that it would take a year for me to get around to reading it? Needless to say, I loved taking a break from work with the book–though it did take me a few days to actually finish it as life got a little bit busy in the work front. But that’s beside the point of this post. I am here to share that I loved reading the book; it was exactly what I needed to get my mind off work during those few minutes I had to myself prior to sleeping.

Too much information?

Anyway, onto the book itself–

I loved how Miss Jones, may she rest in peace, wrote the character of Christopher Chant that you couldn’t help but empathize with him. Here was a young boy, all set for the great adventure of school and cricket–and suddenly he gets transplanted into a private tutorship with a high-ranking official. Trust me, it’s less creepy than it currently sounds.

When we follow Christopher’s life (or lives, as it were) as they take the numerous twists and turns provided by the people surrounding him, we see things through his eyes–and this, I think, makes the book really absorbing. Christopher has this wide-eyed innocence about him that you feel as if you’re discovering these magical world with him–even though he’s lived there all his life, and we’re just visitors. But what really amazed me in Miss Jones’s writing is how she was able to twist it around in the end to make Christopher seem like the unlikeable person in the eyes of the other characters. And then you look back to the chapters when you’ve seen him interact with the characters who don’t like him, and you understand where they’re coming from.

Miss Jones writes Christopher with such childlike glee, that Christopher really does come out as a child.

Considering that the book was published way back in 1988, I’m not going to comment much on the twist. I’m sure back then it was very shocking to have a friend turn out to be not so friendly–but it’s become a bit of a trope nowadays. Admittedly, it is very well-plotted out though–which is why, I guess, it was so easy to see where the story was heading with that particular story thread.

I do love how Miss Jones explains parallel worlds though–which I won’t elaborate on, as they play a part in this book’s story.

The Lives of Christopher Chant is an amazing children’s book that would be perfect as a gift–especially to those who have read the Harry Potter series (and not much else) and are looking for new worlds to explore.