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on 7 March 2005
Conrad's fate doesn't have much to do with his fate at all, but there are the things here that an avid Chrestomanci fan has come to expect and treasure. This should not be the starting point of anyone's journey into this wonderful world, instead try 'Charmed Life' or 'The Lives of Christopher Chant' before progressing on to this. This is becuase Conrad's Fate explains the least about this world an assumes that you already have some knowledge. It carries on with the character of Christopher chant in a wonderfully superior way, he is skillfully portrayed as being between 'The Lives of Christopher Chant' and the later books (though sadly lacking in dressing gowns). This is also the most complicated in the sequence, but dont let that put you off. Once you get used to pulling the posibilities all becomes clear(ish). Jones carries this book off in a evocative first person account. Definately worth a read for anyone who has read any of the others in the sequence. Those who havent should read the others quickly so that they can get on to this one. You don't know what you are missing. Dare I say it, a book for all ages.
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Diana Wynne-Jones returns to the world(s) of Chrestromanci in the fifth full-length book in her most popular series. Though fans of the dapper magician might be disappointed that he is a supporting character, the title "Conrad's Fate" indicates who is the star of this twisty, hilarious fantasy.

Conrad Tesdinic has always been told by his creepy Uncle Alfred that he has bad karma -- apparently he failed to kill someone in a previous life, and will die in a year unless he kills them now. So Conrad finds himself being shipped off to the castle of Stallery, as a servant, to find the person he has to kill. Joining him is Christopher, a smart boy who seems able to work magic, yet doesn't know what a chili pepper is.

Christopher eventually tells Conrad that he is a nine-lived magician, and has run away from his own world to find his friend Millie, who has also run away. She's somewhere in the castle, but he can't find her. Peculiar behavior from the count and his family, a troupe of actors, and strange shifts in reality are plaguing Stallery, and Conrad soon finds that he may have more than bad karma to worry about.

Diana Wynne-Jones' most popular fantasy series is the Chrestomanci one, which predated the Harry Potter series with its organizational magic and twinkly British humor. It's complex, funny and more than a little strange, and fans of "The Lives of Christopher Chant" will enjoy seeing old favorites -- like Millie and Gabriel -- returning to Jones' writing.

Fans of Chrestomanci/Christopher Chant may be slightly disappointed by his secondary role. But then again, the book IS called "Conrad's Fate," so it's hardly surprising that the narrator is Conrad. Conrad himself is a likable kid, with bad luck and a pleasant personality, but who is also plagued by spells and lies from the people around him. And Christopher is showing signs of the dapper, intelligent magician he later becomes.

The last parts of the book become somewhat confusing, with several intertangled plotlines, only to have Jones suddenly snap them taut. It's a credit to her that she is able to have a shifting castle, runaway magicians, a knitting witch, a gold-digger, faux nobility and an assassination plot all come to a head simultaneously. And her dialogue ("You pear-shaped freak!") shows that her sense of humor has not dulled with time.

At the end of "Conrad's Fate," it's hard not to wonder what is going to happen next in the series. Fortunately, in the meantime, this book is a delightful fantasy mystery.
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Diana Wynne-Jones returns to the world(s) of Chrestromanci in the fifth full-length book in her most popular series. Though fans of the dapper magician might be disappointed that he is a supporting character, the title "Conrad's Fate" indicates who is the star of this twisty, hilarious fantasy.

Conrad Tesdinic has always been told by his creepy Uncle Alfred that he has bad karma -- apparently he failed to kill someone in a previous life, and will die in a year unless he kills them now. So Conrad finds himself being shipped off to the castle of Stallery, as a servant, to find the person he has to kill. Joining him is Christopher, a smart boy who seems able to work magic, yet doesn't know what a chili pepper is.

Christopher eventually tells Conrad that he is a nine-lived magician, and has run away from his own world to find his friend Millie, who has also run away. She's somewhere in the castle, but he can't find her. Peculiar behavior from the count and his family, a troupe of actors, and strange shifts in reality are plaguing Stallery, and Conrad soon finds that he may have more than bad karma to worry about.

Diana Wynne-Jones' most popular fantasy series is the Chrestomanci one, which predated the Harry Potter series with its organizational magic and twinkly British humor. It's complex, funny and more than a little strange, and fans of "The Lives of Christopher Chant" will enjoy seeing old favorites -- like Millie and Gabriel -- returning to Jones' writing.

Fans of Chrestomanci/Christopher Chant may be slightly disappointed by his secondary role. But then again, the book IS called "Conrad's Fate," so it's hardly surprising that the narrator is Conrad. Conrad himself is a likable kid, with bad luck and a pleasant personality, but who is also plagued by spells and lies from the people around him. And Christopher is showing signs of the dapper, intelligent magician he later becomes.

The last parts of the book become somewhat confusing, with several intertangled plotlines, only to have Jones suddenly snap them taut. It's a credit to her that she is able to have a shifting castle, runaway magicians, a knitting witch, a gold-digger, faux nobility and an assassination plot all come to a head simultaneously. And her dialogue ("You pear-shaped freak!") shows that her sense of humor has not dulled with time.

At the end of "Conrad's Fate," it's hard not to wonder what is going to happen next in the series. Fortunately, in the meantime, this book is a delightful fantasy mystery.
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on 27 April 2013
This is a general review for the Chrestomanci series by Diana Wynne-Jones. I first read the Chrestomanci series when I was 23. I am now 37 and I am re-reading them again and it is just so blissful! The first Chrestomanci book "Charmed Life" was written in 1977 about 20 years before the first Harry Potter. In this book, newspaper photos moved, Chrestomanci had his different lives hidden in different places, people in portraits and pictures jumped from frame to frame, plenty of clever cats, not a magic wand in sight and so on. From the lowest witch or warlock to the most powerful enchanter, no wand. We're talking people with real abilities, and who do not become useless as soon as they lose their wand. Basically, many, many ideas in the Harry Potter books, you will find in her books. Although the stories are entirely different. And she writes in a light fashion, without too much overwhelming descriptions but just enough to keep the story moving at a good pace.

Why there has never been movies made of these books is a mystery to me as they are so superior to a lot of other teenage books around. Perhaps Wynne-Jones didn't want to. I highly recommend these books. I have just about finished the lot and I am restarting them again, particularly "Charmed Life" which I think is just superb. One just falls in love with the character that is Chrestomanci.

I very, very rarely read a book twice. However, with the Chrestomanci, I just seem to never tire. Even more so with her wonderful book "Howl's Moving Castle" which is not part of this series but which was made into an extraordinary full-length animated feature by the one and only Japanese master story-teller Hiyao Mayazki (Studio Ghibli). Now, I have lost count of how many times I have read this book. I just never bore of it either.

Diana Wynne-Jones is the only fiction author whose books I have read over and over. No one else. I completed "Charmed Life", and started straight at the beginning again.

I wish she had had time to write two or more Chrestomanci books before she passed away. At any rate, I believe her books will be in print for many decades to come.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 12 May 2012
This books is classic Diana Wynne Jones, and reminds me of why she was my favourite author as a child - and is still up there with the greats in my opinion now I'm an adult. Wynne Jones has that wonderful ability to make you care passionately about her characters within just a few pages. You're hooked from the very beginning, and this is a particularly page-turning story. I really enjoyed the descriptions of life as a servant in a big, traditional house, and the stuffiness of the establishment makes for many very funny moments. It's a lively, sparkling narrative, full of intrigue and action, and never dull. The protagonist, Conrad, is an instantly likable character, whilst the supercilious Christopher is just the right mixture of flaws and virtues. There's a host of fascinating and often amusing supporting characters as well.

Overall, it's a lighthearted story that is suitable for younger readers, but there are some real emotional undercurrents as well. Conrad's disinterested mother and his betrayal by those who are supposed to care for him echo similar themes in 'The Life of Christopher Chant' and 'Charmed Life'. There are also some subtle moments of irony that will be better appreciated by older readers. One is the scene where the butler excuses the bad behaviour of the heir and heirness of the manor due to their 'extreme youth' (twenties), all in the hearing of the much younger footmen (12 and 15) who are expected to work 18 hours a day and stand so still they are part of the furniture. Things do tie up neatly in the end, but I like that too about Wynne Jones' books - maybe it's not lifelike, but at least you don't get left frustrated by loose ends.

Whilst this book is part of the 'Chrestomanci series', it can be enjoyed without having read any of the others. The series is non-chronological anyway, so although this is the sixth to be published, the events are actually chronologically second. If you had a choice to read any of them first, then 'Lives of Christopher Chant' proceeds this one, and I suppose you could say there are some mild spoilers for that tale in this one.

I would highly recommend this, both as a children's book, and for adults who enjoy fantasy. Diana Wynne Jones' books are not the new Harry Potter. They preceeded Harry Potter by thirty years, and are in my opinion much much better. But if you enjoyed HP, you will almost certainly also like these.
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on 28 October 2006
I was begining to despair of ever finding any more books where magic doesn't simply involve waving a wand and saying some stupid made up word. A lot of people have said 'if you liked harry potter, try this!' but, as I have said before, as far as I'm concerned it's 'if you are bored of the mind numbingness of harry potter and you want a real fantasy book, try this!' And it is brilliant. If you haven't read any of the other Chrestomanci series you'll love the freshness of this book, the idea of probability changes and the english alps. And if you have been lucky enough to come across Diana before you will be delighted with the reaperance of old characters, seeing a certain person between childhood and adulthood, and of course the new characters which have all of Diana's usual depth, wit and something unique which only she manages to include. I guess you'll just have to read it to know what I mean.
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on 20 September 2013
Funny and entertaining and another insight into the world of Chrestomanci - as a long time fan of all the Chrestomanci books I can read these books over and over again and always find something new each time. Highly recommended for everybody.
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on 16 September 2014
Stumbled upon book 6 by chance (as wanted to put on Pinterest board )
excellent characters and plot , already own previous 5 , still to read book 7
Still debating to get the other series in book / kindle format
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on 14 June 2005
A hugely welcome return to Wynne-Jones's fabulous Christopher Chant - he and Millie are amongst my favourite of her creations. Some probably feel that the author is re-treading a lot of very familiar territory - parallel universes, layered happenings and dastardly plots - but that is why this is such a nice book: it's familiar and comforting like your favourite pudding. It loses a star only because the baddies aren't quite bad enough - but I do have an insatiable appetite for her books.
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on 6 October 2009
Conrad's Fate is another wonderfully intriguing instalment from the
Diana Wynne Jones Chrestomanci Series. We recommend it for both children & adults.
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