Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Almost Anywhere's

Welcome to today's rambling part two of my rare double header series.  I am doing another rambling because it is the second book/story in a volume I just recently finished and everything goes together to well to put a gap in between.  Anyways today I ramble about The Lives of Christopher Chant by Diana Wynne Jones and the second story in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci Volume 1.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
Christopher Chant has discovered that he has an amazing ability, he can slip out of his body and go to a place he calls the Almost Anywhere's. The Almost Anywhere's appear to Christopher as a bunch of different places connected the The Place In Between a rocky valley like place.  Christopher frequently visits these places and the strange people that populate them.  On occasion Christopher is able to bring back a gift that he is given in an Anywhere.  Back at home Christopher's mother and father (an enchanter and sorceress)  are constantly at odds and at times use Christopher to get at each other.  Christopher is assigned a governess and becomes acquainted with his Uncle Ralph who finds out about Christopher's abilities.  He asks Christopher to meet a colleague of his named Tacroy to conduct some experiments in the Anywhere's.  Christopher agree's and has fun with his new friend.  While working with Tacroy, Christopher runs into a girl called The Living Asheth, or The Goddess, a girl about his own age who has powers of her own.  In exchange for a Temple Cat, the Goddess asks for books and Christopher agrees.  While leaving with the cat, soldiers catch Christopher and hurl a spear through his chest, but as Christopher wakes up in his own bed, he decides no harm no
foul.  Unfortunately for Christopher, the cat he brought back is crazy and knocks the curtain rod into Christopher's chest, but he appears to only be wounded.  Christopher is sent to boarding school where he makes friends and learns that he loves the game of cricket and finds he has no talent for magic as he cannot perform even the simplest of spells in magic class.  He continues to help Tacroy with the "experiments" which usually consist of loading mysterious packages onto a vehicle for Tacroy to take back to wherever.  All of this comes to a screeching halt when his is killed when he is smashed in the head with a cricket bat.  Christopher wakes up in the morgue and it is discovered that he has nine lives and is sent to the current Chrestomanci to be trained as his successor.  It is discovered that by removing all silver from his person, Christopher is capable of performing massive feats of magic.  All kinds of stuff happens and Christopher is feeling lonely in a castle full of fusty adults and only the crabby Chrestomanci to pay any attention to him.  He is told the the Wraith, a nasty gang, has been smuggling illicit magic ingredients from the Related Worlds.  Christopher realizes that the Related Worlds are what he calls the Anywhere's and that his uncle is the one smuggling in the dangerous items.  Tacroy is captured and turns out to be a man who works for Chrestomanci, but even while being questioned, keeps Christophers part in it a secret.  Uncle Ralph kidnaps the Chrestomanci and scatters his lives across the worlds.  Christopher becomes the interim Chrestomanci and along with the Goddess (who found a way to enter the world 12A) and the rest of the household find a way to trap Uncle Ralph.  Tacroy turns out to be a person from world 11 (only one world in that series) a mysterious and dangerous place.  They all travel to world 11 and get Tacroy freed and reclaim the Chrestomanci.  The Chrestomanci is grateful and realizes that Christopher needs to be around kids his own age and forms a bit of a magic school at the castle for him, and that is how Christopher Chant becomes the next Chrestomanci with only two lives left.
Again, a bit of a long synopsis, but again the author is stuffing it full.  In this story we get to learn a lot more about the Related Worlds, how they work, and what they mean to each other.  I think what I liked best about this book was seeing the Related Worlds from so many point of views.  We have Christopher who views it as a child would, with wonders and potential friends around every corner.  He is not even 100% sure if it is real or not and treats it as a wonderful dream.  Uncle Ralph and his cronies see the worlds as a place to get rich.  They harvest and pillage, and even murder for no other reason then to further their own means.  Chrestomanci and his crew see the worlds as counter parts to their own, places that need to be protected and mostly left to their own devices.  Christopher's inability to do magic when in contact with silver was a nice touch, reminding us that for all their power, these enchanters are still human.  As in the last book we have lack of communication being a huge factor in what goes down in this story, showing how little adults tend to trust children...even if it is the children who are the primary concern.  The whole 11th world, getting Tacroy back thing could have probably been left out...unless it plays into other books...which it might...but for this book it seemed different from the rest of the story, like it was part of another idea.  I liked this story a lot, and it has cemented my love of this author and I already have Volume 2 on my shelf.  I give it 7 out of 10 silly ladies!
What Related World would you like to visit?  Why don't adult's think kids can handle at least the basic truth?  Where does one apply to become a living Goddess?

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