The Lives of Christopher Chant

Jones, Diana Wynne. The Lives of Christopher Chant (2001 ed.) 329 Pages. Greenwillow Books. $6.95

The Chronicles of Chrestomanci

This is part 2 of the Omnibus edition of The Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume 1, in which we learn about Christopher Chant– the Chrestomanci of Charmed Life. In truth, I enjoy this particular story more than Cat’s– Christopher is mildly less dumb, and his family is annoying in a way I can accept more easily. I hate horrible older sisters (in large part, I think, because I am an older sister.)

Christopher Chant is not a normal boy. His mother and father split up after his father loses the family fortune, dashing his mother’s hopes for a place in Society. Everything is complicated by the fact that both of Christopher’s parents are incredibly talented– his father is a strong Enchanter, his mother is a powerful Sorceress. After expelling Christopher’s father from her home, Christopher’s mother brings in her brother– Ralph Argent– to help set their family to rights. When Christopher meets his Uncle Ralph, he immediately adores his Uncle, and attempts to do anything to please him.

It is soon revealed that Christopher has an innate ability to travel between worlds. In his sleep, he can rise from his bed and leave his sleeping self safely at home as part of him travels. He slowly masters his ability to travel, by exploring and helping his Uncle with some experiments. Eventually, his travels bring him into the temple of Asheth, where he meets the Living Goddess, and acquires Throgmorten*. I could explain Throgmorten, but that might take away a bit of the fun.

If you’ve read the books in publishing order (rather than according to series chronology) then you’ve already had a go at Charmed Life, and you know what becomes of Christopher. I prefer this incarnation of him to the Chrestomanci who turns up in Charmed Life, but it’s always fun to watch characters grow and transform.

In Conclusion:

This story moves fast, and is definitely a page-turner. Things just keep getting more complicated, and I think in a lot of cases, the reader has gone “Ahah!” several pages before Christopher gets the chance. There are also many moments of hilarity, and several of them got me laughing loud enough that I had to explain them to nearby friends. I think this might be my favorite, but I reserve the right to make that judgment until I’ve had time to read them all. This, too, scores a 5/5.


*Throgmorten is perhaps my favorite character in the volume.


Filed under Book Review, Children's Fiction, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Humor, Mystery & Suspense, Young Adult Fiction

6 responses to “The Lives of Christopher Chant

  1. Ha, see, that’s one of the advantages of being the third-oldest of four sisters–I can sympathize with fictional characters who have frustrating older and younger siblings.

    I like Chrestomanci in all his incarnations, but his teenage self in Conrad’s Fate might be my favorite. He’s exactly halfway between this Christopher and the Chrestomanci in the other books.


    • I’m the oldest of five, and I hate sympathizing with older siblings who are supposed to be bad…

      Not that I really liked Gwendolen, but that’s not the point.


  2. Oceanblues

    Any book you rate a 5/5 is one I need to borrow from you!

    Is this series consistently good?


    • I think you would like it for the same reasons I do, but I think we’ll have to find you the non-omnibus version, because the print is too small for you.


  3. I’ve been meaning to re-read this one — I read Charmed Life multiple times as a kid, but somehow didn’t get to The Lives of Christopher Chant ’til adulthood. I remember lots of moments of hilarity with this one, but few specifics.

    And funny about the siblings thing — I’m an only child (basically: I have half-siblings and step-siblings but they’re all older/I didn’t grow up in the same household as any of them), so to me, any frustrating-sibling relationships are interesting in that at-a-distance kind of way.


  4. Pingback: Giveaway winners; and links rounded up, part 2 « Jenny's Books

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