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The Islands of Chaldea Hardcover – 22 Apr 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books (22 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062295071
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062295071
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 3 x 21 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,312,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"The best children's writer of the last 40 years."--Neil Gaiman, author of Coraline

Praise for Earwig and the Witch: "This funny story updates fairy tale conventions while highlighting Jones's subversive wit. ... A fine introduction to the author's more complex YA novels."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Earwig is a plucky, albeit bossy, heroine, and the story is packed with wit and humor."--School Library Journal

"Readers are treated to a nonstop plot, memorable characters, and signature DWJ touches. ... For younger readers, a worthy introduction to the delights of the late, lamented master fantasist."--The Horn Book

"Only in an unorthodox children's book does a girl hope that she won't be ... taken away from the orphanage. But then, Earwig isn't your typical orphan. ... An amusing story in which it takes hard work as well as magic and cleverness to bring about a happy ending."--Booklist

"In the realm of other-world fantasy, this season's gem is the late Diana Wynne Jones's The Islands of Chaldea, completed by Ursula Jones. Humour, wisdom and inventive genius suffuse the tale . . . challenging readers' minds while creating a full world of sympathetic characters."--Toronto Star

"Beautiful and intricate...A strong, elegant fantasy [that] will linger with readers."--Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

From the Back Cover

How are you supposed to turn into a Wise Woman if your powers don't show up?

Aileen comes from a long line of magicworkers. And her own gifts should have been even greater. But she failed her initiation so completely that she doubts she'll ever become as magical as her aunt Beck, the most powerful magicworker in Skarr.

So when the High King sends Aileen and Aunt Beck on a secret--and suspicious--quest across all the Islands of Chaldea, Aileen worries she'll only be in the way.

Hmmm, as Aunt Beck would say. What blather.

The quest is not at all what it seems, and Aileen must puzzle out her own way after Aunt Beck angers another formidable sorceress. With the help of a (mostly) invisible cat, a (surprisingly) wise parrot, and a ragtag band of allies, Aileen will see her magic bloom. And while she's at it, she might even rescue her missing father and save a lost prince.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought this was an excellent addition to the Diana Wynne Jones canon. It is sad that she didn't live long enough to finish it herself but her sister did an excellent job of completing it, and the touching explanation she provided at the end was interesting and poignant. I certainly couldn't see the 'join'. It makes me think that her sister should write novels too! What a gifted family!

The story is interesting, with vivid characters, imaginative ideas, the typical Wynne Jones romance, and her characteristic combination of real-life and fantasy, the mundane and the fantastic. Highly recommended to all fans.
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Format: Hardcover
Much of this is fine. I was worried that the difference between Diana's own writing and that of her sister, who completed it after Diana's death, would obtrude, but I really couldn't see the join. Ultimately, though, as with most of her last few books, it doesn't even approach the standard of the classic DWJs: it takes a long time to get to its destination, and then, after a brief bit of suspense, finishes. Worth reading, but (unless, like me, you're a DWJ completist) probably not paying a great deal to read. It's more Pinhoe Egg than Hexwood.
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Format: Hardcover
The late Diana Wynne Jones would have been 80 this year if she had been still with us. As always with posthumous novels the worry is, will this work be up to her usual standard, or will disappointment cloud the reputation that she painstakingly established for herself?

We find ourselves in on an alternate Earth, one of the author’s Related Worlds which are similar to but not the same as our own, chiefly because magic is always prevalent. The Islands of Chaldea (the real Mesopotamian polity of Chaldea was famed for its magicians) are Skarr, Bernica, Gallis and Logra, loosely based on Scotland, Ireland, Wales and England. The four countries, as well as being separated from each other by water, are further divided by a magical barrier that has for some years closed Logra off from the other three islands. On Skarr lives Aileen, a potential young Wise Woman who despairs of inheriting the talents that she is supposed to develop. Unexpectedly she is sent, with her Aunt Beck, idle princeling Ivar and servant Ogo, on a journey to Logra via Bernica and Gallis, to help resolve the situation and to fulfil a prophecy. We sense the classic premise of the lowliest achieving greatness through discovering and using innate gifts and skills.

Aileen, with green eyes and hair "the colour of toffee", is also the narrator, diminutive in stature but growing in maturity. She describes how she is sent with some odd companions and a disreputable crew to achieve an ill-defined quest, in which barriers galore -- and not just the magical one -- are placed in the way of success. First they arrive on the tiny island called Lone, where they encounter a rather peculiar creature.
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By D. Harris TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 27 Feb. 2014
Format: Hardcover
It was good to hear that Diana Wynne Jones had left another book, albeit uncompleted, when she died. And this one is excellent. it was finished by her sister, but it isn't obvious where one writer left off and the other took over - and by "not obvious" I mean, of course, "I couldn't tell".

So we get a breakneck adventure, as trainee Wise Woman Aileen (who has just failed her initiation) leaves her northern, mountainous island to try and lift a curse that has divided it from the neighbouring land of Logra. The four nations of Logra, Skarr, Bernica and Gallis, through which Aileen must travel, bear a suggestive likeness to England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales - but they are magical lands, filled with mysterious Guardians, drunken, spell casting queens and beautiful singers. Aileen copes, of course, with the madness and keeps her band of friends together until the final confrontation.

A high readable, funny, inventive and joy-filled book, this is a great memorial to Wynne Jones's long writing career. Great fun.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a long time lover of all things Diana Wynne Jones and her death left me longing for more. This gap has been admirably and gloriously filled by her sister finishing The Islands of Chaldea which left me wishing for more unfinished manuscripts.
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A fascinating adventure with many twists and turns, and tantalising hints of links to the countries of Britain in the names, characters and some national characteristics, and yet very different. While there were predictable clues to some plot elements, the conclusion was unexpected and yet satisfying.

I truly enjoyed this, and am only sorry that it is the last by one of my favourite authors, and that there will be no more.
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By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 11 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover
When Diana Wynne-Jones passed away in 2011, she left behind a partly-finished book. It was left up to her sister Ursula to complete it.

And so the world receives the final enchanting novel by this wildly underrated author -- "The Islands of Chaldea," a clever and magical adventure across an alternate version of the British Isles. It's literally impossible to tell where Ursula worked on this book, because it seems so typical of her sister's style: cats, spells, domineering older relatives and strange conspiracies.

Years ago, magicians sealed off the land of Logra from the rest of the world, and somebody kidnapped the crown prince Alasdair. Now there is a prophecy making the rounds that if a wise woman travels through certain countries, with a man of each country, she will be able to make it into Logra. So the High King enlists wise woman Aunt Beck and wise-woman-in-training Aileen to make the journey.

And to represent the various lands, they have bratty Prince Ivar (whom Aileen wants to marry), despised orphan Ogo, and green monk Finn (who is the keeper of an oracular bird). Oh, and Plug-Ugly, a magical cat who develops a fondness for Aileen.

Unfortunately, a drunken queen casts a botched spell on Aunt Beck, which leaves the whole disastrous quest in Aileen's hands. But reaching Logra turns out to be the least of her problems -- because once their little gang gets past the barrier, they find themselves neck-deep in a deadly Logran conspiracy. To save them all, Aileen will have to summon all her knowledge of magic to save the day.

There's a bittersweet feel to "The Islands of Chaldea" that has nothing to do with the book itself, and everything to do with...
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