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The Spellcoats (The Dalemark Quartet #3)

3.93  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,537 Ratings  ·  92 Reviews
The story of the mythical land of Dalemark, and the four young people enlisted by the Undying, the mysterious gods of Dalemark, are continued in this third volume of The Dalemark Quartet.
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 1st 2001 by HarperTrophy (first published 1979)
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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
24th out of 39 books — 350 voters
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British Children's Fantasy
3rd out of 57 books — 8 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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katayoun Masoodi
Jan 29, 2016 katayoun Masoodi rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
must say didn't know what to expect and so came in with low expectations for this, so maybe that's the reason, but i really really liked it. i actually thought that this was a right time in the series to have this prehistoric dalemark series. katie and beth thanks for making me read this one before the crown of dalemark, i think this makes the crown more enjoyable.
Melissa McShane
The Spellcoats is one of the first books I ever read by Diana Wynne Jones and is still one of my favorites. With her tenth published novel, she demonstrates a maturity that marks the rest of her career; as good as her previous works are, with The Spellcoats she plays with first person limited POV and the clash of cultures to create Dalemark's history in a way that perfectly fits what she's already established with Cart and Cwidder and the more complex Drowned Ammet.

I didn't realize, back in the
Nov 06, 2015 Kaion rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Spellcoats stands in contrast to the densely plotted and bitingly humorous style I most associate with Diana Wynne Jones (at its most action-y in Dark Lord of Derkholm). It also, for my vote, is the real standout of the Dalemark quartet--paring down from the background politics of the first two books and going back hundreds of years to prehistoric Dalemark results in a smaller, more mythic tale that echoes more loudly for how much more contained it is.

Tanaqui and her siblings have always li
The Spellcoats is the penultimate installment in Diana Wynne Jones’ Dalemark Quartet and it is very different from its predecessors.

If Cart and Cwidder is our introduction to Dalemark, and Drowned Ammet is a fleshing out of that earlier exposure, then The Spellcoats is the (pre) historical volume that gives these two their significance in the grand scheme of things.

Set 600 years in the past, Spellcoats gives us a glimpse at prehistoric Dalemark, a time before the land was divided by North and
Feb 12, 2013 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this might be my favourite of the Dalemark books so far. It felt closer to what I expect from Diana Wynne Jones -- there is darkness, yes, but it doesn't feel the same; there's very little darkness in the protagonists. And we have a female main character who is the narrator! Tanaqui works well: she's not perfect, nor too annoying, but a good balance of characteristics -- unlike Robin, who just looks pale and interesting all the time without depth.

I enjoyed the way this deepened the under
Jul 09, 2008 Catherine rated it really liked it
Jones is just a fun author to read. This is the third in her Dalemark quartet, and I may like it the best of the four so far. It's a fast read and the characters have life. It's told from the perspective of the youngest sister, Tanaqui, who is weaving the story into a coat as she tells it. It develops nicely as she makes discoveries of her own that affect the plot's development. You'll find lots of seemingly little details that become significant, which adds to the adventure of reading.
Maureen E
Oct 20, 2009 Maureen E rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Again with the absolutely astoundingly gorgeous covers. This one is for The Spellcoats really, which makes me a bit sad. I want this style for all four!

Anyway. If the jump between Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet is disconcerting, the jump to The Spellcoats is even more so. Mitt and Moril might be only distantly aware of each other, but they are clearly in the same time. Tanaqui's story clearly is not. In fact, it's set in a sort of prehistoric Dalemark. Also, unlike the first two, it's in fi
Aug 04, 2010 Punk rated it liked it
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
YA Fantasy. SIX HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER, Tanaqui and her four siblings are forced out of their home and up the River, urged north to the sea by their older brother, Gull, who has been cursed by a powerful wizard.

Book three takes place in prehistoric Dalemark, a time when the land was a different shape and the divide between North and South didn't exist OR DID IT? Tanaqui's people are at war with fair-haired invaders, and after their father dies in battle, the children have no one to protect them w
Aug 19, 2015 Mariah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
By far my favorite of the Dalemark Quartet (so far)!
Tanaqui was a fantastic narrator, and I liked how truly..... unlikable... her and her siblings were. (...maybe unlikable is not the right word... what I mean to say is, as they got annoyed with each other, I got annoyed at and with them, which happened QUITE A BIT, so while clearly I was emotionally invested, it did not make a large section of the book very fun to read)
HOWEVER the manner in which the story was presented (as a recovered histor
Rebecca Saxon
Mar 30, 2015 Rebecca Saxon rated it liked it
Even though you don't need to have read the previous two books in the quartet, I suspect I would have enjoyed the story a lot more if I had. I suspect I might have felt more invested in the world. That being said this is still a good book. This is a pre-history of Dalemark and follows Tanaqui as she weaves the story of her, her siblings, the river, the Undying (mystical god-like powers), and an evil force. I appreciated the plainness of the storytelling - it actually feels like a child is recoun ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Mar 08, 2016 Shawn Thrasher rated it really liked it
DWJ has created, from whole cloth, this political world of Dalemark; in The Spellcoats she takes us back in time to its legends and mythology. One of the themes is when legends were little kids, what were they like? Some books have explored this before - The Sword in the Stone comes to mind. But DWJ's legendary children certainly act like real siblings, down to the pouting, teasing, bickering, and occasional fist fights that sisters and brothers get into. Overall, the tone of The Spellcoats is q ...more
Jan 21, 2009 Laura rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
The Spellcoats has a very different tone as compared to the first two books in the series. According to the map at the beginning, this is prehistoric Dalemark, before earls and North vs. South and even before the gods and stories as they are known in Mitt and Moril's time. The tone takes a little getting used to, but Tanaqui is a fascinating and vivid narrator. It was fun to wrap my head around the idea of her weaving the story into a coat.

In this volume, we visit the place where the stories in
May 03, 2013 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dwj
A young girl, who has little idea that she has a talent for weaving magical spells into garments, has to abandon home along with her orphan siblings when they are all suspected of colluding with invaders with whom they happen to share physical characteristics. Thus begins a journey downriver to the sea and then back again up to its source before the causes of the conflict can start to be addressed.

The Spellcoats has a markedly different feel compared to the middle two Dalemark tales (http://wp.m
Maria Elmvang
Review in English below.

På trods af at De magiske kapper er tredje bog i en serie, kan man sagtens læse den uden at have kendskab til serien. Det gjorde jeg, og det første lange stykke tid, troede jeg næsten der var sket en fejl i navngivningen, fordi handlingen på ingen måde afslørede at der skulle have været to bøger før den.

Det viste sig dog at have sin gode forklaring. Kronologisk er De magiske kapper den tredje bog i Dalmark-kvartetten, men handlingsmæssigt beskriver den begivenheder der fo
May 28, 2011 Vasha7 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this recently -- I always hesitate to revisit favorite authors from my youth, but this didn't let me down. To be sure, the plot is both elementary in fantasy terms and standard for Jones (it seems like almost every single one of her early books involved the main character discovering the hidden magical talents they were born with), but it's really well told. The four main characters (Tanaqui and her siblings Hern, Duck, and Robin) all have distinct personalities, they interact with each o ...more
Feb 25, 2011 Hirondelle rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
A really odd novel by Diana Wynne Jones - and my appreciation of it is surely not helped by the fact it has been years since I read the first two books. It is an archaic mythic sort of YA fantasy, and it stands on its own almost, apart from the ending where resolution is projected to the final book in the quartet. It reminded me a bit of Red Shift, though less cryptic and less despairing. But it is odd indeed. And I did not like Spellcoats nor respect it much. The almost trademarked mythic plot ...more
Oct 27, 2007 Sabrina rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: imaginitive, well-read pre-teens; early-mid teens
Shelves: for_children
For that post-Harry, pre-something heavy and involved time.

Recommended to me by my genetics prof (who saw me finishing a Harry Potter book one day on campus). The Dalemark Quartet is more advanced reading than the Harry Potter books, but the same type of fanstasy and contains a long and interwoven story line that fully comes together in The Crown of Dalemark. Characters and items in each previous book play a main role in this last installment so the quartet must be read in order and close togeth
Ruth Dahl
Dec 30, 2015 Ruth Dahl rated it liked it
Started slowly, and seemed a little out there for Diana, because of the religiosity of "The Ones" but at the midway point her humour really started showing through.
Can't wait to read the rest of the Dalemark Quartet
Sadie Slater
Apr 13, 2016 Sadie Slater rated it it was amazing

Reading: The Spellcoats and The Crown of Dalemark
Apr. 13th, 2016 07:05 pm
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[personal profile] white_hart
When I read Diana Wynne Jones's Dalemark books in the mid-80s, there were only three of them, and I didn't really get a lot of things in them as they were a lot more complicated than most of her other books which I was reading at the time. So when I found the fourth book (published in 1993, after I had gone to university and stopped looking in the children's sections of book
Mar 07, 2014 Lightreads rated it liked it
Six hundred years earlier in pre-historic Dalemark, a group of children are outcast because they look like the invaders, and they set off down the river at the call of an evil wizard.

I'm starting to suspect that I don't get this series. It doesn't help that I didn't pay quite enough attention to follow along with who all the gods are in relation to whom, though to be fair, they each seem to have five names minimum and they are all each other's grandfather. I thought vaguely that this book is doi
Mar 17, 2011 Becky rated it liked it
This was an enjoyable read and did fun, trippy things with narrative. But I think I would have to reread the book after first rereading the first two Dalemark books to feel satisfied that I understood the plot.

I enjoy that this book is so grounded in its imagined world; the landscape, ecology, and culture feel absolutely authentic. DWJ doesn't write very much set in secondary worlds, but when she does set a book in one, she does it right!
Mar 02, 2016 travelgirlut rated it liked it
I love the premise in this book, that stories and spells can be woven into fabric, and the first half of the book had me fairly deeply drawn in. But when we get to the second half, it really lost me. The main character makes all sorts of intuitive leaps of understanding that I don't feel were ever adequately explained. Then throw in all the Undying that keep popping up and they each have a gillion different names and I got lost. Really lost. I kept reading hoping that something would sum everyth ...more
Mar 30, 2011 Mely rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
When I first read this as a kid, I thought it was terribly dull. I was wrong.
This is such a good story! I think the first was OK, the second much better and this one the best so far of the series. I did get annoyed again at the ending because it cut off suddenly for me but the final note tied it all together, especially as a legend or historical point for the first two stories.

The story is of prehistoric Dalemark and is narrated by a girl Tanaqui who weaves the story on a rugcoat. She and her father Closti, brothers Gull, Hern, Duck and sister Robin live a fairly happy
Althea Ann
Sep 28, 2013 Althea Ann rated it really liked it
At first, this story seems to have little relationship to the two before it. It's not till the very end that it's revealed that it takes place in Dalemark – but during near-prehistoric times. The society portrayed is very primitive, perhaps analogous to Bronze Age tribes in Britain. When most of the men of a village go off to fight a war against some blond invaders, the pale, fair looks passed down to one family's children by their mysterious, foreign(?) mother make them a target of fear and sup ...more
Sep 01, 2009 Patrick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
Surprisingly good after a slow beginning. This just feels like the 70's. If you like the Dark is Rising series or the Prydain series or the Westmark series, you will probably appreciate this too, though it is not as good as The Dark is Rising. It is a slower-paced story and the plot is driven as much by the character of the protagonists as their abilities and outside conflicts.

The exposition builds character and features some action, but you are as confused and sometimes bored as the characters
Julie Davis
Nov 23, 2011 Julie Davis rated it it was ok
The third book in the Dalemark quartet. Again this is in altogether different a style than the first two. Tanaqui is the youngest of a family that has lost their parents and that is different enough that they are forced to flee or be murdered by their community, who blame them for all the misfortune that has befallen them. When the River floods, they take to a small boat to escape.

The reader's perspective is that of Tanaqui's and her imperfect understanding of events, even of their own identity
Nov 05, 2012 Lucy rated it it was amazing
What appealed to me most about this book was the mythic/origin story aspect, the same thing which always made ancient history appealing to me.

Where do all these beliefs/myths/words/traditions/religions/people come from? The idea that the struggles of people so long ago have had a large impact on making the world the way it is today is appealing. Maybe this is also why people like genealogy, though I am personally not interested in it.

The Ancient Overt(ish) Magic which is now not so Overt/Dying i
Abby Jones
Apr 08, 2015 Abby Jones rated it really liked it
Jones has an amazing way of catching you off guard. Events at the beginning of the story which seem totally unimportant and part of the landscape become paramount moments of fate by the end of the book. Despite this being a classic move by Jones, it surprises me every time which speaks to her great ability as a writer. She also does a marvelous job capturing the growth of children and creating a pleasing mythology for get fantasy stories. I recommend all of her books including this one.
Jun 02, 2013 Claire rated it really liked it
I didn't care for this one when I first read it (like, 10+ years ago, so that I was 12 at the time might be part of it), but oh my god, could not put it down this time. The amount of detail and actual thought DWJ put into this is so impressive to me. She even got down to linguistics (and oh boy, did the "Tan=younger" part give me Last-20-Pages-Of-Crown Flashbacks)! And she makes it seem so effortless and un-showy.

Re-reading this was such a joy, especially how it connected to the others, especia
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South African Boo...: The Spellcoats (Dalemark Quartet #3) by Diana Wynne Jones 33 7 Mar 12, 2012 12:52AM  
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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
More about Diana Wynne Jones...

Other Books in the Series

The Dalemark Quartet (4 books)
  • Cart and Cwidder (The Dalemark Quartet, #1)
  • Drowned Ammet (The Dalemark Quartet, #2)
  • The Crown of Dalemark (The Dalemark Quartet, #4)

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