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Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones Review

Title: Cart and Cwidder

Author: Diana Wynne Jones

First published January 1, 1975

214 pages, Hardcover

ISBN: 9780066237459 (ISBN10: 0066237459)

Rating: 3.85


Diana Wynne Jones weaves her magic once again in the first book of the Dalemark Quartet, Cart and Cwidder. Meet Clennen and his family, talented musicians who travel the villages of Dalemark in their colorful cart.

But in a kingdom torn apart by warring earldoms and spies, the musicians often find themselves carrying more than just their instruments. When they take on a mysterious passenger named Kialan, they soon realize that his fate is tied with theirs.

As they journey through a land where danger lurks around every corner, the family must use their music to survive. With each book in this enchanting series, you’ll be drawn deeper into the captivating world of Dalemark.

About the Author

Diana Jones was born in London to Marjorie and Richard Jones, both teachers. When she was five, she was evacuated to Wales due to the war and moved several times afterwards, including to Coniston Water, York, and back to London.

Eventually, in 1943, her family settled in Thaxted, Essex where her parents ran an educational conference centre. Jones spent her childhood with her two younger sisters, Isobel and Ursula, mostly unsupervised.

She attended the Friends School Saffron Walden and later studied English at St Anne’s College in Oxford where she was taught by both C. S.

Lewis and J. R.

R. Tolkien.

In 1956, she graduated and married John Burrow, a scholar of medieval literature, with whom she had three sons.

Jones started writing during the mid-1960s mostly to maintain her sanity while living in a house owned by an Oxford college with her husband and three children. Her first book, Changeover, was published in 1970 and is a farce set in a fictional African colony during transition.

It features a large cast of characters including government, police, and army bureaucrats and touches on themes of sex, politics, and news.

Jones’ books range from amusing slapstick situations to sharp social observation and witty parody of literary forms. Her works are compared to those of Robin McKinley and Neil Gaiman, with whom she was friends.

Jones won several awards for her works, including the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1978 for Charmed Life and the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award in 1996 for The Crown of Dalemark. Her books are frequently compared to the works of J.K. Rowling, and many of her earlier children’s books have been reissued for a new generation of readers.

Editoral Review

Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones is a classic young adult fantasy novel that was first published in 1975. Jones was a prolific writer, best known for her Chrestomanci series and for her novel Howls Moving Castle, which was adapted into an acclaimed Studio Ghibli film.

Cart and Cwidder is one of Joness earliest works, and it showcases her talents for world-building, character development, and storytelling. The novel is set in a fictional kingdom with a medieval atmosphere, where music plays a central role in society.

The main character is Moril, a young boy who is part of a family of traveling musicians known as the Singers. The Singers use a magical instrument called a cwidder to create music that can shape reality and influence peoples emotions.

However, their way of life is threatened by a corrupt and oppressive regime that seeks to control all music and suppress dissent. Moril is a complex and sympathetic protagonist who must navigate the tensions within his family and the dangers of the wider world.

He is torn between his love for music and his sense of duty to fight for justice and freedom. Along the way, he meets a cast of memorable characters, including a princess, a spy, a rebel leader, and a sorceress.

Joness writing style is engaging, imaginative, and poetic. She creates a vivid and immersive world full of rich details and colorful imagery.

Her descriptions of music and magic are particularly enchanting, and she weaves them into the narrative in organic and inventive ways. The plot of the novel is well-paced and full of surprises, with several twists and turns that keep the reader engaged.

One of the strengths of Cart and Cwidder is its exploration of themes such as power, oppression, resistance, and identity. Jones uses the fantasy genre to comment on real-world issues in a nuanced and thought-provoking way.

She questions the role of art and culture in society, and she advocates for the importance of individuality and diversity. Her portrayal of political intrigue and social upheaval is realistic and insightful, and it adds depth and relevance to the story.

However, the novel is not without its flaws. Some readers might find the pacing of the first few chapters slow, as Jones takes her time to establish the world and the characters.

Additionally, some of the plot threads could have been developed further, especially towards the end of the book. The climax of the novel is satisfying, but it feels somewhat rushed compared to the rest of the story.

Overall, Cart and Cwidder is a captivating and rewarding read that will appeal to fans of young adult fantasy and to anyone who enjoys a well-crafted tale. Joness writing is beautiful and evocative, and her characters are realistic and relatable.

The novels themes and messages are timely and poignant, and they resonate with readers of all ages. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a magical and thought-provoking adventure.

Rating: 4.5/5

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