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A Sudden Wild Magic

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  1,253 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
Our world has long been protected by “The Ring”—a benevolent secret society of witches and conjurers dedicated to the continuance and well-being of humankind.

Now, in the face of impending climatic disaster, the Ring has uncovered a conspiracy potentially more destructive than any it has ever had to contend with. For eons, the mages of a neighboring universe have been looti
Hardcover, 412 pages
Published October 1st 1992 by William Morrow & Company (first published 1992)
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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' respon
Debbie Gascoyne
I certainly enjoyed this a lot more than 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 found more in 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 noticed more. Also I'm looking for things, like her references to creativity and the way she represents magical power. I found it uneven - slow to begin ...more
Dec 28, 2014 Ashley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 r ...more
Jan 26, 2016 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Gosh, I've never had such mixed feelings about a book. Parts of it I hated, parts of it made me laugh out loud, and of course I got swept away by the usual whirlwind Diana Wynne Jones ending. But did I like it?

(Cut for mild spoilers/discussion of plot)

(view spoiler)
Jun 13, 2016 Leah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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 much mor
Emily Collins
Sep 17, 2013 Emily Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: british
As far as I can tell, this is the one adult novel that I have ever found written by Diana Wynne Jones. It was a bit hard to get used to an author who normally puts only the most subtle of love lines in a story to have a book that seems pretty blatantly based around who is sleeping or has slept with whom, and the effect that that has had (it's not the main plot point by any means, but from Diana any mention of this is weird). I was extremely thankful for the fact that she left out any actual sex ...more
Mar 25, 2009 Maggie rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The book started with a very intriguing plot in which an organization of magic users realized that another planet/universe instigated certain events like world war II and global warming to watch how Earth's advancements and inventions will deal with these problems. However, after about halfway, the book got very tedious to read and I was tempted to just put it down: There was a lot of perspective switching and many subplots revolving around character interactions that were only superficially tou ...more
Oct 23, 2014 C. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-or-access, 2013, 2014
I did really enjoy this - it had more interesting magic and worlds than DWJ usually does, though possibly this was just because I didn't know the plot already.

The main difference to her children's books, however, seemed to be that the characters were more morally ambiguous - typically for DWJ, I can't decide whether this was badly done or not.
My last unread DWJ... :(

This feels odd, though. I'm not sure she really mastered the switch from children's to adult books. But
Mar 12, 2008 Katharine rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Much as I adore Diana Wynne Jones's writing, every now and then I find one of hers that just makes me go "meh". A Sudden Wild Magic is one of them. It has many of the same themes as my all time favorites of hers including Fire and Hemlock and Hexwood: strong women, men who need to be saved from evil, and great minor characters. But unlike the characters in F&H and Hexwood, I found this hero and heroine not very engaging. It's not that they were unlikeable (well, one of them was borderline) s ...more
Feb 24, 2010 Monique rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yuk
Full of DWJs usual excellent creativity and characterizations, but the heroines of the story win by sleeping with the enemy. Not by being strong or clever or lucky or determined or kind. But through sex. Go prostitution! Ugh. Not an inspirational look into the mind of the author. If this had been my first read of her books, I'd never have read another. It does make me want to go back and examine the heroines in her other stories. Are they all rescued? Howl's Moving Castle? Yes, she's rescued. Ac ...more
Dec 13, 2007 Ann rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite children's fantasy writers. This is one of her few books aimed at an adult audience and is just plain fun. It's not perfect, but if you want a fast-paced fantasy about witches, warlocks, alternate worlds, and environmental issues "with a little sex in it" (as the producers in Sullivan's Travels said) this is your book!
Feb 06, 2010 Telyn rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A misfire by the usually charming Diana Wynne Jones. I found the plot bewildering—it involves a diabolical plan by magic users in another dimension to use global warming to disrupt Earth, also witches, numerous cats and an alien monkey—and the characters, for the most part, unappealing.
Jan 04, 2017 Claire rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't sold on the middle third or so of the novel, but the end was classic Diana Wynne Jones, the way she brought all of the threads together in ways where she reveals threads you hadn't even known were there (and since that's what I love most about her, it mostly made up for the boring middle third). Plus the blurb on the back of the book is pretty funny.
A well-written book. It didn't quite draw me in as well as "Deep Secret" or other of Jones's books, but there was some great world-building going on in here. And the Ultimate Conga Line made the whole book worth it :)
Simon Mcleish
Originally posted on my blog here in September 2000.

A Sudden Wild Magic hovers uneasily between the child and adult book markets; it is basically a child oriented plot to which sex scenes have been added.

The fundamental idea is that it is a magical cabal who have protected Great Britain throughout history - a convenient hurricane destroying the Armada here, Hitler deciding to invade Russia rather than Kent there - but with a twist: most of the world's crises have been magical in origin, set in m
Jan 21, 2009 Gayle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diana Wynne Jones is a prolific writer of children's fantasy, most notably Howl's Moving Castle. She has also written a few books targeting the adult reader, and A Sudden Wild Magic is one of this select group.

In this book, the most powerful magid in England, Mark Lister, detects an alien influence on Earth events, and is forced to work within a very tight circle to deal with it. Maureen the dancer, beautiful Amanda, and eccentric Gladys are the wielders of magic that he turns to, but it is Aman
Kate  K. F.
A Sudden Wild Magic is a book that tries to tackle a lot of rather large issues and doesn't succeed at dealing with all of them. This also makes it rather difficult to know who to recommend it to because the issues that are raised are quite complicated. At the start of the book, we meet Mark and Gladys who are part of a magical group called The Ring who are in charge of all the magic on Earth. They have recently discovered that another world has been manipulating physical things on Earth so that ...more
Julie Davis
Yet another from my new favorite author which was lent by the same kind friend who has been supplying me with literary "crack."
Our world has long been protected by "The Ring" - a benevolent secret society of witches and conjurers dedicated to the continuance and well-being of humankind. Now, in the face of impending climatic disaster, the Ring has uncovered a conspiracy potentially more destructive than any it has ever had to contend with. For eons, the mages of a neighboring universe have been
Oct 08, 2013 Jillian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In ASWM, Earth is quietly managed and kept safe by the Ring–a secret collection of mages and witches–but everyone in England, possibly the entire universe, is at risk. A young mage makes a discovery: Earth’s alternate universe has not only been spying on but subtly sabotaging this one. The only course of action seems to be a preemptive attack, and a small task force is shipped off in a game of kill-or-be-killed. As they learn more about this foreign landscape, though, the members of the task for ...more
Diana Wynne Jones remains one of my favorite authors, even though I think I'm about 20 years older than her usual target demographic. However, this book struck me as geared to an older audience (more romance and complicated relationships & emotions than some of her other books, in addition to at least one graphically grotesque bit), and while I'd congratulate her for trying to push her artistic boundaries, A Sudden Wild Magic ended up not one being of her best books.

The plotline is pretty r
Aug 28, 2012 Dlora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very creative story mixing fantasy and witchcraft and science fiction. It posits alternate universes, some with people very similar to humans. One in particular has been spying on earth to steal their advances in science and magic. In fact, they have begun to cause wars and catastrophes to see what earth invents to solve the problems. The newest plan is to see how earth handles global warming and the melting of the ice caps. However, the Mages in England finally figure out what is going on and ...more
Jan 07, 2008 Celia rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, re-read
(January is the month of Diana Wynne Jones re-reading - yay!) This probably isn't one of DWJ's great books, but I like it nonetheless - it has a sort of cozy feeling, and it's one I enjoy re-reading. It's one of her few books for adults - the Ring, a circle of important witches wizards, have realised that a parallel universe is stealing magical and scientific knowledge from Earth, and creating disasters in order to generate more ideas. The Ring sets out to stop them, setting a group of witches a ...more
May 30, 2015 Rebecca rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Diana Wynne Jones has long been a favorite author of mine and I am working my way through her complete bibliography. I don't think this will turn out to be one of my favorites by her but it was still enjoyable nonetheless. Although at first it feels very similar to in setup to the Deep Secret/Merlin Conspiracy universe, by the end it has developed into quite its own, interesting world, with the fascinating quirks of development that only Diana can make. This book takes a while to get into. I fou ...more
Althea Ann
Jan 03, 2013 Althea Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Diana Wynne Jones' more 'adult' books, but one that will appeal to her fans in general, with its mix of homey appeal, warm humor, fast-paced 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 ea
Angela Tuson
Although ALL DWJ's books are good, and enjoyable, I always seem to enjoy her adult books in an alloyed way (except for Fire & hemlock which is exceptional). Perhaps it's the 'cast of thousands', or the dithering soppy young female leads, or perhaps it's because her child characters are generally so much more appealing than the adult ones. (Note the 'generally'. She has written som wonderful adults - there is one in this book, Gladys). I liked the plot in 'Sudden Wild Magic' although it all s ...more
Jul 21, 2012 martha rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2005
Weirdly enough, this seems to be a sequel to Deep Secret (or is at least written in the same universe), but nothing on my copy indicated that at all -- it was only when some familiar characters wandered through that I realized.

[2005 review.] Good title, terrible book. The YA room was closed at the library and this was one of the two DWJ books in the adult scifi section -- the back cover included the phrase "kamikaze sex," so a bit of a departure for her. Unfortunately it's a very confusing mess
Apr 20, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What if the things that happen seemingly by chance in our world are actually on purpose? Global warming has a cause. The onset of AIDs had a reason. And even the World Wars weren't for the reason we think. The reason for all of them? Aliens.

Residents of another universe have problems too, and they've found a way to solve them–give us the same problems, and then steal our inventions to deal with them. But when the magic-users of Earth find out, they are not happy.

Problem:aliens destroying our wor
Jun 28, 2014 Jaimie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 24, 2011 Jen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, teenage
Another enjoyable book from Diana Wynne Jones. Again, the Earth is threatened by another universe, which is causing problems for the Earth to solve so that inventions and ideas can be stolen. A group of witches band together to send some of their number to the other universe to cause chaos. Zillah, and her son Marcus, who both exhibit untrained wild magic are stowaways on the ship, which crashes and is rescued by an order of monk like mages. They are their companions upset the natural rhythms of ...more
Carly O'Connell
Not the same high quality of writing I was expecting after reading Howl's Moving Castle. The world was a little too complicated; it took me a few chapters to wrap my head around it.
Also, I didn't know what to make of the depiction of women in this work. The human women sabotage the other world through sex (but also cooking and dance instruction). There is a country run by women but they are the bad guys with a bitchy mother for a leader and a habit of using males as a certain alien race as stud
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Diana Wynne Jones was the author of more than thirty critically acclaimed fantasy stories, including the Chrestomanci series and the novels Howl's Moving Castle and Dark Lord of Derkholm.

For Diana Wynne Jones's official autobiography, please see
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