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Drowned Ammet (1977)

by Diana Wynne Jones

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Dalemark Quartet (2)

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9571622,085 (3.8)26
When his protest against the tyrannical government fails, a young boy escapes, with two other children, to the mysterious Holy Islands where they learn the identity and the power of two folk figures celebrated by their countrymen.

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Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
Drowned Ammet is a challenging, interesting, disturbing, and very subversive children's book (which I heartily approve of). As the second book in The Dalemark Quartet, its story is jarring - especially if you didn't realize that each book focuses on a different character - and especially if you thought you were gonna read a cute children's story. DWJ isn't afraid to craft a dark tale about revenge, self-imposed exile, and the sins of our fore-bearers.

For Drowned Ammet, we are focused on Mitt. Born and bred in Holand, one of the South Dales, in the world of Dalemark. Mitt grows up with a mission (encouraged by his mother) to assassinate the cruel Earl Hadd, and implicate the Free Holanders who he believes caused his father’s death ( It’s an interesting story in the way it details a group rebelling against a tyrannical overlord–a device which has certainly been overused, especially in fantasy–but in an unconventional way). When the attempt goes awry, he ends up on the run, eventually stowing away aboard the Wind’s Road. There he meets Ynen and Hildy, Earl Hadd’s grandchildren, who have their own reasons for fleeing. It all gets more engaging when they cross paths with a stranger named Al AND super mystical when the ship comes under the protection of the local deities, Old Ammet and Libby Beer.

The book itself was a bit of a slog at times but the ending was shocking, mystical, and dark! But also very powerful. While violent, I loved the ending. Mitt is a character who is a product of his upbringing, his environment, and his time, one that happened to be a violent time. He needed for this connection to be destroyed. DJW message is about nature vs. nurture and the influence that parents have on their kids. It is also about free will. She shows that kids do not have to follow the direction they may be heading towards. If their parents are bad, they can be good. She shows that people can change; that they aren't destined to repeat the sins of their fathers (this is especially evident when Mitt finally admits to the error of ways regarding the attempted assassination). DJW also shows that parents must allow children to be responsible for their own lives, instead of telling them what they must become. Parents can either sow evil or peace into the hearts of their young but ultimately, it is also up to the child who they become.

"Again Old Ammet's young face laughed. "We are not the stuff of enemies or friends, Alhammit. Shall I ask this way: Will you come as conqueror or in peace?"

Will you be a conqueror or a peace maker? It's up to you to decide.

( )
  ryantlaferney87 | Dec 8, 2023 |
This is the second in the Dalemark quartet, and is set in the same timeframe roughly as 'Cart and Cwidder' but from the point of view of children actually brought up in the repressive southern Dales rather than the outsider minstrel children of the first volume.

Alhammitt, or Mitt as he is always known, starts off as a happy child with parents who are always laughing although life isn't easy on the farm. However, the animosity of a rent collector ends all that, with their father forced to look for work in the port of Holand and Mitt and his mother having to follow when they are evicted from their home. The parents soon turn to quarrelling, especially as Milda, Mitt's mother, is a feckless dreamer who often spends their money on trinkets or new shoes. Mitt's father joins a subversive organisation - of which there are many due to the tyranny of the Earls - and one night the group starts a fire at the docks. Mitt's father doesn't return and Mitt and his mother subsequently blame his comrades in the society for betraying him to the authorities.

Milda eggs Mitt on to get revenge and his life becomes dedicated to getting close to these men, by becoming a worker on the fishing boat one owns, and later by working for Milda's second husband, a renowned gunsmith, and trying to steal gunpowder. The revolutionaries have decided to create a bomb to kill the Earl of Holand at the annual festival where effigies are thrown into the sea of 'Old Ammet' and 'Libby Beer', characters who later become far more significant in the story. Mitt has his own agenda - to kill the Earl but let himself be captured so that he can put the blame onto his father's fellow revolutionaries.

A parallel story is that of brother and sister Hildrida and Ynen who live at the palace, the children of the Earl's youngest son. Despite the luxury of their surroundings, they have very proscribed lives. The events at the festival bring both them and Mitt into collision and ultimately a hardwon understanding.

As with a lot of DWJ's fiction, a great deal of the story revolves around the characters, and grows out of their characters. People have to rub along and learn tolerance and acceptance of others. Parents are not perfect and often let children down. Mitt is quite a frustrating character to follow because he is headstrong and his own worst enemy for a lot of the book. And some people probably won't like the 'deus ex machina' element in this story which was not present in 'Cart and Cwidder', but it is still a good page turning read with a really surprising twist. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
As we follow another protagonist through South Dalemark, readers are exposed to the freedom fighting efforts of the Southern people. Clearly the crowd feeling is of discontent towards the current ruling class of Earls, but actual movement towards social change has stagnated. Wynne explores themes of social unrest through the journey of teenager Mitt. His father was a freedom fighter before he disappeared (or died), and Mitt was raised to believe in the same social values. Yet when Mitt's chance to assassinate the Earl (and to take revenge on the men who informed on his father) goes awry he falls into the company of the runaway grandchildren of the Earl. Mitt begins to question his cause, the people he knows best (or thinks he knows), and his future choices as this chance interaction broadens his horizons on their journey North. A well thought-out second book in the quartet, and clearly a precursor for an eventful future! ( )
  JaimieRiella | Feb 25, 2021 |
Ouch. For Diana Wynne Jones to rate a 3 from me, that's rare. I liked some of it, I disliked much of it, she's a wonderful writer, but the plot and the pacing frustrated me. I'm also much more of a "let's have tea with the vicar" kind of person, and less of a "let's throw a bomb at the despot" kind of person. Rebels plotting to overthrow the ruler? Boring. And so, so much of the book was about this, and I wanted to shake the main character, and (as far as I can tell from later events) Ms. Jones wants us to want to to shake the main character, but it could have been dealt with in a single chapter, not a third of the book.

The bits from the point of view of Hildy seemed much more interesting to me, but ultimately she didn't seem to matter and her plot line faded away. The resolution was sudden, strange, and disappointing.

Really, it's only because she's such a good writer (her sentences are lively, simple, and interesting all at the same time) that this didn't descend to the 2 star level. And there are moments of joy, but they are few and far between. I read in a review this was an "early" book of hers, but it was published the same year as Charmed Life, which is a masterpiece, so I won't let her off the hook for inexperience.

(Note: 5 stars = amazing, wonderful, 4 = very good book, 3 = decent read, 2 = disappointing, 1 = awful, just awful. I'm fairly good at picking for myself so end up with a lot of 4s). I feel a lot of readers automatically render any book they enjoy 5, but I grade on a curve! ( )
  ashleytylerjohn | Oct 13, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 16 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Call, GregCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Noonan, JuliaCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Jos. A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Taylor, GeoffCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Whiteman, PeterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wyatt, DavidCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For my mother
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People may wonder how Mitt came to join in the Holand Sea Festival, carrying a bomb, and what he thought he was doing.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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When his protest against the tyrannical government fails, a young boy escapes, with two other children, to the mysterious Holy Islands where they learn the identity and the power of two folk figures celebrated by their countrymen.

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