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The Pinhoe Egg (2006)

by Diana Wynne Jones

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1,4383912,255 (3.97)76
Two powerful young enchanters, Cat, the future Chrestomanci, and Marianne, who is being trained to be Gammer of the Pinhoes, work together as friends to try to end an illegal witches' war and, in the process, right some old wrongs.

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» See also 76 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
This apparently is the last of the Chrestomanci series of which I have read a few of the earlier ones so I wasn't as lost as perhaps I might have been afterwards, at least knowing about Chrestomanci, the castle, Cat who is the nine-lived enchanter understudy to be the next Chrestomanci, Millie, Chrestomanci's wife and an enchanter in her own right, and their children Roger and Julia, plus Janet the girl from our world who ended up stranded in Chrestomanci's world after Cat's nasty sister Gwendolen caused havoc in 'Charmed Life'. However there was still a 'cast of thousands' as the beginning plonks us into the life of the villages around the castle where a few familes, the Pinhoes being one of the chief ones, have been hiding their magical abilities from the castle for centuries to avoid 'interference' from Chrestomanci and his predecessors. For the families are all witchy people who routinely misuse magic - although it is not till towards the end when it is revealed precisely how bad that misuse has been.

This is a story about adults behaving badly and victimising children in various ways. Brother Joe, who has his own ideas about magic, and sister Marianne are both pushed about by their family - it being the school holidays, they have already lined up a job for Joe at the castle as a boot boy but really because they want him to spy on the 'Big Man'. And Marianne ends up lumbered running general errands and helping out with her grandmother, Gammer Pinhoe the matriarch of the clan, who starts acting very peculiarly at the start of the story thanks to a spell from the rival Farleigh family. Gammer's manipulative behaviour is the driving force behind the magical feud which breaks out between the families and ends up being the catalyst to reveal just what they have been up to for centuries.

Along the way is the discovery of the egg which hatches into a griffin setting off the breaking of the century long secrecy and fulfilment of a prophecy, plus the arrival of a spookily intelligent horse Syracuse who soon becomes Cat's mount despite his procurement being at the insistence of Julia and Janet.

The book is rather long and a bit uneven. Partly a romp, partly a rather dark tale of imprisonment and torture, partly a rather drawn out account of the attempt to pacify Gammer, then of Marianne's realisation that no one will believe her about Gammer. It starts off with with three chapters dealing with the havoc Gammer causes and how she is gradually settled into ther new accommodation during which it seemed dozens of uncles and aunts plus two grand uncles are introduced. It was very difficult to keep these people differentiated and they had only sketchy characterisation at best. On top of this, there are the several children, various animals - and I wasn't a fan of the wandering cat - and the extended Chrestomanci circle which includes another sorceror, Jason and his new wife Irene. Plus other relations of Marianne and Joe - cousins etc including one who is working at the castle as an ostler but really is there to spy on Chrestomanci and family. And the various Farleigh characters too.

The cast is huge and at the end most of them sit down for an extended infodump at the pub where all is revealed about the various badness that has gone on and the reasons for it, which involved some rather odd history (baddies invaded centuries ago and the families' mistaken "mission" arose as a direct result, as these baddies were anti-magic/anti-nature. I assumed the Christian church was referenced until it was said that the Romans had conquered the baddies - if instead it was meant to be the Celts it doesn't make sense as they worshipped various nature deities. So I was thrown by that.) Anyway, I liked the fact that things ended on a happier note, but given the various issues would rate this at 3 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
As adorable as the rest in the series ( )
  OhDhalia13 | Apr 9, 2023 |
An enjoyable romp with "Cat" (Eric Chant, from Charmed Life) and Marianne, a friend he makes through visiting one of villages near Chrestomanci's castle. At times the story is rather muddled and unfocussed, but the chaotic life in the castle and the story around the egg was very entertaining. ( )
  SandyAMcPherson | Dec 22, 2022 |
It has the same feeling as "Charmed Life". There are fun everyday adventures with a bit of magic and a little mystery. I enjoyed it. ( )
  elderlingfae | Aug 11, 2022 |
A sequel to Charmed Life, with a focus on Cat, the Chrestomanci-in-training. Like The Magicians of Caprona, a major element is a war between families, but this one is much more interesting than the ersatz Romeo and Juliet Magicians. One reason is that the background is much more complicated, and only revealed only in a long denouement, so the mystery of exactly what is going is left up in the air much longer. Another helpful factor is that unlike Magicians all this takes place in Chrestomanci's backyard, so to speak, so there's a nice intermingling of characters from Charmed Life with the new protagonists. The only quibble I have is that the introduction of the key characters Joe and Marianne is so cursory that it's unclear if they're adults, older teens, or what.

Recommended. ( )
  ChrisRiesbeck | Jul 30, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dorman,BrandonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Doyle, GerardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zakris,Paulcover designsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At the beginning of the summer holidays, while Chrestomanci and his family were still in the south of France, Marianne Pinhoe and her brother Joe walked reluctantly up the steep main street of Ulverscote.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Two powerful young enchanters, Cat, the future Chrestomanci, and Marianne, who is being trained to be Gammer of the Pinhoes, work together as friends to try to end an illegal witches' war and, in the process, right some old wrongs.

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Book description
Marianne Pinhoe, from a family of hidden witches, gets entangled with Cat Chant and Chrestomanci when her family gets involved in a magical rivalry with another family.
Haiku summary
A clan of witches

A boy gets a griffin egg

Finds the fairy folk


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