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A Sudden Wild Magic

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  1,520 ratings  ·  104 reviews
For aeons the mages of Arth, a neighbouring universe, have been looting Earth of ideas, innovations and technologies, all the while manipulating events and creating devastating catastrophes for their own edification. Now this brazen piracy is threatening Earth with total extinction. It is up to the Ring, a secret society of witches and warlocks dedicated to the continuance ...more
Unknown Binding, 380 pages
Published July 1st 1997 by Gollehon Books (first published 1992)
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Average rating 3.76  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,520 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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T.D. Whittle
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was ok
Lost interest about halfway through. This one lacked the charm, for me, of her other books I've read. ...more
May 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I know a lot of Diana Wynne Jones fans don't particularly like this book but I really loved it. I loved the oddball cast of characters that are all thrown together, I loved the strange plot and different magical races and people, and I enjoyed seeing Diana Wynne Jones write adult voices. For me everything clicked and although I wasn't very taken with the main romance and protagonist because I enjoyed all the other characters so much it didn't really matter to me. I'm already looking forward to r ...more
Deborah O'Carroll
3.5 stars

Not my favorite DWJ book--it's an Adult book (very, very specifically) and this is why I feel like she should have stuck with children's books. XD

Don't feel like writing a whole review. But I def don't recommend for younger readers, and feel like a lot of my friends wouldn't care for this due to some of the content. Definitely don't start out with DWJ with this one--start with Howl's Moving Castle, because it's the best. :D

This was definitely an interesting read, and while I didn't ca
Pam Baddeley
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
Wasn't sure what to expect with this book which I gathered was an adult novel from DWJ well known for her children's and young adults' fantasy fiction. In the event, it read very similarly to her books for younger children, for example the Chrestomanci series, but with the addition of mostly low key and certainly non explicit references to sex and with a plot that hinged partially on the ability of a team of women agents to seduce their male hosts.

In a nutshell, our world has been influenced for
A Sudden Wild Magic was, I believe, Diana Wynne Jones's first formal foray into adult fantasy (though of course many of her young adult and children's fantasy appeals to adults as well). This is my third or fourth reread of it, and although I enjoy it, I still don't think it works as well as most of her other books.

The story takes place in two universes: our own, and the universes of the Pentarchy, whose mages are creating environmental havoc on Earth in order to learn from Earth's mages' respon
Althea Ann
Nov 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of Diana Wynne Jones' more 'adult' books, but one that will appeal to her fans in general, with its mix of homey appeal, warm humor, fast-paced action and serious themes.
The Earth We Know (or at least, an Earth very similar to ours) is secretly watched over by a ring of magical adepts. To their dismay, they discover that a neighboring universe has been messing with us - causing all sorts of disasters, apparently in the hopes that they'll learn useful knowledge by studying how we deal with ea
Mar 28, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, dwj
Magic is mostly ideas -- they're the strongest thing there is!
-- Gladys, X/2

The fantasies of Diana Wynne Jones are the epitome of wild magic, as other commentators have previously noted. You can guess what 'wild magic' is -- uncontrolled flights of powerful fancy spiralling off in unexpected directions, or some such will-o'-the-wisp definition -- and virtually every writing of this much missed author is replete with it. A novel entitled A Sudden Wild Magic is naturally going to include rather a
Jannah Cloud Child
This kept me up all last night, I was pretty interested. It had its usually charm of DWJ sand her twisty style. Overall really interesting though I did feel the the alternate universe was a bit sketchy. Wish I'd read it before but I kept leaving it because I listened to reviews. Need to stop doing that ...more
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
A curiously flat novel, containing all the classic DWJ ingredients, baked in a hotter oven and not nearly as enjoyable as it could have been.

In an essay, DWJ stated that she tried writing an adult novel as an experiment, and that she found the experience frustrating and unpleasant. With her children's novels, she never felt limited in what kinds of things she could put in, what kinds of attitudes and motivations to give her characters. In an adult novel, the reasons and struggles are so much mor
Debbie Gascoyne
I certainly enjoyed this a lot more than the first (or even second) time that I'd read it. I didn't really remember it - it obviously didn't make much of an impression on me. This time, I found more in it to enjoy. I think because I've been reading so much about DWJ and am in the process of working my way through most if not all of her books, I noticed more. Also I'm looking for things, like her references to creativity and the way she represents magical power. I found it uneven - slow to begin ...more
Simon Mcleish
Originally posted on my blog here in September 2000.

A Sudden Wild Magic hovers uneasily between the child and adult book markets; it is basically a child oriented plot to which sex scenes have been added.

The fundamental idea is that it is a magical cabal who have protected Great Britain throughout history - a convenient hurricane destroying the Armada here, Hitler deciding to invade Russia rather than Kent there - but with a twist: most of the world's crises have been magical in origin, set in m
Jan 16, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Gosh, I've never had such mixed feelings about a book. Parts of it I hated, parts of it made me laugh out loud, and of course I got swept away by the usual whirlwind Diana Wynne Jones ending. But did I like it?

(Cut for mild spoilers/discussion of plot)

(view spoiler)
Julie Davis
Yet another from my new favorite author which was lent by the same kind friend who has been supplying me with literary "crack."
Our world has long been protected by "The Ring" - a benevolent secret society of witches and conjurers dedicated to the continuance and well-being of humankind. Now, in the face of impending climatic disaster, the Ring has uncovered a conspiracy potentially more destructive than any it has ever had to contend with. For eons, the mages of a neighboring universe have been
Mar 25, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The book started with a very intriguing plot in which an organization of magic users realized that another planet/universe instigated certain events like world war II and global warming to watch how Earth's advancements and inventions will deal with these problems. However, after about halfway, the book got very tedious to read and I was tempted to just put it down: There was a lot of perspective switching and many subplots revolving around character interactions that were only superficially tou ...more
Emily Collins
Sep 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk-authors
As far as I can tell, this is the one adult novel that I have ever found written by Diana Wynne Jones. It was a bit hard to get used to an author who normally puts only the most subtle of love lines in a story to have a book that seems pretty blatantly based around who is sleeping or has slept with whom, and the effect that that has had (it's not the main plot point by any means, but from Diana any mention of this is weird). I was extremely thankful for the fact that she left out any actual sex ...more
Mar 05, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Much as I adore Diana Wynne Jones's writing, every now and then I find one of hers that just makes me go "meh". A Sudden Wild Magic is one of them. It has many of the same themes as my all time favorites of hers including Fire and Hemlock and Hexwood: strong women, men who need to be saved from evil, and great minor characters. But unlike the characters in F&H and Hexwood, I found this hero and heroine not very engaging. It's not that they were unlikeable (well, one of them was borderline) so mu ...more
Feb 24, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yuk
Full of DWJs usual excellent creativity and characterizations, but the heroines of the story win by sleeping with the enemy. Not by being strong or clever or lucky or determined or kind. But through sex. Go prostitution! Ugh. Not an inspirational look into the mind of the author. If this had been my first read of her books, I'd never have read another. It does make me want to go back and examine the heroines in her other stories. Are they all rescued? Howl's Moving Castle? Yes, she's rescued. Ac ...more
Nov 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-or-access, 2013, 2014
I did really enjoy this - it had more interesting magic and worlds than DWJ usually does, though possibly this was just because I didn't know the plot already.

The main difference to her children's books, however, seemed to be that the characters were more morally ambiguous - typically for DWJ, I can't decide whether this was badly done or not.
My last unread DWJ... :(

This feels odd, though. I'm not sure she really mastered the switch from children's to adult books. But
Nov 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite children's fantasy writers. This is one of her few books aimed at an adult audience and is just plain fun. It's not perfect, but if you want a fast-paced fantasy about witches, warlocks, alternate worlds, and environmental issues "with a little sex in it" (as the producers in Sullivan's Travels said) this is your book! ...more
I am fascinated by how often Diana Wynne Jones creates people who I would consider unpleasant in any other circumstance-- liars and cheats, unfaithful and lazy-- and makes me identify with them. And it's not that I think their failures are interesting (it's not the bad boy effect) they just serve to make the characters REAL. She is SO good at that. ...more
Feb 06, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
A misfire by the usually charming Diana Wynne Jones. I found the plot bewildering—it involves a diabolical plan by magic users in another dimension to use global warming to disrupt Earth, also witches, numerous cats and an alien monkey—and the characters, for the most part, unappealing.
Stephen Stewart
A Sudden Wild Magic by Diana Wynne Jones follows an escalating conflict between our world and a parallel world, in which a secret society of Earth's witches and wizards discover that this parallel world is leeching ideas and technology from us. Worse, that world is instigating conflict such as a global warming in our world to force us to research certain techniques for them, and the witches and wizards and our world concoct a daring plan to stop this once they find out. High jinks ensue.

I picke
Jun 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Been a while since I last read a DWJ book and my first foray into her fiction for adults.

I found the overwhelming British-ness and messy chaos of the worlds of Earth, Arth and the Pentarchy charming and delightful. It was a treat to have a cast of varied characters with distinct and mostly strong personalities.

What I liked less was the rushed ending, sudden closure to some story and character plotlines and most of all, I hated Marcus's baby talk. Throughout it was impossible to understand and
Ann Johnson
Aug 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
It's strange how much I enjoyed this book. I read several critical reviews (after I'd read the book), and my usual thought was 'Yes, but...'. The 'main character' wasn't that interesting. Yes, but the other characters were great. She could have omitted the 'main character' and her love interest, her toddler son who talks gibberish that only his mom can understand (I usually hate that, but I just skipped over it in this book), and the entire 'love story' plot line involving said 'main character', ...more
Kathy Piselli
Jan 01, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi
I started to get a little bogged down with the Couples-style infidelities and assignations, but Jones quickly got the magic in that saved everything from boredom. I still think there might have been a few too many characters. Still there were many fine moments. Some jokes on the green economy, like the character who has all the recycled toilet paper ("*could* one recycle toilet paper?" muses someone), the character who uses an old fashioned clasp purse, the hilarious views of Earth, specifically ...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
Re-reading in advance of the 2019 DWJ Conference in Bristol.

Not one of her best, but interesting to see how she adapts her techniques to an older intended audience. For some reason my British edition has US language and spelling.

In many ways part of the canon in using the multiple universe idea, though her suspicion of bureaucracy and officialdom comes through even more strongly - more like magids than Chrestomanci in tone, though with a similar level of threat to the multiverse of Hexwood. Mos
Helen Swinyard
As always, beautifully written and full of mind-boggling ideas and concepts. However I was slightly confused most of the way about what was really happening (underneath the obvious main plot /movement of characters) but this may be because I left gaps between reading. Wynne Jones is an amazing writer and I still maintain it is worth reading anything she wrote - but this is not the book to start with.
Marsha Valance
The governing witchcraft council of Britain discovers mages from an alternate universe have been inducing disasters to piggyback on British problem-solving skills. An invasion is undertaken to stop a critical imbalance of the universes.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Classic Diana.
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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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