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The Devil's Children (Changes Trilogy) Hardcover – 1 Jun 1986

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 187 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday; Reissue edition (Jun. 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385294492
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385294492
  • Product Dimensions: 23.6 x 15.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,111,971 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was the third (and final) installment of Peter Dickenson's novels about 'The Changes'. Written in 1970, it was made into a Radiophonic-Workshop-drenched BBC children's serial in 1975 (finally released on DVD in 2014) - and I have to confess I only tracked down a copy of the book, as an adult, after enjoying the DVD - but the book was aimed at 12 year olds, so I'm not exactly it's target audience!
I have to say I felt this book was the weakest of the 'trilogy' - the main problem being that it *isn't* really a trilogy, as each successive story is set *earlier* than the next - so you don't get successive and more exciting plot revelations about what's going on from book to book. This one heavily features a Sikh family who are demonized as 'The Devil's Children' as England sinks into agricultural depravity. This could have produced a nightmare of political incorrectness for a modern audience, but actually it's pretty much OK in that respect. Dickenson's prose is still on good form compared to the earlier books, but I didn't feel quite enough happened in this installment compared to the previous stories, and there wasn't so much of a denouement.
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Format: Paperback
Part of a trilogy about life in the England of the future - after some catastrophe (nuclear?) has resulted in life going backwards, pre- 'civilisation'. Machines are banned and any cars get pelted with stones. Rural life returns and feudal lords rule OK.

The heroine in this book is Nicky, a girl aged 12, who has been Badly treated by her parents and runs away to London, where she lives for a whole month and becomes hardened.

She takes up with a party of Sikhs - these are disliked by the people because they are foreign and pagan - so Nicky indentifies with their oppression.

They end up in a village under siege - because of the return to the feudal system, each man is out for himself, not seeking to contribute to the community. The logic of this leads to powerful robbers ganging up on villages. The Sikhs defend the village from attack - their religion has welded them together in such a way that they can fight well.

The Sikhs are accepted into the community after this - the vicar even preaches a sermon on 'The lion (from the Sikh name 'singh') shall lie down with the Lamb (a sheep is part of the crest of the village).

Nicky is persuaded to return home - her hardness was an advantage in this situation but if she is to build up lasting inner resources, she must return to childhood and dependency.

Good for encouraging thought about dependency, team work and Sikhism. Has some questionable value judgements, however, about what constitutes 'civilisation'.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel is the first (chronologically) in a trilogy that inspired a drama/SF TV series for children in 1975, The Changes. Images of people smashing machinery on TV made an impression on my 8 year old mind. But this novel is rather disappointing and the actual Changes that cause the people of Britain to trash their technology take place only in retrospect summary form in the preface. The novel itself is rather pedestrian though with some interesting and mature things to say about how the central character copes with the maelstrom that has engulfed her life.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars 5 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting jaunt into fantasy 26 Aug. 2004
By K. Calen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is a great diversion for a few days entertainment. I have never been a huge fan of fantasy, but I appreciated this novel and what it had to offer. First off, I'd like to say that the other review on this site is wrong. The synopsis is for the SECOND book in the series (Heartsease), and not "The Devil's Children."

This book begins in a cryptic manner, and intriguingly, ends that way, too. The beginning and end of this book were what held me, although the story within the pages is exciting and interesting as well.

The story revolves around young Nicola Gore, who has been separated from her family during the "Changes." The Changes is a vaguely described as a time when machinery must end because of the effect it has on English humans. England reverts to medieval times, employing the use of blacksmiths and the like, and ridding their world of all machinery like tractors, guns, and alarm clocks.

Nicola returns home to wait for her parents, but after 28 days, leaves with a traveling band of Sikhs. This book expands on her adventures with the new people and their trials and tribulations. It also deals with the pain of Nicky being separated from her family, putting up barriers around her heart, and learning to live independantly.

I won't give away the exciting points of the book. It will suffice to say that there are moments where the book gets gorey and viscious, but never to the point of needing to shield a young adult reader from the book.

Peter Dickinson is a delightful author. He writes incredibly well and I am very happy to have finally read one of his books. I intend to continue reading the series.

I would recommend this book for any younger reader interested in different ways of life. It is not fantasy like "The Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter." It is much more likely to happen than either of those. (Although both of the others are wonderful reads, as well.) Overall, I give this book 4 stars. It had moments of dead time that could have been more interesting.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A culture closing in on itself 12 Jan. 2011
By W. J. Peckham - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I read "The Devil's Children in an evening, and I am going to try to locate the other two books in the series as well. The setting is a twentieth century England where the English people have recently and mysteriously been afflicted by a loathing of --and a compulsion to destroy-- technology, as well a mild but increasing amnesia of any concepts or ideas that might involve thinking about a world removed from the immediate surroundings. "We have not talked to the village about this, but we think that all this island is closing in on itself." Young Nicky meets a large family of Sikhs (called "The Devil's Children" by some of the xenophobic English), some native to India and others born in England, who are apparently (and once again, mysteriously) immune to the madness. "She felt she ought to know about the war, and about Indians, just as she ought to have known about turbans, but she'd forgotten. She was irritated by being forced to recognize another of those moments when she saw or heard something which felt as though she'd dreamed it before, but had forgotten the dream." Adrift by herself, Nicky accompanies them for their mutual benefit, and the group copes with survival on a level beyond scavenging. While the point of the story is the irrational behavior brought about by the change, and there is some violence (as will happen in adventures), the tone of the writing is positive about people, over-all. It is not unduly gloomy for a young reader.
I wonder if the writer, Peter Dickinson, was observing anti-technological and isolationist tendencies in 1960's England, that inspired this series.
5.0 out of 5 stars what is civilisation? 6 May 2015
By Mr. D. P. Jay - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Part of a trilogy about life in the England of the future - after some catastrophe (nuclear?) has resulted in life going backwards, pre- 'civilisation'. Machines are banned and any cars get pelted with stones. Rural life returns and feudal lords rule OK.

The heroine in this book is Nicky, a girl aged 12, who has been Badly treated by her parents and runs away to London, where she lives for a whole month and becomes hardened.

She takes up with a party of Sikhs - these are disliked by the people because they are foreign and pagan - so Nicky indentifies with their oppression.

They end up in a village under siege - because of the return to the feudal system, each man is out for himself, not seeking to contribute to the community. The logic of this leads to powerful robbers ganging up on villages. The Sikhs defend the village from attack - their religion has welded them together in such a way that they can fight well.

The Sikhs are accepted into the community after this - the vicar even preaches a sermon on 'The lion (from the Sikh name 'singh') shall lie down with the Lamb (a sheep is part of the crest of the village).

Nicky is persuaded to return home - her hardness was an advantage in this situation but if she is to build up lasting inner resources, she must return to childhood and dependency.

Good for encouraging thought about dependency, team work and Sikhism. Has some questionable value judgements, however, about what constitutes 'civilisation'.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Good, like Dickinson's usual--about prejudice 3 Dec. 2012
By Lazy reviewer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is part of Dickinson's 'Changes' trilogy, but stands alone well, with the Changes being simply context. It is unusually good as a reflection [for young adult readers, mainly] about different styles and levels of racial/ethnic [and other] prejudice and, to a lesser extent, its overcoming. For various characters, the prejudice is deep-seated or peripheral, rooted in fear or power advantage or ideology or mental/social habit. It's interesting that many of the characters engage in practical interaction by strategically sidelining their prejudices, and that the main character acts pretty prejudice-free perhaps because she is explicitly emotionally crippled--allows for good psychological depth. A good novel for discussing prejudice in a, say, middle-school American classroom, partly because the focus of prejudice is a Sikh group in quasi-medieval Britain.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic fantasy suitable for all ages 8 Aug. 1997
By danz@innocent.com - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
The first book in The Changes Trilogy, The Devil's Children starts Margret and Jonathan's quest through a 'changed' England in which everyone, except a chosen few, is deathly and irrationally afraid of technology. Margret is one of the few who have noticed the changes and she must run or be executed as a witch. Her quest: to find out what went wrong, and a possible remedy
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