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I ve heard vague things about the Dalemark Quartet for a long time as with so many things I read, I suppose , and today seemed the perfect time to start, while I was procrastinating from my dissertation It doesn t feel quite like any other Diana Wynne Jones book I can think of there s something rather serious about it, ultimately, where often her books seem to be rather frivolous Perhaps it s the oppressive setting of the South, where there are few basic freedoms, perhaps it s the fact th I ve heard vague things about the Dalemark Quartet for a long time as with so many things I read, I suppose , and today seemed the perfect time to start, while I was procrastinating from my dissertation It doesn t feel quite like any other Diana Wynne Jones book I can think of there s something rather serious about it, ultimately, where often her books seem to be rather frivolous Perhaps it s the oppressive setting of the South, where there are few basic freedoms, perhaps it s the fact that the magic when it comes is a little bit awful view spoiler Or at least, that s how I have to feel about half an army being buried under the hills which ve been made to walk over them, in vengeance for the death of a horse But there I m a pacifist by nature hide spoiler It s an interesting world, really, and something about it feelsthree dimensional than some of Diana Wynne Jones others At the same time, it s surprising to see a work of hers with so many trappings of conventional fantasy though it does remain uniquely her own work as well It s just closer to what you d expect from the fantasy genre at large than from Diana Wynne Jones I ve been trying to read this quartet since I was gifted the books over a decade ago I still don t know why I never managed especially after finally picking up this first book yesterday and realising that it is fantastic and not at all difficult.It s strangely sombre for a children s book, the world is a harsh place and the journey that the main characters go on is challenging in a way that quests rarely seem to be these days The consequences are as harsh as the world they belong to, and dea I ve been trying to read this quartet since I was gifted the books over a decade ago I still don t know why I never managed especially after finally picking up this first book yesterday and realising that it is fantastic and not at all difficult.It s strangely sombre for a children s book, the world is a harsh place and the journey that the main characters go on is challenging in a way that quests rarely seem to be these days The consequences are as harsh as the world they belong to, and death though shocking is an easily accepted thing Maybe this is why I struggled to read it as a child Moril is a wonderful lead character, and the music theme is explored differently than I ve seen before though of course this is Diana Wynne Jones and so I would expect no less This was one of the first books I read by Diana Wynne Jones, back in the days when I would read and love a book and then lack the good sense to look up other books by the same author I must have stumbled over three or four of her books this way before discovering DWJ what a surprise to me, later, to pick up one of her books and find it oddly familiar.Diana Wynne Jones s sixth book is her first fantasy set in a world other than our own, and is alsoserious than the previous ones The Dal This was one of the first books I read by Diana Wynne Jones, back in the days when I would read and love a book and then lack the good sense to look up other books by the same author I must have stumbled over three or four of her books this way before discovering DWJ what a surprise to me, later, to pick up one of her books and find it oddly familiar.Diana Wynne Jones s sixth book is her first fantasy set in a world other than our own, and is alsoserious than the previous ones The Dales are a country divided north and south the North is a land of freedom, and the South is dominated by oppressive lords who tax the people heavily and ferret out rebellion wherever it sprouts Moril s family are traveling performers and some of the few allowed to cross between the countries, carrying messages between towns and entertaining with song and story When Moril s father Clennen takes a young passenger named Kialan, their lives take a different turn, and Moril discovers the truth about the old cwidder his father plays and that he s told Moril will be his someday.Family is at the heart of this story, and family is one of the things DWJ does best It s a truism in young adult literature that the first thing an author has to do is kill off the parents so the children have to depend on themselves I think the first part of that statement is what gets remembered, when the second part is what s actually true YA literature requires that children learn to solve problems because adults are not reliable, for many reasons In Cart and Cwidder the parents are present, but not reliable, because they have their own lives Clennen is absorbed in performances, and their mother Lenina sorry, I keep having Brave New World flashbacks with that name is cool, efficient, but distant It s true that Moril and his siblings Brid and Dagner end up on their own view spoiler because Clennen is killed and Lenina goes back to the man she actually loves hide spoiler , but that s about halfway through the book And even then, that abandonment is because both parents have lives of their own and this makes the point evenpowerfully than if the book had simply started with three orphans making their way in the cold, cruel, heartless world Cart and Cwidder marks a satisfying change in DWJ s approach to fantasy fiction I recommend reading the entire series in the order listed, even though The Spellcoats comes first chronologically I love Ms Jones with all of my heart, and that is why it pains me to admit that I didn t really enjoy these stories There was no connection between the stories although the first two novels are set during the same period, they concern two completely different cultures and geographic areas the difference between A Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian for instance , so there s really no point at having them all part of the same quartet Moreover, the stories just didn t grab me I don t know I love Ms Jones with all of my heart, and that is why it pains me to admit that I didn t really enjoy these stories There was no connection between the stories although the first two novels are set during the same period, they concern two completely different cultures and geographic areas the difference between A Horse and His Boy and Prince Caspian for instance , so there s really no point at having them all part of the same quartet Moreover, the stories just didn t grab me I don t know why not, but these are probably her least enjoyable works After hearing about the genius of Diana Wynne Jonestimes than I can count, I have finally joined the ranks of her admirers Jones truly knows her craft I found many similarities between her writing and the writing of Megan Whalen Turner Namely, amazing plot twists, nuanced characters, and a finished project worth reading over and over I m glad this is a series of four, because I am far from being done with her incredible universe.Update 1 16 Still good Still good. Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite writers from my childhood and Cart Cwidder is one of my favourite of her books, and so it was the one I chose to re read for DWJ month in the blogosphere a global celebration of her books and writing This is the story of a family of musical travellers in a world divided between North and South, and has DWJ s trademark mix of the ordinary and the magical A truly delightful children s fantasy Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favourite writers from my childhood and Cart Cwidder is one of my favourite of her books, and so it was the one I chose to re read for DWJ month in the blogosphere a global celebration of her books and writing This is the story of a family of musical travellers in a world divided between North and South, and has DWJ s trademark mix of the ordinary and the magical A truly delightful children s fantasy this was comforting in a way that a lot of 90s early 2000s mg books are i love that it felt very small scale and intimate despite the larger scale issues that came into play, and how human the characters were a favorite moment was when the older kids fa tried to stay up late to keep watch and then promptly fell asleep the next day and the younger kids just kind of rolled their eyes and the different skills they brought to the table, and the way it felt so traditional and simple while having a this was comforting in a way that a lot of 90s early 2000s mg books are i love that it felt very small scale and intimate despite the larger scale issues that came into play, and how human the characters were a favorite moment was when the older kids fa tried to stay up late to keep watch and then promptly fell asleep the next day and the younger kids just kind of rolled their eyes and the different skills they brought to the table, and the way it felt so traditional and simple while having all kinds of fun trope subversions and surprises and depths i did think there was a bit too much info dumping and spelling things out for the reader but i still loved it and diana wynne jones is brilliant &DOWNLOAD ☠ Cart and Cwidder ↠ For centuries, Dalemark has been a land divided by the warring earldoms of the North and South Now, with the help of the Undying, the mysterious gods of Dalemark, four extraordinary young people from the past, present, and future must join forces to reunify their beloved land When Moril inherits his father s prized instrument a Cwidder said to have belonged to one of the Undying he must learn to harness its strange power in time to prevent a destructive civil war I wasn t sure I liked this all tha tmuch, right up until the last third I think it s fairly obvious this is an early book of DWJ s The first two thirds is really all set up First she sets up this travelling family who act as a performance troupe, and the general politics of Dalemark North v South , then tragedy befalls said family, and the three children and the person they were taking north have to fend for themselves view spoiler Obviously the person turns out to be the Prince of the I wasn t sure I liked this all tha tmuch, right up until the last third I think it s fairly obvious this is an early book of DWJ s The first two thirds is really all set up First she sets up this travelling family who act as a performance troupe, and the general politics of Dalemark North v South , then tragedy befalls said family, and the three children and the person they were taking north have to fend for themselves view spoiler Obviously the person turns out to be the Prince of the North that they re smuggling back home And a truly fabulous character in the second half of the book, when his identity is revealed And the instrument the second son Moril aka the Cwidder has been handed down by his father is magical Oh, and their father was a legendary spy for the north Who was an excellent spy by living such a public life, no one would have ever suspected him hide spoiler Thing is, I wasn t super invested in the first third The mother is almost a non entity Not much happens Just four squabbling kids, and then a sudden murder and escape But it all comes together when Moril starts realizing what his Cwidder can do, and why his parents are were like they are were, and exactly what the difference is between him and his siblings And he realizes why he wants to do what he s doing Then there is some discussion about reasons for doing things, and telling the truth and about performance, and it s really lovely I seriously enjoyed the last third a lot.But the caveat is, that no matter how well a book comes together in the last third, it still needs to be excellent in the first two thirds And this book didn t always achieve that The realizations Moril comes to are really excellent, but he comes to them by just sitting and reflecting most of the time I felt like there could have been better development leading up to them in the first half of the book.Also, I ve read two of DWJ s books in a row now, and something has occured to me DWJ doesn t sanitize her children s books People die People are murdered The villains are actually horrible view spoiler The villain in this one, Thorian, kills Moril s father, the famous bard in the woods where no one will see him, instead of having a trial, precisely because he knows the bard was well loved, and would enjoy putting on that final performance Also, a quiet death provides no danger of a rebellion It s cooly logical, and unbelievably vicious and chilling hide spoiler It s a quality I think DWJ should be commended for.However, I also think that maybe what her books are occasionally lacking is something in the heart of them Because people die or are presumed dead in both books, but I wasn t particularly upset The characters around them grieve, but it s not particularly affecting to the reader, I find Not always Maybe it isn t meant to be, as a concession towards the audience But I suspect it s one of the reasons why I don t love some DWJ books as much as I love others Review can also be found on combustiblereviews.comThis is a really interesting plot with great characters and written well too WHICH IS WHY I M SO DISAPPOINTED This is nowhere near long enough I feel as if the Author couldn t be bothered to delve further and fill out all the brilliant plot points Everything s covered, but in a very shallow way.The plot headed in a great direction and I was enjoying it despite the pace I found some things happening were too blunt, but, considering Diana Wynne Review can also be found on combustiblereviews.comThis is a really interesting plot with great characters and written well too WHICH IS WHY I M SO DISAPPOINTED This is nowhere near long enough I feel as if the Author couldn t be bothered to delve further and fill out all the brilliant plot points Everything s covered, but in a very shallow way.The plot headed in a great direction and I was enjoying it despite the pace I found some things happening were too blunt, but, considering Diana Wynne Jones, is one of my favourite Authors I assumed there was a reason And there was, but it still happened too quick and, despite explaining why, it was never addressed.Nothing quite became of the plot I had a lot of expectations and build up, but it ended way too soon The book, at 180 odd pages, is way too short.This may be an enjoyable read for a younger person dipping their imaginations into fantasy for the first time because, as I said, it is well written I just wanted MORE It s like only having one crisp, potato chip whatever you call them , out of the bag Yummy, but not fulfilling NO, I WANT TO EAT THE ENTIRE BAG D I will be reading the next book, in this four book series , and we ll see if it s worth continuing the series.To sum up, Good plot, Good characters, Way too short leaving you disappointed.Was it worth the read NoWould I re read NoWould I read this Author again Yes