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The Islands of Chaldeaby Diana Wynne Jones
One generally fears for posthumously completed versions of an author's unfinished work, but fans should rest easy knowing that The Islands of Chaldea is a sweet middle-grade adventure that sparkles with trademark Diana Wynne Jonesian wit (not to mention vivid characters, cantankerously loveable magical beasts, and slippery magic).
Synopses & Reviews
The Islands of Chaldea is a new novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who left behind many acclaimed and beloved books upon her death in 2011, including the internationally bestselling Howl's Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci books. The Islands of Chaldea was completed by Diana Wynne Jones's sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.
Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen's magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she'll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that — and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones.
"Set in a luminous and beguiling magical land, this standalone novel was begun by acclaimed fantasist Wynne Jones before her death in 2011 and has been seamlessly completed by her sister Ursula, an actress and writer. Just a day after Eileen seems to fail her initiation into her family's magical tradition, she and her Aunt Beck — a fully-fledged Wise Woman — are sent on a quest to breach the mysterious barrier that separates the islands of Skarr, Bernica, and Gallis from the enemy land of Logra. Accompanying Eileen and Beck are Ivar — the haughty prince whom Aileen plans to marry ('Until then I feel free to admire him greatly in secret') — and Ogo, an awkward Logran boy. More companions join the travelers, including a sometimes-invisible giant cat that Aileen nicknames Plug-Ugly. As Aileen grows into her own powers, she reunites with long-lost family and reassesses her romantic plans. Though the plot twists are slightly less fiendish than in previous works, Wynne Jones's humor, compassion, and invention continue to delight throughout this exhilarating tale. A story to cherish. Ages 8 12. (Apr.) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“The best children's writer of the last 40 years.” Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline
“Readers are treated to a nonstop plot, memorable characters, and signature DWJ touches.…For younger readers, a worthy introduction to the delights of the late, lamented master fantasist.” The Horn Book
How are you supposed to turn into a Wise Woman if your powers don't show up?
Aileen comes from a long line of magicworkers. And her own gifts should have been even greater. But she failed her initiation so completely that she doubts she'll ever become as magical as her aunt Beck, the most powerful magicworker in Skarr.
So when the High King sends Aileen and Aunt Beck on a secret — and suspicious — quest across all the Islands of Chaldea, Aileen worries she'll only be in the way.
Hmmm, as Aunt Beck would say. What blather.
The quest is not at all what it seems, and Aileen must puzzle out her own way after Aunt Beck angers another formidable sorceress. With the help of a (mostly) invisible cat, a (surprisingly) wise parrot, and a ragtag band of allies, Aileen will see her magic bloom. And while she's at it, she might even rescue her missing father and save a lost prince.
About the Author
Diana Wynne Jones (1934-2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards — and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter — her books were filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.
Ursula Jones is an actress, children's author, and playwright. She has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Unicorn Theatre for Children. Her books include The Youngsters and The Lost King. She lives in London.
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