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The Spellcoats

(The Dalemark Quartet #3)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  3,345 ratings  ·  163 reviews
There is magic in the Weaver’s hands…

Accused of witchcraft, Tanaqui the Weaver and her brothers flee their village in a small boat down the great River swelled with floodtide, bearing with them the Undying – powerful statues of their native gods.

But at River’s end waits the evil sorcerer Kankredin, whose nets rob men of their souls and whose dark arts have enslaved all of
Published (first published 1979)
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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Melissa McShane
The Spellcoats is one of the first books I ever read by Diana Wynne Jones and is still one of my favorites. With her tenth published novel, she demonstrates a maturity that marks the rest of her career; as good as her previous works are, with The Spellcoats she plays with first person limited POV and the clash of cultures to create Dalemark's history in a way that perfectly fits what she's already established with Cart and Cwidder and the more complex Drowned Ammet.

I didn't realize, back in the
Mar 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Spellcoats stands in contrast to the densely plotted and bitingly humorous style I most associate with Diana Wynne Jones (at its most action-y in Dark Lord of Derkholm). It also, for my vote, is the real standout of the Dalemark quartet--paring down from the background politics of the first two books and going back hundreds of years to prehistoric Dalemark results in a smaller, more mythic tale that echoes more loudly for how much more contained it is.

Tanaqui and her siblings have always li
katayoun Masoodi
Jan 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, ebook
must say didn't know what to expect and so came in with low expectations for this, so maybe that's the reason, but i really really liked it. i actually thought that this was a right time in the series to have this prehistoric dalemark series. katie and beth thanks for making me read this one before the crown of dalemark, i think this makes the crown more enjoyable. ...more
Jones is just a fun author to read. This is the third in her Dalemark quartet, and I may like it the best of the four so far. It's a fast read and the characters have life. It's told from the perspective of the youngest sister, Tanaqui, who is weaving the story into a coat as she tells it. It develops nicely as she makes discoveries of her own that affect the plot's development. You'll find lots of seemingly little details that become significant, which adds to the adventure of reading. ...more
The Spellcoats is the penultimate installment in Diana Wynne Jones’ Dalemark Quartet and it is very different from its predecessors.

If Cart and Cwidder is our introduction to Dalemark, and Drowned Ammet is a fleshing out of that earlier exposure, then The Spellcoats is the (pre) historical volume that gives these two their significance in the grand scheme of things.

Set 600 years in the past, Spellcoats gives us a glimpse at prehistoric Dalemark, a time before the land was divided by North and
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
The Spellcoats is a perfectly fine, standalone YA fantasy novel. It was only much later, long after I first read this book as a teen-ager, that I learned it was #3 in Diana Wynne Jones’ The Dalemark Quartet. The edition I’m reviewing here makes no mention of the series. I tracked down the other three eventually but was underwhelmed by them. On the other hand, The Spellcoats was a favorite & one of the few books I recovered from my mother’s basement when we cleaned it out after her death.

The tale
Nov 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think this might be my favourite of the Dalemark books so far. It felt closer to what I expect from Diana Wynne Jones -- there is darkness, yes, but it doesn't feel the same; there's very little darkness in the protagonists. And we have a female main character who is the narrator! Tanaqui works well: she's not perfect, nor too annoying, but a good balance of characteristics -- unlike Robin, who just looks pale and interesting all the time without depth.

I enjoyed the way this deepened the under
Mar 01, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was an enjoyable read and did fun, trippy things with narrative. But I think I would have to reread the book after first rereading the first two Dalemark books to feel satisfied that I understood the plot.

I enjoy that this book is so grounded in its imagined world; the landscape, ecology, and culture feel absolutely authentic. DWJ doesn't write very much set in secondary worlds, but when she does set a book in one, she does it right!
Aug 03, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult, fantasy
YA Fantasy. SIX HUNDRED YEARS EARLIER, Tanaqui and her four siblings are forced out of their home and up the River, urged north to the sea by their older brother, Gull, who has been cursed by a powerful wizard.

Book three takes place in prehistoric Dalemark, a time when the land was a different shape and the divide between North and South didn't exist OR DID IT? Tanaqui's people are at war with fair-haired invaders, and after their father dies in battle, the children have no one to protect them w
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reread whilst ill: it's been a long time, and as usual with deliberate rereads I remembered some aspects very vividly and others not at all.

The Spellcoats is the first-person narrative of Tanaqui, a girl living in what's effectively the prehistory of the other Dalemark books. She is weaving her narrative into the eponymous spellcoats -- and she understands much more about what she is doing by the end of the novel than she does at the beginning, when events are set in motion by the King's recruit
Maureen E
Sep 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Again with the absolutely astoundingly gorgeous covers. This one is for The Spellcoats really, which makes me a bit sad. I want this style for all four!

Anyway. If the jump between Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet is disconcerting, the jump to The Spellcoats is even more so. Mitt and Moril might be only distantly aware of each other, but they are clearly in the same time. Tanaqui's story clearly is not. In fact, it's set in a sort of prehistoric Dalemark. Also, unlike the first two, it's in fi
Robin Stevens
Aug 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A beautifully weird and satisfying story, the third in the Dalemark Quartet (8+)

*Please note: this review is meant as a recommendation only. If you use it in any marketing material, online or anywhere on a published book without asking permission from me first, I will ask you to remove that use immediately. Thank you!*
Martyn Lampard
Better for me than the first two in the series, but can only warrant an extra star. Found the character building poor and by the end of the book I really didn't care about them. I felt as a prequel it was odd to be third in the series but was good to get some history of Dalemark.. Some good ideas and differnet take on magic again once again in this book , but perhaps reading this as an adult is why it doesn't work for me idk. I just hope that the forth and last in this series is better again.. ...more
Feb 17, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. It was nice. A little weird. I dont think I understood everthing that went on... I may need to re-read in english, one day.
I think I totally ship Hern and Kars Adon. I'm gonna go look for fanfics about those too.
I finally completed my set of Dalemark books (from diverse sources: ex-library, gift, Leura books online, and Sydney Kinokuniya!), so have started reading them through in chronological order (not published order), beginning with a re-read of The Spellcoats! I loved the environment of this book, and as always with DWJ the characters are wonderfully vibrant. The ending did feel somewhat abrupt, but was convincing within the format of the book.
May 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One can feel it's a very early work, heavily influenced by Tolkien's LOTR.
Beautiful book, loved it very much
Maria Elmvang
Review in English below.

På trods af at De magiske kapper er tredje bog i en serie, kan man sagtens læse den uden at have kendskab til serien. Det gjorde jeg, og det første lange stykke tid, troede jeg næsten der var sket en fejl i navngivningen, fordi handlingen på ingen måde afslørede at der skulle have været to bøger før den.

Det viste sig dog at have sin gode forklaring. Kronologisk er De magiske kapper den tredje bog i Dalmark-kvartetten, men handlingsmæssigt beskriver den begivenheder der fo
Oct 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dwj
A young girl, who has little idea that she has a talent for weaving magical spells into garments, has to abandon home along with her orphan siblings when they are all suspected of colluding with invaders with whom they happen to share physical characteristics. Thus begins a journey downriver to the sea and then back again up to its source before the causes of the conflict can start to be addressed.

The Spellcoats has a markedly different feel compared to the middle two Dalemark tales (http://wp.m
Jan 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
The Spellcoats has a very different tone as compared to the first two books in the series. According to the map at the beginning, this is prehistoric Dalemark, before earls and North vs. South and even before the gods and stories as they are known in Mitt and Moril's time. The tone takes a little getting used to, but Tanaqui is a fascinating and vivid narrator. It was fun to wrap my head around the idea of her weaving the story into a coat.

In this volume, we visit the place where the stories in
Althea Ann
Jun 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first, this story seems to have little relationship to the two before it. It's not till the very end that it's revealed that it takes place in Dalemark – but during near-prehistoric times. The society portrayed is very primitive, perhaps analogous to Bronze Age tribes in Britain. When most of the men of a village go off to fight a war against some blond invaders, the pale, fair looks passed down to one family's children by their mysterious, foreign(?) mother make them a target of fear and sup ...more
May 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this recently -- I always hesitate to revisit favorite authors from my youth, but this didn't let me down. To be sure, the plot is both elementary in fantasy terms and standard for Jones (it seems like almost every single one of her early books involved the main character discovering the hidden magical talents they were born with), but it's really well told. The four main characters (Tanaqui and her siblings Hern, Duck, and Robin) all have distinct personalities, they interact with each o ...more
Shawn Thrasher
Mar 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DWJ has created, from whole cloth, this political world of Dalemark; in The Spellcoats she takes us back in time to its legends and mythology. One of the themes is when legends were little kids, what were they like? Some books have explored this before - The Sword in the Stone comes to mind. But DWJ's legendary children certainly act like real siblings, down to the pouting, teasing, bickering, and occasional fist fights that sisters and brothers get into. Overall, the tone of The Spellcoats is q ...more
A really odd novel by Diana Wynne Jones - and my appreciation of it is surely not helped by the fact it has been years since I read the first two books. It is an archaic mythic sort of YA fantasy, and it stands on its own almost, apart from the ending where resolution is projected to the final book in the quartet. It reminded me a bit of Red Shift, though less cryptic and less despairing. But it is odd indeed. And I did not like Spellcoats nor respect it much. The almost trademarked mythic plot ...more
By far my favorite of the Dalemark Quartet (so far)!
Tanaqui was a fantastic narrator, and I liked how truly..... unlikable... her and her siblings were. (...maybe unlikable is not the right word... what I mean to say is, as they got annoyed with each other, I got annoyed at and with them, which happened QUITE A BIT, so while clearly I was emotionally invested, it did not make a large section of the book very fun to read)
HOWEVER the manner in which the story was presented (as a recovered histor
Oct 26, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: imaginitive, well-read pre-teens; early-mid teens
Shelves: for_children
For that post-Harry, pre-something heavy and involved time.

Recommended to me by my genetics prof (who saw me finishing a Harry Potter book one day on campus). The Dalemark Quartet is more advanced reading than the Harry Potter books, but the same type of fanstasy and contains a long and interwoven story line that fully comes together in The Crown of Dalemark. Characters and items in each previous book play a main role in this last installment so the quartet must be read in order and close togeth
This was disappointing. I was looking forward to reading this 3rd volume seeing as how it had higher ratings than the first two. It started very whimsical and I liked the narrative aspect but it dragged on and on, and I couldn’t feel as excited as I was with the first 2 books. Writing was still up to par with the first 2 books but the story didn’t grab my attention as well. Could I have read the quartet without the third book? Probably.
Ruth Dahl
Dec 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Started slowly, and seemed a little out there for Diana, because of the religiosity of "The Ones" but at the midway point her humour really started showing through.
Can't wait to read the rest of the Dalemark Quartet
Mar 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
When I first read this as a kid, I thought it was terribly dull. I was wrong.
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, young-adult
Sometimes, immortal creatures who claim they aren't gods sure seem to be gods. ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Spellcoats is the third in the series, and I read it a few years after I read the first two, which may have affected my perception of it. The first two are freestanding stories but share enough references to show they are taking place at roughly the same time; The Spellcoats is a very different book and, aside from being in approximately the same world, has no apparent connection to the other two.

The premise is that colonists are arriving from overseas, who claim the land as their ancestral
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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

The Dalemark Quartet (4 books)
  • Cart and Cwidder (The Dalemark Quartet, #1)
  • Drowned Ammet (The Dalemark Quartet, #2)
  • The Crown of Dalemark (The Dalemark Quartet, #4)

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