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I know a lot of Diana Wynne Jones fans don't particularly like this book but I really loved it I loved the oddball cast of characters that are all thrown together, I loved the strange plot and different magical races and people, and I enjoyed seeing Diana Wynne Jones write adult voices For me everything clicked and although I wasn't very taken with the main romance and protagonist because I enjoyed all the other characters so much it didn't really matter to me I'm already looking forward to reading this one again. A Sudden Wild Magic was, I believe, Diana Wynne Jones's first formal foray into adult fantasy (though of course many of her young adult and children's fantasy appeals to adults as well) This is my third or fourth reread of it, and although I enjoy it, I still don't think it works as well as most of her other books.The story takes place in two universes: our own, and the universes of the Pentarchy, whose mages are creating environmental havoc on Earth in order to learn from Earth's mages' responses to the crises When the Earth mages learn this, they send a group of their own to the Pentarchy to stop their operations There are plenty of laughs and lots of interesting characters, but there's a multiplicity of plotlines and of viewpoints which doesn't quite work for me; the ultimate villain isn't even onstage for the majority of the book, and it makes the ending feel a little unconnected to the rest of the book If you want to try some DWJ targeted towards adults, I'd recommend Deep Secret over A Sudden Wild Magic. 3.5 starsNot my favorite DWJ bookit's an Adult book (very, very specifically) and this is why I feel like she should have stuck with children's books XD Don't feel like writing a whole review But I def don't recommend for younger readers, and feel like a lot of my friends wouldn't care for this due to some of the content Definitely don't start out with DWJ with this onestart with Howl's Moving Castle, because it's the best :D This was definitely an interesting read, and while I didn't care for some of it, it was gripping and fascinating as alwaysI'm pretty sure DWJ can't write a terrible book, just not her best And the car stuff was pretty funny XD And I liked some of the characters at times (just less than usual) and some of it was fun And centaurs :DAnyway, not a mustread, but I'm glad I got around to reading it in my continuing journey to read all of DWJ's books. Wasn't sure what to expect with this book which I gathered was an adult novel from DWJ well known for her children's and young adults' fantasy fiction In the event, it read very similarly to her books for younger children, for example the Chrestomanci series, but with the addition of mostly low key and certainly non explicit references to sex and with a plot that hinged partially on the ability of a team of women agents to seduce their male hosts.In a nutshell, our world has been influenced for some time by an adjacent reality where the wizards have been creating problems such as war, global warming (the book was published in 1992) and HIV, and then observing how we deal with such issues, stealing any ideas that seem good to them They then send these ideas to the rest of their people for technical reasons, they are in a pocket universe linked to the main one The magical practitioners of Great Britain discover this and set about fighting back; hence the team sent in in the hope of destablising the hostile regime For reasons to do with it not being possible to have a personal duplication aka analogue of yourself in the universe you are entering, there are a lot of casualties en route.I found this story hard to relate to on a number of levels Firstly the idea that serious problems affecting the real world are trivialised in this way; I just found that hard to accomodate Then, a lot of the characters were very difficult to distinguish The lead female character who enters the other world is a wimp for most of the book, and the man she moons over is a non entity (although there is a plot reason for the latter) The baby talk of her 2 year old, whom only she and one other character can understand, becomes a bit tiresome after a while: surely the child would say one or two intelligble words?It is quite hard to tell most of the women who are on the invasion team apart, or most of the men they meet for that matter The only characters I liked were Gladys, the old female magic worker, and Tod the resourceful cadet who helps the women And I quite liked there being centaurs, one of them very grumpy I also liked the comedic conga scene But I felt the solutions were too simplistic for a book meant to be for adults especially (view spoiler)[the female villain being possessed by a demonictype entity (hide spoiler)] ( Read ) ♅ A Sudden Wild Magic ⚉ Our world has long been protected by The Ringa benevolent secret society of witches and conjurers dedicated to the continuance and wellbeing of humankind Now, in the face of impending climatic disaster, the Ring has uncovered a conspiracy potentially destructive than any it has ever had to contend with For eons, the mages of a neighboring universe have been looting the Earth of ideas, innovations and technologiesall the while manipulating events and creating devastating catastrophes for their own edification And unless the brazen piracy is halted, our planet is certainly doomed Aboard a modified city omnibus, a raiding party of adepts is dispatched to Arth, the stronghold of the interfering Pentarchya world ruled by magic, ritual and unbending tradition And while the Inner Ring on Earth battles spies, traitors and the terrifying sendings of an evil, wouldbe queen, a motley group of commandoes launches a cynical attack on the virtue of the great citadel of Arthdetermined to conquer the mighty fortress through internal dissension, psychological sabotage and kamikaze sex But ultimately the destiny of two separate universes is in the hands of a trio of unlikely champions: a dotty old Earth woman, caretaker to many cats and a bizarre, simianlike familiara rebellious heir to the Pentarchy, whose birthright enables him to perform astonishing featsd Zillah, a beautiful but troubled young mother who unknowingly possesses the wildest, strangest, and most powerful magic of all A Sudden Wild Magic is a breathtakingly original, consistently delightful blend of fantasy and SFa surprising, funny and warmly human adventure of wars, worlds and otherworlds that signals the dazzling emergence of a major new talent in the literary field of the fantastic
One of Diana Wynne Jones''adult' books, but one that will appeal to her fans in general, with its mix of homey appeal, warm humor, fastpaced action and serious themes.The Earth We Know (or at least, an Earth very similar to ours) is secretly watched over by a ring of magical adepts To their dismay, they discover that a neighboring universe has been messing with us causing all sorts of disasters, apparently in the hopes that they'll learn useful knowledge by studying how we deal with each catastrophe.In a desperate move, the adepts cobble together a hasty expedition to try to infiltrate the other universe and foil their nefarious plans but nothing works out quite as expected, on either end. Magic is mostly ideas they're the strongest thing there is! Gladys, X/2The fantasies of Diana Wynne Jones are the epitome of wild magic, as other commentators have previously noted You can guess what 'wild magic' is uncontrolled flights of powerful fancy spiralling off in unexpected directions, or some such willo'thewisp definition and virtually every writing of this much missed author is replete with it A novel entitled A Sudden Wild Magic is naturally going to include rather a lot of it.The novel's premise is easily summarised A neighbouring universe has been harvesting ideas and inventions from our world without our knowledge not such a fantastic notion these days but has also been experimentally interfering with our lives, introducing global warming and epidemics for example to see how we cope with disasters on this scale A UKbased group of magical guardians decide to infiltrate a crack team of female adepts, their mission being to disrupt this covert action conducted by male mages by introducing magical viruses; the novel switches back and forth from Earth to this parallel world as it follows the ups and downs of this team and those monitoring progress Being a Diana Wynne Jones fantasy things are not always as they seem, however.It's almost pointless to outline the intricacies of the plot narrative in a straightforward review: there is so much going on, so many strands, such a varied cast, so many distinctive individuals It's a novel of its time, of course: issues current in the 1990s have assumed different perspectives a quarter of a century later AIDSHIV and global warming, for example and we might baulk at their semihumorous treatment both from a retrospective viewpoint and because they are matters warranting serious consideration But it can be argued that humour used as a means of drawing attention to the misuse of power from issues concerning exploitation and gender to technology used irresponsibly and child abuse deserves its place in fiction.Instead then of discussing the narrative's twists and turns, I want here to indicate some of the ways the author's own wild magic operates, how she takes ideas from here and there and allows them to follow their own courses.The floating citadel or entity that is pirating Earth's intellectual resources is initially called LaputaBlish The reasons for this are many First, it's called Blish because at least one of the protagonists has evidently read James Blish's series of novels called Cities in Flight But it's also called Laputa from Gulliver's Travels, where the flying island freely travels above the greater island of Balnibarbi But there areramifications: the island's name is derived from the Spanish la puta which means prostitute or whore from which DWJ has taken the idea that the team of female adepts will use what she calls 'kamikaze sex' to upset the machinations of the brotherhood of mages.You've now gathered that A Sudden Wild Magic is not a fantasy aimed at her usual audience of younger fans Usually I write [speculative fiction] for children, she wrote in an article,¹ but recently I wrote a novel specifically for adults this was something I had long wanted to do really ever since I discovered that quite as many adults read my books as children do But in penning this fiction, clearly happy to introduce what may have been regarded as slightly risqué humour, she found that she was breaking some unwritten rules about writing fantasy for adults Thankfully she decided to disregard them in this case.There are two strong female leads in these pages The first is Zillah Green, an unmarried mother with a toddler called Marcus She's part of some intricate relationships which it's too complex to relate here (they involve a Mark and a Marceny) Zillah is blessed, or maybe cursed, with that sudden wild magic, a talent that gives her great (if rather unpredictable) power but also causes her to be lost and confused It may be significant that Zillah, a name that first appears in Genesis 4 where she is the mother of Tubal Cain, the first metalworker means 'shadow' in Hebrew: that shadowy aspect may have been what allows Zillah to be constantly overlooked as someone either not present or else insignificant She does, however, have a significant part to play throughout the narrative.The other woman with a key role is Dr Gladys Naismith, a professor emeritus of theology When we first meet her she appears as a dotty old woman with a penchant for cats, living in a cottage in the Herefordshire countryside It soon becomes clear though that she is a powerful adept, and also good at reading people Perhaps her surname is indicative of her abilities, for there is a widespread belief around the world that metalworking is a kind of magic and artificers such as blacksmiths are ipso facto magicians In such ways does Jones match her characters to their personalities and talents.Gladys also leads us to another complex of relationships in the novel: Welsh connections and Arthurian allusions, themes which the author frequently includes in her work Gladys, a form of Gwladys, is related to Welsh gwlad, meaning 'land', 'realm' or 'countryside' perhaps it originally meant a queen or princess, just as gwledig meant 'ruler' This Gladys also shares her name with a Dark Age queen, daughter of the king of what was Breconshire and wife of another king of what was to become Monmouthshire Both of these ancient Welsh polities are contiguous with Herefordshire in England; so what I believe Jones is suggesting is that the fictional Gladys inhabits a kind of noman'sland between two realms what's conventionally called the Welsh Marches making her precisely the sort of person ideally placed to effect communication and movement between both.We can see that there is method in her madness, a kind of labyrinthine logic to Jones' own wild magic In Earth's parallel world, the floating island LaputaBlish is actually called Arth As well as almost having the same letters as Earth, Arth reminds us of the name Arthur, and I'm sure this is no coincidence In Welsh tradition Gwladys is abducted by King Gwynllyw from her father King Brychan, and war between the two rulers is only prevented by the intervention of King Arthur, their overlord In A Sudden Wild Magic the unnamed king of this alternative world attempts to reconcile the ruling mage of Arth with Gladys Naismith While not an exact parallel there are enough similarities to suggest some crossover; while Arth itself is a kind of hybrid of a Celtic monastery and Camelotlike citadel.Elsewhere on this parallel world we encounter a Pentarchy under that king, consisting of Orthe, Frinjen, Trenjen, Corriarden and Leathe Students of British history will remember the concept of the Heptarchy which is how Victorians referred to the seven AngloSaxon kingdoms as existed before the Norman conquest and will see how Jones has adapted it for her purposes I've had fun trying to winkle out the origins of the names of the five kingdoms but I won't bore you with them here, only to suggest that the mythical Greek river Lethe, associated with a goddess, produced forgetfulness and oblivion, a rather apt association for the Leathe of the Pentarchy.(I must add a thought I had after completing this review: this is a Trojan Horse story, is it not? The Celestial Omnibus the Earthbased magicians use to infiltrate the citadel of Arth is no less than an example of Greeks bearing gifts into the heart of the enemy state In addition, the Marceny/Mark/Marcus characters may owe their origin to the Welsh word march which means … horse It makes me wonder whether Marceny’s intended sacrifice of Marcus, Mark's son, was also related to the Trojan War: after all, it was intended that the innocent Iphigenia was to be sacrificed to Artemis so the Greeks could sail to Troy.)Finally, in exploring the imaginative wellsprings of this novel, I want to briefly discuss the varieties of humans on this world There are those who are termed gualdians, slightly feylike people with large eyes who have a propensity for wild magic I've little doubt that Jones derived this term from Welsh gwyllt, which by now you won't be surprised to learn means 'wild' Then there are the centaurs, half horse, half man (and they do seem to all be male in this story) Jones was to bring centaurs back in Deep Secret (1997), a hybrid from classical myth and an introduced species in her otherwise insular worlds C S Lewis, one of her lecturers at Oxford, famously started his first Narnia book with a vision of a faun walking in the snow beside an old fashioned streetlight.² As she wrote of this series, I marvelled and learned from it Maybe centaurs are a nod to Lewis's faun.Now, to the crux of the matter: is this a good story? Because, as she wrote in her essay 'Two Kinds of Writing?', despite the hidden assumptions about writing for adults (as opposed to writing for children), when all is said and done, it is telling a good story, and telling it well, that is the point of both kinds of writing Well, here are my criteria for judging narrative: Am I engaged when I read it? Do I enjoy the way the story is told? And do I identify in some way or sympathise with the main protagonists?Firstly, I admit I'm biased: I am predisposed to be engaged with a Diana Wynne Jones novel because I've enjoyed so many in the past and found them satisfying on so many levels.Now, as to whether I enjoyed the way this particular story is told, I'm not entirely convinced In her essay she writes, as an established children's author, about assuming that writing for adults gave mefreedom, for instance, in the way I could tell the story She could write episodically, for example, or imply that adults could have sex; she could include a lot of guilt, a lot of pleasure and an awful lot of whoopee at some point when enough people relaxed enough She adds that in the story twothirds die, two get badly victimized, one falls into a clinical depression, one gets blackmailed, everyone's judgement goes askew, and one woman runs away and nearly gets her small child killed.I don't have any problems with all this I don't even have a problem with her editor's belief that It's all so nice No, what I find marginally disappointing is the way that, having brought all her main characters through various vicissitudes she does what she often does in her children's fiction and wraps the action up just we've just started investing in them In other words, just when we want to know how they feel, react, plan the rest of their lives or whatever, down comes the curtain It's almost as if she'd lost interest in them, though I'm sure that would never truly be the case.Perhaps I'm expectingthan this novel is offering Quite probably the key to it all (and indicative of the author's basic approach) is the observation by the character Roz (VI/4): It likes fun the citadel, I mean Can't you feel? People keep repressing it, and it's just sort of itching for something to enjoy Fun Enjoyment That's really what this fiction is looking out for If, as Gladys says, magic is ideas, then sudden wild magic puts the fun into those ideas.Finally, did I find the lead roles sympathetic? If I'd read this a few years ago, I perhaps would have identifiedwith Zillah, irresponsible, creative and impulsive as she was Now, somewhat older though not necessarily wiser, I find I sway towards Gladys, an authoritative figure who is good at reading people, cultivates dottiness while being as sharp as a pin when it suits her I sometimes wish I waslike her; at least I have the dottiness.¹ 'Two Kinds of Writing?' (1991), republished in Diana Wynne Jones, Reflections: On the Magic of Writing Greenwillow Books 2012, 3343² 'Reading C S Lewis's Narnia' in Reflections, 4750https://wp.me/s2oNj1sudden This kept me up all last night, I was pretty interested It had its usually charm of DWJ sand her twisty style Overall really interesting though I did feel the the alternate universe was a bit sketchy Wish I'd read it before but I kept leaving it because I listened to reviews Need to stop doing that A curiously flat novel, containing all the classic DWJ ingredients, baked in a hotter oven and not nearly as enjoyable as it could have been.In an essay, DWJ stated that she tried writing an adult novel as an experiment, and that she found the experience frustrating and unpleasant With her children's novels, she never felt limited in what kinds of things she could put in, what kinds of attitudes and motivations to give her characters In an adult novel, the reasons and struggles are so muchlimited, so narrowed by the rational adult focus.I can see how she felt; trying to fit in her usual clever, resourceful, determined people, her indefinable magic styles, her wicked and glimmering motivations, into a dull and straightlaced 'adult' story doesn't work at all The shame of it seems to be that her own definition of adult novels was so narrow In this book, adults have affairs, they fall in love, they run away, they run businesses, they drive cars, they have wives they don't much like It all sounds rather a lot like a child's idea of adulthood.It's odd, because I've always seen Deep Secret as an adult novel (at leastadult than most of her others), and it shares many of the same elements as this book: why did she have no trouble turning that into one of her best books, while this one just flounders?This is definitely not one of her best, though it's by no means a bad book It just feels like a kid dressing up in her mother's clothes: the girl is lovely, funny, smart, but the dress hangs awkwardly, the shoes are far too big, and the makeup looks, frankly, ridiculous (Reread from many years ago, never reviewed) I certainly enjoyed this a lotthan the first (or even second) time that I'd read it I didn't really remember it it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me This time, I foundin it to enjoy I think because I've been reading so much about DWJ and am in the process of working my way through most if not all of her books, I noticedAlso I'm looking for things, like her references to creativity and the way she represents magical power I found it uneven slow to begin and too quickly finished and I found some of her characters somewhat interchangeable, especially the women I still got the feeling that she was slumming to a certain extent in writing to an adult audience, or maybe what she thought an adult audience would like There's a bit of a British pantomime silliness to all the naughty sex But her themes are some of the same themes she explores in other works: misuse of power, unthinking obedience to authority and abusive family or parental relationships It's certainly not among the top rank of her books, but there's something there for the DWJ lover to enjoy.