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The Lives of Christopher Chant

(Chrestomanci #2)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  20,642 ratings  ·  598 reviews
His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize t ...more
Published (first published 1988)
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Omer Dassa Some details that here are major parts of the premise were only revealed in the end of charmed life. So if you intend to read both it's better to star…moreSome details that here are major parts of the premise were only revealed in the end of charmed life. So if you intend to read both it's better to start with #1. The plot and characters are sperate though.(less)

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mark monday
this prequel to Charmed Life gives the mysterious and urbane Chrestomanci (multi-dimensional policeman of all things magical) his own backstory. this was a wonderful kid's novel, swiftly-paced and enjoyable from beginning to end.

i loved the connectivity between this book and its predecessor, seeing the basic similarities and differences between Cat and Christopher, their similar reactions to their current Chrestomanci and Chrestomanci Castle, their different ways of not being magical, their simi
Spencer Orey
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked this better than Charmed Life, even though it’s a prequel. Fun stuff.

There were some cliche trappings that shouldn’t have worked (rich neglected kid who is somehow nice and who finds out he’s super duper magical but finds a way to be even nicer). And the whole nine lives and multiverse idea doesn’t make sense at all, but all that was somehow okay because this was such fun to read! I’m curious to see where the series goes from here.

There’s also a pretty deep idea here about the disconnect
Rachel (Kalanadi)
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: middle-grade
Wonderful like I remembered. I love putting all the pieces together. The ending with the people of Eleven wasn't the best, sadly. I think the 'noble savage people' idea is showing its age.
Arielle Walker
I don't think I'll ever get over how fantastic this series is.
Cat M
Reread for the umpteenth millionth time.

The Lives of Christopher Chant wasn't my first DWJ, or even my first Chrestomanci book, that was Charmed Life, which I acquired at about 8 and read until it was falling apart.

This one I had to get from the library for years before picking up my own copy, so I didn't read it as many times as a kid, but over time it's become my absolute favourite of the series. I love that, not to put too fine a point on it, Christopher is a complete asshole for quite a lot
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't know how to accurately describe my love for this book. Every time I read it I feel more strongly (and I think on average, I read it about twice a year, so I feel very strongly about it indeed!) Never-mind that it's a "children's book" (whatever that means). It's beautiful, it's timeless, it's rich and it's subtle. I adore it.

I first read it when I was about ten. This and "Witch Week" were in the two little bookshelves at the back of my fifth-grade classroom, and as you do when you're a t
Melissa McShane
This is my favorite of the Chrestomanci books, and to my surprise I had completely forgotten the final confrontation. I guess it's been a while.

The Lives of Christopher Chant lacks the strong through-line of Charmed Life, which is maybe why the latter is more generally popular, but I enjoy the development of Christopher as a character and the exploration of the Related Worlds. There's also some of DWJ's trademark subtle horror, such as (view spoiler)
Jun 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite of the Chrestomanci Quartet by leaps and bounds. Jones' pacing is impeccable, and there is never a dull moment. While her ability to spin everything together in endings is a bit lackluster in some of the other books -- Magicians of Caprona and Charmed Life being the worst offenders -- here we have a wonderful buildup to a very fulfilling climax. Her characters are vivacious and likable (even when they are doing unlikeable things), her wit is as sharp as ever, the magic is bri ...more
Dec 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another 5 stars for this re-read.

Every re-read of a DWJ book seems to bring something new or at least emphasises in capital letters something I've long felt about her as a writer. After my recent re-read of Charmed Life, this book again strongly reminded me how DWJ's villains are villains not because they are cartoonishly Evil but because they knowingly and callously use people and fail to value people simply as people. It also hit me how different and more vivid DWJ's children's and YA books (a
Nov 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of the three Chrestomanci books I've read so far, this was easily my favorite. I've enjoyed DWJ's style from day one, but this is where everything came together for me and I developed really strong feelings about plot and relationships. I love how DWJ just goes for it in terms of frankly messed up subject matter but still keeps things brisk and funny. She does a great job of putting us in the tight POV of Christopher as a very young child as well as when he gets older, so that we share much of h ...more
Fun and easy to read. Pretty sure I didn't read this, the first time, so, hm. Maybe I only read the first book, when I was younger. In any case, it's best to read this after Charmed Life, otherwise it would give the game away with some of what happens in Charmed Life.

Christopher Chant isn't the pleasantest kid to read about, if you're reading in an aware sort of way and you know some things about the world -- e.g. dragon blood -- but at the same time, you get sucked into what he's doing. And it'
Carolyn Klassen
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, 2014
This is a fun one, though probably my least favourite of the Chrestomanci books. I enjoy The Goddess, Throgmorton, and Tacroy, but I don't feel all that connected to the actual plot. A bit too long, perhaps. Still, I enjoy revisiting when I reread the whole series!
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really love the Chrestomanci universe. (At least, I love the stories that surround the character and the castle, so notable exceptions include Volume II.) As a story, I don't think this is paced as well - or as fun - as Charmed Life, but it does dovetail with Charmed Life in fascinating, tongue-in-cheek ways, and those overlaps do a lot to elevate the story, placing it in context in the wider Chrestomanci universe.

More specifically, this is the story of the way the vague, suave, dressing-begow
Mindy Conde
Apr 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, children-s
The order to read these books is a bit murky. The newest publishing of the books list #2 as The Magician’s of Caprona, but a list I found that showed Diana Wynn Jones’ recommended reading order pointed to The Lives of Christopher Chant as #2, which was what I went with. Its confusing because the publishing order is another option that gives yet a different order. In any case, so far the stories are related but not so contingent on the others that I’ve found you have to read them in a certain ord ...more
For a while this was my all-time favorite book. I chose it to write a book review on when I was twelve, which was a lot of fun (though I seem to recall having some trouble picking out a favorite passage).
By the time I read this, I'd read two others of the same series, and so I was familiar with the character of Chrestomanci. As such, it was nice to see him growing up, and to be able to pick out traits he retains in the earlier books.
Similarly, it was interesting to see a younger version of Mill
Nov 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this series as a 5th grader. In fact, my copy got confiscated by the terrifying 4'9" Mrs. Wasserman because I was reading it under the desk and trying to look innocent.

I was delighted to reread this and realize that these books really ARE captivating, and maybe I did have some literary taste as a kid.

I loved the way the adolescent hero has a terrible shock discovering that he is not adorable, and that he may in fact be an arrogant jerk. What a perfect insight into being 13! And Jones is
Jul 13, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens-books
If you liked Harry Potter, don't read this book. If you think Harry Potter is derivative puerile nonsense entirely bereft of wit, charm, or originality then I salute you. You should enjoy this delightful children's fantasy.
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished this just as I crossed the border to Germany hehehe
Emma Rose Ribbons
Wow. Diana Wynne Jones is quite incredible, she's unlike anyone I've ever read (apart from maybe Pratchett). Her books are SO unique and memorable .

This was no exception, and I liked it more than Charmed Life because I loved all the main characters. The magic is super fun. Christopher can travel between worlds during his sleep and has got nine lives so his Uncle tasks him with recovering a series of objects from different, sometimes dangerous realms - until Christopher finds out he's destined to
An Odd1
Jun 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Funny, serious, memorable. Christopher grows up in magic Victorian London, escapes from marital conflict in dream spirit travel to Anywheres, strange lands, even mermaids. Of course, he would obey his uncle Ralph, the first adult to be kind and attentive. Asked to experiment with his skill under the guidance of Tacroy, bring back an animal, he goes after a Temple cat of the Asheth. The girl Goddess swops cantankerous ginger tom Throgmorten for books -- she's bored. The ruthless cat reminds him o ...more
Janelle Dazzlepants
This book has a similar plot to the first one in the series, Charmed Life, in that it follows the soon-to-be Chrestomanci's struggles to adjusting to life as a nine lifed enchanter in Chrestomanci Castle - except this time it's Christopher Chant instead of Cat/Eric Chant.

It's also similar in that Christopher was an obnoxious little brat about everything in the castle, and he acted like such a disrespectful twat and thought the most important thing in the world was cricket. That being said, he d
Mar 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Having read five of the Chrestomanci books, I think that the series should begin with this one (not the order they are are published in the three volumes). Like so many DWJ books, it is about a child obeying a wicked uncle (in other books, it's a parent, sister, or other awful relative). Christopher is mostly neglected by his wealthy parents, so it's no wonder that he latches onto the affection bestowed upon him by his uncle, who is manipulating his unusual ability to enter other worlds whilst d ...more
Julie Davis
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For as long as he can remember Christopher could walk in his dreams through the Place Between to different valleys for visits to the different towns and people there. Sometimes, if he worked hard at it, he could even bring back some of the gifts they gave him. This led to his uncle noticing his abilities and setting a series of experiments for Christopher to do while in these worlds. As time goes by, we watch Christopher grow, go to school, and eventually discover what his true talent is and wha ...more
A child with unusual dreams discovers the source and consequences of his magic. This is, finally, a worthy sequel to Charmed Life--which isn't to say that the intervening books were bad, but rather that that one and this one are very good. It has a phenomenal beginning, a dreamscape of multiple worlds, creative and playful and entrancing, and it doesn't lose its magic even when events become more mundane--thanks in part to DWJ's humor, which is critical without becoming cruel and sits on just th ...more
I read this as the second book in the series, following the author's suggested reading order. I was a little skeptical at first about this order, because I felt like this book was fairly similar to the first. It both concerned a young boy with 9 lives with several similarities between them.

But, Christopher is different from Cat, and his story is different. I now think that this book is a good sequel to the first, because it contains characters introduced in the first book but also expands on th
Serena W. Sorrell
Reading chronologically, this is the first book of the Chrestomanci series. And what a beginning it is. The reader gets to grow alongside Christopher Chant, and learn magic with him. The many worlds presented are fun, vibrant, and make for an interesting contrast to the one Chant lives in.

Jones' writing keeps readers thoroughly invested and submerged in her world. Even bits of exposition are presented as casual comments rather than any heavy-handed world building. Her works are always a joy to
DWJ, in these early Chrestomanci books, captures something of the blind obedience of children, doing what they're told (at least for people they like or trust) and understanding very little of what's going on. [Though Christopher is almost wilfully blind toward the end there.]

The story can be read from a post-colonial viewpoint, with the unhesitating exploitation of various cultures by the Wraith's gang, but it also raises the question of what gives a British government-appointed enchanter from
Harry Rutherford
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: light
I'm reading these in what Wikipedia informs me is Diana Wynne-Jones's suggested reading order, which is different from the publication order. I've been enjoying DWJ, which is why I've been reading them so quickly, but this is the first one which really makes me understand why she has such a devoted fanbase: she really has created a convincingly strange alternative world, with a real humour and charm to it.
Pam Baddeley
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, children
Although this is fourth in the Chrestomanci series, it actually gives the back story of the eponymous character, Christopher Chant being Chrestomanci's real name, as Chrestomanci is a title given to whoever is the current enchanter with nine lives. Christopher grows up with a weird childhood in an upper class home with nurses and later governesses, and where his mother communicates with his father either by passing notes to the servants, or by addressing a convenient servant along the lines of ' ...more
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Diana was born in London, the daughter of Marjorie (née Jackson) and Richard Aneurin Jones, both of whom were teachers. When war was announced, shortly after her fifth birthday, she was evacuated to Wales, and thereafter moved several times, including periods in Coniston Water, in York, and back in London. In 1943 her family finally settled in Thaxted, Essex, where her parents worked running an ed ...more

Other books in the series

Chrestomanci (6 books)
  • Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1)
  • Witch Week (Chrestomanci, #3)
  • The Magicians of Caprona (Chrestomanci, #4)
  • Conrad's Fate (Chrestomanci, #5)
  • The Pinhoe Egg  (Chrestomanci, #6)

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