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The Islands of Chaldea

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  2,103 ratings  ·  355 reviews
The Islands of Chaldea is a new, stand-alone novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones. Almost finished upon her death in 2011, the manuscript was completed by Diana's sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.

Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But Aileen'
Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 22nd 2014 by Greenwillow Books (first published 2014)
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Average rating 3.85  · 
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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
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dwj, fantasy
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
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, middle-grade, own
When Diana Wynne Jones passed away, I immediately preordered her "final book," which arrived on my doorstep a few weeks later. It was called Earwig and the Witch, and is very cute. Somehow, despite my great love for her and her books, and the fact that I know people in publishing who are also big fans, I missed the fact that Earwig and the Witch was NOT her final book! Apparently her sister Ursula Jones was asked by the family to finish the book she had been working on when she died: this book, ...more
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
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The best thing about reading a Diana Wynne Jones book is the certainty that, halfway through, the plot will undergo such a twist that it flips the story you thought you were reading inside out. (See Hexwood, but also Fire and Hemlock and almost all of her other books, including middle grade ones.) The setup is so sly that the clues that should alert you to Upcoming Major Plot Twist slide right under the radar and are obvious only in retrospect.

Sadly, Diana Wynne Jones died before finishing The I
Debbie Gascoyne
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
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
Jun 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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,
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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-
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.
Pam Baddeley
This book was still unfinished at the point of the author's untimely death and was, as explained in an afterword, finished by one of her sisters after the rest of the family could not think of how to progress it - DWJ did not do plotlines or leave notes. Possibly this is why I found it a bit disatisfying although I liked certain elements of it, for example, the parrot and the little dragon, plus the idea of the young heroine who believes she is a failure as an apprentice Wise Woman when actually ...more
Jan 20, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've had this book sitting on my Teetering Pile for far too long... but I'm very glad I finally got around to it! I must confess that I was not able to figure out quite where DWJ's writing ended and where her sister's began, but I don't know that it's important to be able to tell the difference. The book as a whole reminded me so much of the sort of tales DWJ would write in earlier years... almost more of a fairy tale than a straight out fantasy novel (at least that's the only way I can think to ...more
Brandy Painter
Jun 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade, fantasy
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
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Zach Sparks
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dwj, books-i-own
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
Nov 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simply amazing!
You'll love the heroin and her sense of humor!
Lara Mi

“Verily the cunning of the cat is in me.”

2018 was the year in which I wanted to read all of Diana Wynne Jones' works that I had collected over the years. As The Islands of Chaldea was her final work, I also decided to save it for last. With that, I felt sad and almost rather nervous getting into this one; I really wanted to like her final work and I wasn't sure what the chances were seeing as her sister Ursula completed it. Although I could tell that the last chapters weren't Diana anymore, I
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: fantasy readers and Jones' fans
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 03, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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). ...more
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Jamie Dacyczyn
Unfortunately, this book completed posthumously by Diana Wynne Jones' sister just doesn't have the same magic for me somehow. I had a hard time being interested in the meandering plot. A younger reader (for whom this is intended) may have more patience, but I found myself just skimming the second half of the book. It's a bummer that DWJ couldn't finish this herself. ...more
Joaquin Mejia
Sep 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Novels like this one are such great consolations for me in these dark times. These stories of magic and adventure comfort me as I stay in my house in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic. I am very grateful that I had the chance to read this because I expected to have very little time for leisurely reading when I arrived in my last school year for high school. Diana Wynne Jones had become sort of a go-to author of light and fun novels for me. This is the thirteenth novel by her that I read.

This bo
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: guest-reviews

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
A very fitting last book from Diana Wynne Jones that feels like it has a lot of elements from her earlier written books! The tone, the little quirky sayings, and just all around fun characters had me captivated and I wanted to read it from start to finish in one go.

I really laughed out loud a couple times, especially at the Aileen's internal commentary about Ivar and Ogo and just the ridiculousness of some of the things that happened on the journey.

We begin the story with Aileen who really thi
Amanda Kespohl
Oct 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
There are some books I read knowing that they will tear my feels to shreds in the most glorious way. There are others that I go into expecting to be so overwrought over the fate of a fictional world that I'll scarcely be able to breathe as I turn the pages. And there are some books that are just . . . comforting. Like a mug of hot cocoa on a cold day, spreading warmth throughout your body as you sip. Rich, delicious, and soothing. A lot of Diana Wynne Jones' books have the latter effect on me. T ...more
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
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
Really simplistic and predictable for a Diana Wynne Jones book.
Anne Hamilton
Mar 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, children, ya, spec-fic
I read this book when it first came out. Then couldn't remember enough about it to write a review a few months later. That's the odd thing about books by Diana Wynne Jones: they're real page-turners but it's so often difficult to remember what happened. I've got almost all the way through Power of Three three times without realising I'd read it before. Only when I suddenly realised I knew what was about to happen next did I recall having read it previously.

So, what does it say that a book is a g
Deborah O'Carroll
Finished this last night--my first read for this year's #MarchMagics and one of the last DWJ books I hadn't read yet!

It was so much fun! I loved Aileen (she reminded me a bit of Tiffany Aching) and the sprawling cast of varied characters.

I loved the different islands and getting to travel across them (rather like the British Isles but still with their own twists).

I loved the creatures! What fun.

And I love how it all wrapped up rather well--quite curious where Diana's sister Ursula picked up the
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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

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