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The Chronicles of Chrestomanci: Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant (2000)

by Diana Wynne Jones

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2,628305,336 (4.17)70
Adventures of the Chrestomanci, an enchanter with nine lives, whose job is to control the practice of magic in the infinite parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds.

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» See also 70 mentions

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**Charmed Life**: A OK start to the Chrestomanci series. The set up is parallel timelines, formed in the usual way when events diverge, but with most universes having magic, and little, if any, reference to our timeline. Chrestomanci is a position not a name. It is held by an enchanter -- always male apparently -- with multiple lives and greater than average magical powers. His primary duties is to lead a group of magicians in stopping bad sorts from importing weapons and such from other timelines. But the stories are told from the perspective of others peripheral, at least initially, to this endeavor.

Eric (Cat) Chant is the hapless main character of Charmed Life, who indeed seems to have escaped death, despite having no powers, while his sister Gwendolyn is a strong witch. The truth of the matter is somewhat other but most of the book is following the journey of Gwendolyn and Cat from becoming orphans to arriving at a school for magic. Cat is so put upon through much of the book that he's the least interesting character. The main reason to read is to watch the world building and Jones' trademark spins on fantasy tropes.

Recommended though not my favorite Jones.

**The Lives of Christopher Chant**: A prequel to Charmed Life that introduces Christopher Chant, who is Chrestomanci in Charmed Life, when he was a young boy similar to Eric Chant. Though not orphaned, he i effectively parentless and mostly powerless. His adventures are more interesting, as he has the talent of traveling between the parallel universes. Unfortunately, he is a quite clueless about the people he travels with for a frustratingly long time, and then, when crisis becomes, he becomes extraordinarily quick-witted and mature. While I'm sure that an author as strong on characters as Jones sees how young Christopher becomes the absent-mindedly subtle enchanter we see in Charmed Life, to me the child does not appear to be father to the man.

Still, recommended as a solid amusing fantasy read. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Mar 10, 2022 |
This has been one of my all time favorite series since I was a child, and now that I am an adult they still hold up. Both books are so charming, and have moments of absolute hilarity, as well as moments that make me cry. The magic system, and world building is so cool, and the main characters are so lovable, and the bad guys so hateable. I highly recommend them. ( )
  queenofthebobs | Jul 20, 2020 |
Funny, imaginative, interesting and very original. Each of her books/stories are so incredibly different from one another. This is rare in an author. It's as if she had a hard time reigning in her imagination, it just loved to fly. I was also surprised that this author had written something so currently readable. She was ahead of her time. ( )
  Debjani_Ray | Apr 30, 2014 |
From back of cover: Cat had no doubt that the man standing in the middle of the kitchen was the "Dark Stranger." Cat's sister Gwendolen had been told by a fortune Teller that she was destined for Great Things, and that a dominant dark stranger would have something to dow with it. So it was hardly surprising that when Cat saw the tall, dark we-dressed man standing in the kitchen, he thought it was Gwendolen's Dark stranger come to help her start ruling the world. Sometimes it was a trial being the brother of a powerful witch-especially when you have no magical gifts yourself. A fantastic series and Award winner. I came to it later than some of her series and stand-alone books. I miss her! ( )
  Sasha_Doll | Oct 19, 2013 |
Read as a child, reread, reread, reread. Charmed Life remains one of my favourite Wynne Jones books. I do not rate the entire series, or the spinoff published fanfic, but don't let that put you off reading - I own the six WJ collection books after all. ( )
1 vote findantonia | Jun 11, 2013 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Craig, DanCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dorman, BrandonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Cat Chant admired his elder sister Gwendolyn. She was a witch. He admired her and he clung to her. Great changes came about in their lives and left him no one else to cling to.
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Adventures of the Chrestomanci, an enchanter with nine lives, whose job is to control the practice of magic in the infinite parallel universes of the Twelve Related Worlds.

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