Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Cart and Cwidder (The Dalemark Quartet, #1)” as Want to Read:
Cart and Cwidder (The Dalemark Quartet, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Cart and Cwidder (The Dalemark Quartet #1)

3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,894 Ratings  ·  165 Reviews
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 o ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by HarperTrophy (first published 1975)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Cart and Cwidder, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Cart and Cwidder

Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne JonesCharmed Life by Diana Wynne JonesThe Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne JonesCastle in the Air by Diana Wynne JonesHouse of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones
Favourite Diana Wynne Jones
22nd out of 39 books — 351 voters
The Dark Is Rising by Susan CooperDragonsong by Anne McCaffreyWatership Down by Richard AdamsMrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'BrienTuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
Children's Fantasy of the 1970s
19th out of 131 books — 25 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details

This is the first installment in Diana Wynne Jones’ epic Dalemark Quartet. I first read this series when I was 13 or 14 (which is the intended age group), and I remember being so swept up in these books, they remained in my “favorites of all-time” for many years afterward and began my lifelong love of epic, multi-volume fantasy. Of course, revisiting something you LOVED when you were in middle school is always a gamble. So, the real question is: did it hold up?


And no.

Cart and Cwidd
Arielle Walker
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 heard vague things about the Dalemark Quartet for a long time ( 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 ...more
Jul 02, 2009 Wealhtheow rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ya
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 ...more
Melissa McShane
Mar 19, 2012 Melissa McShane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, fantasy, young-adult
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 also more serious than the previous ones. The Dal
Mar 19, 2014 Andree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
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) ...more
Althea Ann
Sep 25, 2013 Althea Ann rated it liked it
Originally published in 1975. I really wish I had read this short novel as a kid. I still enjoyed reading it now, but I think it would have been one of my favorite books if I had read it at a younger age.
Although a YA novel, with a fun and fast-moving, adventurous tone, this book doesn't shy away from ‘heavier' emotional issues and political situations.
The feudal land of Dalemark is divided, and the South is extremely politically repressive. But people depend on traveling minstrels for not only
Jan 15, 2016 Margaret rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
After hearing about the genius of Diana Wynne Jones more times 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.
combustible reviews
Mar 30, 2016 combustible reviews rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Review can also be found on

This 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
Harold Ogle
Aug 28, 2013 Harold Ogle rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, magic, bard
Another fun book with a completely different take on magic from Diana Wynne Jones, Cart and Cwidder tells about a family of singers who use their unique status as entertainers to cross back and forth between two nations/regions which are in a cold war and otherwise have no traffic with each other. Like many of Jones' stories, this is also a coming-of-age story, in that the main protagonist, Moril, is eleven years old, and he comes to realize both his passion and his identity over the course of t ...more
Kate Forsyth
Jun 09, 2014 Kate Forsyth rated it it was amazing
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.
Ryan Mishap
Mar 27, 2011 Ryan Mishap rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A re-post, now that Jones has died (March 26, 2011). Thank you, Diana, for all these wonderful stories.

If you haven't read Diana, starting here would not lead you wrong.

In a series of baronies controlled by tyrannical leaders, a group of traveling musicians drift from town to town doing plays, puppets, and songs. The son of the group, who, like the rest of the family, misses his father, is about to be set on a journey that will challenge the power of the rulers, intersect with the lives of othe
Shawn Thrasher
Feb 18, 2016 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it
What makes Diana Wynne Jones so great? She doesn't have to spell out every last thing. She plants clue and connections throughout her plots, or often what characters are thinking or saying or feeling, that allows the reader to infer important aspects of the plot, or the setting, or the character's motivations. To be completely blunt, and rather snobbish, she's not a writer for dumb readers. That makes her book that most wonderful and glorious of things, immanently re-readable. Every time you re- ...more
Apr 16, 2016 Claire rated it liked it
Decided to start a reread of the series - Cart and Cwidder is a weird one for me because it's the first book in the series, and it's the beginning of so many characters (and not just Moril and Kialan. Like, I forgot the number of people who show up in this who become important later, like Keril, obviously everything with Hadd and Henda for the next book, and Hestefan). But it's also one of the very few DWJ books where the world-building outweighs the plot. The world-building itself feels effortl ...more
#5 - a book by an author you love

For years, Diana Wynne Jones has been one of my top three favorite authors, right up there with JK Rowling. At her best, in books like The Dark Lord of Derkholm or Howl's Moving Castle, Jones' writing was captivating and she showed off a dry sense of humor all too hard to find in fantasy novels. Cart and Cwidder unfortunately doesn't meet the very high standards that I've come to expect from Jones, feeling overall drier than her other novels that benefited from f
I nearly had an intense debate with myself about whether this was a four or five star book for me, but I decided not to discourage myself from reviewing it with that dilemma. (Although,it does seem that intense debate is going on slowly will-I-nil-I underneath my current thoughts). My complaint about Cart and Cwidder is the same complaint I always have about Diana Wynne Jones's books. Serious things happen yet they don't seem to be taken seriously. This isn't quite the best description for the p ...more
Jul 23, 2014 Marci rated it really liked it
Shelves: good-fantasy
Confession: This book wins the award for the book I have reread the largest number of times for reasons other than absolutely loving the book. I have brought Cart and Cwidder with me to camp as a bit of light reading a number of times with the intention of reading the entire Dalemark Quartet and have consequently read it at least four times. I have additionally started and failed to finish Drowned Ammet about the same number of times, for no real reason other than sudden disappearance of motivat ...more
A deceptively simple fantasy about the children of an itinerant singer discovering, after his murder, that they are harboring a political fugitive.

I liked this. It's straightforward and old-fashioned, but with that DWJ way of passing lightly but complexly upon death and power and growing up and living in your own truth. This is one of those books where the magic isn't awoken by feel, it's awoken by thinking very hard and speaking truth to yourself.

And like a lot of DWJ books, it kept me engaged
Saoirse Adams-Kushin
Sep 09, 2015 Saoirse Adams-Kushin rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-mid-fantasy
I definitely read this years ago but remembered nothing about it except a reveal that happens about halfway through. I remember not liking the Dalemark books as much as DWJ's other work, and I think that's because this is all set in one secondary world and I feel she's at her best when juggling multiverses. Because basically all the major characters are musicians, there are some interesting ruminations on the political power of art (here sometimes literalised as magic power). The worldbuilding i ...more
Gary Butler
Aug 31, 2013 Gary Butler rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
39th book read in 2013.

Number 282 out of 329 on my all time book list.

Follow the link below to see my video review:
Oct 11, 2008 Lori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been quite a while since I read this, but it seems as good a place as any to say that I consistently enjoy Diana Wynne Jones' books. I can't remember one I didn't like.
Mar 28, 2016 Shalla rated it really liked it
i enjoyed this book
the characters pass through complicated levels of experience with each turn of the page

the thought process developed in Moril was quite impressive
making me wonder what dreams the author went through to bring this character to life

the over all story feels a bit rushed, too much trying to fit a small space between the cover but that being said it really is a great book

depending on the young reader, this could really make a great bit of fantasy for a rainy day..
i know my younger
Jackie Deleon
May 21, 2015 Jackie Deleon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wasn't sure whether to give 4 or 5 stars (this rating system is so difficult) because while I enjoyed all of it, it was so quick! Oh, children's publishers of old and their restrictive page counts!

Diana Wynne Jones is one of the greatest plotmasters I've ever read. Just hands down. I like to think I'm a crazy voracious reader and I know with a measure of confidence where a novel's plot is bound. Never so with DWJ novels! And it's not that her plots are all outrageous twists; what's great about
Jan 21, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Diana Wynne Jones has written so few actual series that maybe I had gotten the impression that series were not her strongest writing. This is emphatically untrue. Cart and Cwidder is an extremely short book, but its pages are crammed with a delicious beginning to a well-crafted quartet with hidden and not-so-hidden depths.

Cart and Cwidder starts in the middle of the story, which is not immediately apparent. (This review has to be from my current perspective of having read the books several times
Aug 20, 2010 Kaion rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: series
I remembered loving Cart and Cwidder when I was a kid and basically new to Diana Wynne Jones. So was afraid it wouldn't really stand up to adult levels of scrutiny... or worse, I'd become one of those adults she talks about who need everything explained twice!

I still don't know which better explains my lukewarm reaction on my reread. I can only state my general complaint is its unformed-ness, perhaps attributable to the fact that the first three books of the Dalemark Quartet were completely earl
Mar 31, 2012 Dee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Why I picked it up: Any Diana WJ book is worth reading :)

Why I finished it: While the ending was a bit predictable, the story itself was so entertaining! Enough happened that I was keen to see what the next twist would be.

The story:

A family-run travelling troupe of musicians and performers begin their annual route through various towns across a war-torn country. The North vs. South war has gone on for years, making this family one of the few that cross the border, carrying the odd passenger or m
Julie Davis
Nov 20, 2011 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Diana Wynne Jones. Lent by my friend who got me turned onto this author ... she warned me that the "feel" of these books is very different from her other books. Which is something interesting to say because I never have read an author who can change tones and feels from book to book so easily.

Just begun, following a family of traveling balladeers who are going from the South to the North in a land split, not exactly by civil war, but definitely by civil aggression between two philosophies of gov
Chronologically, Cart and Cwidder is the third book in the Dalemark Quartlet, but it doesn’t really matter in which order you read the first three books Cart and Cwidder, Drowned Ammet and The Spellcoats as long as you read The Crown of Dalemark last.

After Moril’s father is viciously murdered by the Earl of South Dales, he and his older brother Dagner and younger sister Brid must flee to the north and deliver their mysterious passenger Kialan. To make it to safety, Moril must unlock the power of
Ана Хелс
Mar 16, 2013 Ана Хелс rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
„Фургон и лютня“ пък дава старт на друг от тъмните светове на Джоунс, където светлината в края на тунела е по-слаба и от тази на лоена вощеница от ранното възрожденско начало на поробените народища. Светът е средновековно разделен и потънал в своите най-тъмни години, условно разделен на север и юг, пропити с омраза и ненавист към всичко различно, дори без спомен за конкретния повод, вдъхновил поредното човешко разцепление на страстите. През сивотата на дребните дрязги на ежедневието, в несправед ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Please add cover 3 14 Jun 08, 2016 06:07AM  
  • The Mislaid Magician: or Ten Years After (Cecelia and Kate, #3)
  • The Whim of the Dragon (The Secret Country, #3)
  • Bridle the Wind (Felix Brooke, #2)
  • The Hounds of the Mórrígan
  • Wren to the Rescue (Wren, #1)
  • A College of Magics (A College of Magics, #1)
  • Kekkaishi, Vol. 15 (Kekkaishi, #15)
  • Song Quest (The Echorium Sequence, #1)
  • The Dragonslayers Apprentice
  • Firebirds Rising: An Anthology of Original Science Fiction and Fantasy
  • The Foundling and Other Tales of Prydain
  • The Tricksters
  • The Lion Hunter (The Lion Hunters, #4)
  • Les ailes du destin (Les 12 Royaumes, #5)
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
More about Diana Wynne Jones...

Other Books in the Series

The Dalemark Quartet (4 books)
  • Drowned Ammet (The Dalemark Quartet, #2)
  • The Spellcoats (The Dalemark Quartet, #3)
  • The Crown of Dalemark (The Dalemark Quartet, #4)

Share This Book