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The Lives of Christopher Chant

(Chrestomanci #2)

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  21,224 ratings  ·  664 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
Paperback, 240 pages
Published October 19th 1998 by Greenwillow Books (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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Average rating 4.24  · 
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 ·  21,224 ratings  ·  664 reviews

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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
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
Katie Lumsden
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyable - one of my favourite Diana Wynne Jones books so far. Great fun, entertaining, compelling and just a lovely read.
Rachel (Kalanadi)
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
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. ...more
I don't think I'll ever get over how fantastic this series is. ...more
Cat M
Oct 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Jan 12, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, audio, ya
Where Charmed Life and Magicians of Caprona were more on a kiddie side of the series, somewhere around Witch week the series started to grow up. This one is the 4th in the series and it has definitely a more complex plot. I really loved this book till almost the end. The landing was rocky, DWJ sometimes rushes in the end, story became a bit too convoluted. But I loved young boy Chrestomanci and The Living Asheth very much. ...more
Review to come
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
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 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 01, 2010 rated it liked it
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'
J.Aleksandr Wootton
Oct 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
This second installment of the Chrestomanci series is direct prequel to Charmed Life, in which Jones more fully develops her "many worlds" fantasy setting by telling how Christopher Chant grew up to occupy the position of Chrestomanci, despite losing so many of his nine lives along the way.

It is a quite magical biography and a different sort of story than Charmed Life, although both are tinged with real darkness, and both deal with the consequences of emotional neglect, which leaves others, chi
Carolyn Klassen
Jul 30, 2014 rated it liked it
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! ...more
Sep 11, 2020 added it
Shelves: fatphobic, g-slur

“savage” slur, g-slur, fatphobia.

This is the one I really want to re-read. But I will do so sometime after I finish this series. Christopher has grown on me and I just want to see the way he has changed. My favorite aspect of him does not look like it will change. Which I love. I just admire his cynicism and this is very much a part of him that seems to remain with him through the years.
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
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
DWJ really know how to write the most vile adults.

I'm very glad that these books are some of the very rare 5-star books that I only reread once every 3-5+ years or so? I have read almost all of my other favorite books to bits until I very nearly have them memorized (P&P and Persuasion, Queen's Thief books, Troubled Waters, Harry Potter, too many more to name) but somehow I've resisted the urge with Howl's Moving Castle and the Chronicles of Chrestomanci. The result is that I genuinely cannot re
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
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. ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: heart-eyes-emoji
Finished this just as I crossed the border to Germany hehehe
anna marie
hmmm i would maybe give this 2.5 - 3 stars? i think they are okay, i like some of the concepts & magic & characters, but i think the way that people from different worlds/places/races are represented through a really orientalist lens + some of the vocabulary used to describe certain groups of people was quite gross.
"People only want either of us for what use we are to them!" she sobbed. "You for your nine lives and me for my Goddess atributes. And both of us are caught and struck and trapped in a life with a future all planned out by someone else-like a long, long tunnel with no way out!"

I really love Diana Wynne Jones' books!
Jan 17, 2021 rated it really liked it
I'm always impressed by how much Character dwj can fit into a relatively short children's novel. It's aspirational ...more
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
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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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