Joanna Meyer's Reviews > The Crown of Dalemark

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones
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's review
Jan 04, 2016

it was amazing

My review of the series, taken from my blog:


The genius of these books is that the first three are set in the same world and reference the same landscapes and mythology, mostly centering around the god-like figures known as the Undying. CART AND CWIDDER and DROWNED AMMET are set in the same time but follow two completely different heroes. THE SPELLCOATS dips back into Dalemark's prehistory. THE CROWN OF DALEMARK brilliantly ties the threads of the previous three stories together, whilst adding the additional element of time travel. You guys, it's NUTS. Amazingly, marvelously, beautifully NUTS.

But I'll try and make more sense here.

CART AND CWIDDER follows Moril, the youngest son of a family of traveling Singers. He inherits his father's cwidder (a lute-like instrument), which is supposed to have belonged to one of the Undying, a famous ancestor who used the cwidder to move mountains (among other things). Moril finds himself caught up in the North/South conflict that plagues the country of Dalemark. Includes: siblings. music. tragedy. magic.

DROWNED AMMET follows a new character, Mitt, who lives in the South and throws his lot in with a bunch of misguided wannabe revolutionaries who are unhappy under the rule of the (admittedly extremely terrible) Earl Hadd. He winds up in a boat with two grandchildren of that very Earl, and the three have adventures at sea including encounters with two of the mysterious Undying: Old Ammet and Libby Beer.

THE SPELLCOATS, as previously mentioned, takes us into Dalemark's prehistory, and is told using a super interesting story-device: the protagonist, Tanaqui, is weaving the story into two rugcoats. This book follows a rambunctious and stunningly-characterized group of five siblings on their journey down an ancient river. It sheds more light on the mysterious Undying—even explaining a few of their origins—and introduces the evil, undead mage Krankredin. This is the only book written in first person and it definitely feels very different from the first two.

THE CROWN OF DALEMARK is the culmination of the first three books. It rejoins Mitt, who eventually meets up with Moril (hooray!!) as they journey with a group of people following Noreth, a young lady who claims to be the daughter of the oldest of the Undying, the One, and therefore the rightful heir to the long-absent crown. Flash-forward to two hundred years later, and we're introduced to Maewen, a lovely freckled and thoughtful heroine who gets sent back in time to take Noreth's place on the journey to find the crown. There's a twist near the end that for some reason I wasn't expecting but I dearly, dearly loved (and found was completely perfect when I thought back on the story). The way DWJ ties everything together is brilliant and satisfying. It makes you go oh!!!! and want to scramble back to the beginning of the series with your pencil so you can underline everything that you didn't know was important!

This series probably isn't for everyone. DWJ definitely doesn't spell everything out for you—it gets confusing at times, and you have to sit and ponder for a bit to reconcile all her threads you think at first she's left to dangle. As I've grown used to with her books, her endings are never quite ENOUGH. She seems to end two scenes too soon, which make her stories linger on in your mind in a way I don't think they would if she gave her readers just a little more. CROWN definitely had more of an ending than the first three, but it still left me desperate for a fifth volume that doesn't exist. The world she created in Dalemark is so rich and deep—so much only hinted at, so much life teeming under the surface. These books are brilliant and thought-provoking, tragic and deep and funny too. Highly recommended if you don't mind a bit of a think!
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Reading Progress

January 4, 2016 – Shelved
January 4, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
January 12, 2016 – Started Reading
January 12, 2016 –
page 0
0.0% "So excited about this final installment! Can't wait to see how the previous three books intersect with each other."
January 13, 2016 –
page 33
6.65% ""A Singer's cart had overturned on the bridge below." Eeeeeeeeeee I HOPE IT'S MORIL!!!!"
January 14, 2016 –
page 65
13.1% "This book is blowing my mind in a big way!!"
January 15, 2016 –
page 109
January 16, 2016 –
page 167
33.67% "Mitt and Moril talked it out! Finally! And YAY!!"
January 20, 2016 –
page 308
January 20, 2016 – Finished Reading

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