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The Islands of Chaldea

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  198 reviews
The brand new and final novel from the magical and whimsical pen of ‘the Godmother of Fantasy’, Diana Wynne Jones; co-authored with her sister Ursula Jones.

Aileen was supposed to grow up magical – just like the other women in her family. Unfortunately, she’s just found out that the magic seems to have skipped a generation… but that’s not her biggest problem right now.

In he
Hardcover, 274 pages
Published February 27th 2014 by HarperCollins Children’s Books (first published 2014)
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Can't Wait Sci-Fi/Fantasy of 2014
103rd out of 493 books — 2,531 voters
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Middle Grade Novels of 2014
75th out of 493 books — 864 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,251)
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Melissa McShane
I'm going to have to read this again before I'm certain I know what I think about it. It feels a lot more like her early books, which for me is a plus--I haven't really connected with the more recent ones. I really liked the way their questing party came together and then had to deal with their responsible adult suddenly become not-responsible. On the other hand, Ogo seemed to get competent and mature awfully fast for someone who'd been gawky and immature in a lot of ways at the beginning of the ...more
The late Diana Wynne Jones would have been 80 this year if she had been still with us. As always with posthumous novels the worry is, will this work be up to her usual standard, or will disappointment cloud the reputation that she painstakingly established for herself?

We find ourselves in on an alternate Earth, one of the author’s Related Worlds which are similar to but not the same as our own, chiefly because magic is always prevalent. The Islands of Chaldea (the real Mesopotamian polity of Cha
Sherwood Smith
This is Diana Wynne Jones's last book, finished by her sister. There are sprightly moments, nice animal companions, and the climax is sufficiently satisfying when heroine Aileen discovers her power at last.

But DWJ was very ill when writing it, and while it appears her sister scrupulously tried to match tone and storyline, the prose is flat for those who notice such things, and the characters sometimes silly. Moreover the story takes a very long time to stop meandering and get going. Not the plac
K.V. Johansen
I was so glad this turned out to be great. Even in her final illness, Jones was still capable of intricate plotting, delightful characters, and beautiful prose. Sometimes an MS left unfinished at an author's death and taken up by another hand ends up reading like a horrible pastiche of the author's voice, with the tacked-on bits like clumsy patches, but this is seamless. Ursula Jones deserves much praise for finishing her sister's last work and keeping it so true to what DWJ might have written. ...more
This is Diana Wynne Jones' very last book; left unfinished at her death, it was completed by her sister, to the delight of DWJ fans everywhere.

A prophecy says that if a Wise Woman journeys from Skarr, through Bernica and Gallis, and enters Logra with a man from each island, the curse can be lifted and the Crown Prince rescued. So off they go. The narrator (apprentice Wise Woman and dismally convinced she's no good at it), her aunt (the actual wise Woman), the Crown Prince's little brother (self-
New Diana Wynne Jones Novel is a Family Affair

And I've finished my last new Diana Wynne Jones novel. (I suppose I still have Changeover, but that hardly counts.)

The Islands of Chaldea falls more on the side of DWJ's middle-grade fiction, but it's witty and charming and has much to recommend it. I loved the Islands of Chaldea and Aileen, the future Wise Woman of Skarr. As this novel was finished after DWJ's death by her sister, I did consciously look for a shift in the writing,
This was such a pleasure. If not up to the standard of the top rank of DWJs work (Fire and Hemlock, Howl's Moving Castle, The Homeward Bounders, it is solidly in the middle, and a much more satisfying "final" work than her most recently published books. This was apparently an almost-complete manuscript, edited and completed by her sister Ursula; I'd love to know which bits were Ursula, because you really couldn't tell, at least on first reading. It's a fairly routine coming-of-age story, reminis ...more
The last Diana Wynne Jones.

The feel of this book is a combination of The Spellcoats and The Merlin Conspiracy, and though I was a little shaky on the characters at the start, I was pleasantly surprised where some of them went. There are high stakes, and bad things potentially happening (particularly those donkeys), but rarely any sense of real danger. Not exactly a romp though.

I wouldn't put it in my top ten DWJ's, but I read it straight through in very short order and was smiling by the end.
Brandy Painter
Originally posted here at Random Musings of a Bibliophile.

The Islands of Chaldea is the last novel from Diana Wynne Jones. Almost finished when she died and completed by her sister, it is sad to think that it the last time we will get a peek into her vast and varied imagination. However, I am MUCH HAPPIER with this as her final book than I was with Earwig and the Witch being her final. While not as wonderful as my favorite DWJ books, it is still very good. And a not as a good as the best DWJ is
Zach Sparks
I'm going to be honest here, I feel like I cheated by buying an ARC off of eBay even though I've already preordered the UK edition (guys, it even came with a letter from Diana's sister Ursula about her experience finishing up the book!). I was already going to get it three months ahead of everyone else in the states, and now I have it and have read it two extra months ahead. That being said, I don't feel guilty for cheating, I really don't, not after how much I enjoyed this book. It has DWJ's ch ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Book Angel Emma

Young wise woman, Aileen, dreams of following in her aunts footsteps. Aileen’s aunt was known throughout the remaining Islands of Chaldea for her remarkable knowledge of all things occurring frond her. However, soon there is a problem, ever since the barrier was erected around the island of Logra the guardians have been divided, resulting in the magic of the islands fading. Aileen and her aunt are sent to bring down the barrier and reunite the guardians. If that wasn’t hard e
Nov 02, 2014 Joan rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy readers and Jones' fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 15, 2015 Judy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: sbc
I have not read any of Ms Jones' past works and thus, unfamiliar with her style of writing. I felt that this book was intended to be longer with all the detailed details in earlier chapters, only to have it abprubtly end. I tried to make sense of the adventure and join Aileen and cast however I couldn't grasp the "magic". I was mostly lagging behind. But the conclusion was worth the wait (finally, some action).
Thomas Shepherd
The appearance of this book has been an unexpected pleasure for any Diana Wynne Jones fan, being the book that she was working on when she died, and for that you can forgive it if it is not the greatest Diana Wynne Jones story. Completed by Diana's sister Ursula Jones, she admits in the afterword that at some point Diana's story stopped dead with no notes...

I am pleased to say that you cannot tell where that join is, although in retrospect I do have an idea of where that might be. I'm not going
What a wonderful book to remember Diana Wynne Jones by. This book is the novel she was working on at the time of her death. Her sister Ursula Jones finished it and it’s impossible to tell where one author finished and the other one began. The smaller islands of Chaldea are cut off from the main island Logra by an impassable barrier. According to legend, the barrier can only be broken if a wise woman and a man from each island crosses it. Various magicians have tried, but all have been turned bac ...more
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So often, when reading Diana Wynne Jones, you feel there is a inner overarching mythology behind most of the worlds she creates, and each book lets you glimpse a slice of it - it feels the same in this, her last book. It was unfinished when she died, and her sister Ursula was 'volunteered' to finish it by the family - it reads pretty seamlessly, with the same strange yet consistent dream logic to events that Diana employed.
A fitting conclusion to a fantastic - in both original and contemporary s
Kate Holmden
I was in tears by the end. The last ever DWJ book! I couldn't tell where Ursula Jones had taken over the writing, the only bit that seemed not very DWJish was the very very last bit, but this was only because it wasn't the usual abrupt ending!
Miss Clark
2.5 stars Actually more coherent than most. And I truly could not tell where Diana left off and Ursula began. Quite an achievement.

Pretty basic quest, with some villains thrown in. The politics were a bit messy, but moved forward the plot and I enjoyed the characters much more than I anticipated. It reminded me often of Lloyd Alexander's quest standalones, like The Iron Ring or The Arkadians. Especially the bits with the parrot and such.
Melody Bremen
The Islands of Chaldea is certainly a book to remember. Our main character, Aileen, is a young girl from a long line of wise women, only she doesn’t feel that she’s terribly wise. We follow her rollicking journey to find a lost prince and are joined by one delightful character after the next. They’re all so enjoyable, you find yourself liking them all, even the ones you aren’t supposed to like.
The story is packed with imagination and intrigue, and it leaves you feeling good at the end. The remar
Ea Solinas
When Diana Wynne-Jones passed away in 2011, she left behind a partly-finished book. It was left up to her sister Ursula to complete it.

And so the world receives the final enchanting novel by this wildly underrated author -- "The Islands of Chaldea," a clever and magical adventure across an alternate version of the British Isles. It's literally impossible to tell where Ursula worked on this book, because it seems so typical of her sister's style: cats, spells, domineering older relatives and stra
So, this is it. The very last DWJ book. I had such an incredible sense of both nostalgia and sorrow while reading this. It’s one of Jones’s simpler books, in the style of Aunt Maria rather than Fire and Hemlock, but for the most part it has that wonderful DWJ atmosphere. The world, although not as developed as it potentially could have been, had a slight Earthsea feel to it. Although one review that I read said that the magic didn’t make any sense, I say that magic doesn’t have to make sense, ne ...more
I think this is a great book for fans of Diana Wynne Jones. New comers should start off with The Chrestomanci series, the always beloved Howl's Moving Castle, Fire and Hemlock, Dogsbody,The Merlin Conspiracy,The Homeward Bounders or Archer's Goon.

The marvel of this book is that you never notice two people writing it, because it's so beautifully well written. The protagonist's downright voice and nuanced, spunky character is what I have to come to expect as Diana's own special strength of charac
Aileen is training under her Aunt Beck in hopes of becoming a Wise Woman of Skarr, as all the women in her family have been. Life goes sideways when Aunt Beck is sent on a mission to lower the magical barrier separating Skarr and its neighboring islands from Logra, a fourth island. And it looks like someone would very much prefer they don't succeed, or come back . . .

That this novel exists at all is a bittersweet reminder that Diana Wynne Jones has passed away and couldn't write the entire thing
Nathan Dehoff
Diana was working on this book when she died, and left no notes as to how the plot would wrap up. Her sister Ursula finished it, and readers have been unable to tell where one Jones left off and the other started. We might not get the exact story Diana was going to tell, but we get a good one nonetheless. As with many of her books, this one deals with an alternate world with many similarities to our own, in this case a set of four islands resembling the British Isles. Skarr is known for its wise ...more
Gail Gauthier
"There wasn't a stand out character like Howl or Christopher Chant/Chrestomanci, though I think that if Jones had had all the time in the world, Aunt Beck or the captive prince she loved from afar might have become one. But they are both adult characters. I found Aileen, the child/teen main character, not very strong, though she does come through at the end. That may be a significant aspect of children's fantasy books, that the child protagonist transitions through the magic, the way real life c ...more
Emily Collins
This does remind me a lot of Diana's older books; the ones that are a little wild and undefined, bursting with a great magic that's a little darker and more ancient than, say, the Chrestomancy magic. It was WONDERFUL, an adventure all the way through, and I miss it now that I'm done reading it, which is common I find with most all of her books.
The Islands of Chaldea is about different kinds of magic and different islands working through people to bring together what was lost to them. I love LOVE
Eden Grey
I absolutely loved this book. It is fanciful, dramatic, clever, and beautiful. Diana Wynne Jones' last story is a masterpiece.

Reminiscent of Clive Barker's "Abarat" series and J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit", "The Islands of Chaldea" is an epic fantasy quest contained within the pages of a single lovely novel. The plot moves at just the right pace: sometimes a page-turning thrill, sometimes slow and contemplative. The cast of characters is well-rounded and interesting. There is so much character
Amy Musser
12 year old Aileen has always lived on the northern island of Skarr. She never dreamed that she would see the flatlands of Bernica or the musically, magically beautiful Gallis. And the magical force field separating Logra from the other islands made her very certain she’d never see that island. Having just failed her initiation as a Wise Woman, Aileen doesn’t think she’s fit to do much of anything. But little does she know the plot is growing around her that will send her on a dangerous and amaz ...more
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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...
Howl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1) Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, #2) Charmed Life (Chrestomanci, #1) The Lives of Christopher Chant (Chrestomanci, #2) House of Many Ways (Howl's Moving Castle, #3)

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