The Chrestomanci (pronounced /ˈkrɛstəmænsi/) series is a children's fantasy series by Diana Wynne Jones. The word "Chrestomanci" may be derived from the Greek khrestos, meaning "useful," and -mancy, "divination."
Chrestomanci is the title of a powerful enchanter with the responsibility of regulating magic usage in a set of parallel universes. The Chrestomancis are unique in that they have nine lives; this is because, while most people in the world of Chrestomanci have spiritual doubles among eight other worlds, a potential Chrestomanci has no doubles. It is a government job, and each Chrestomanci is responsible for locating and training his or her successor.
The main series includes six novels and several short stories. In order of internal chronology, they are:
- The Lives of Christopher Chant (published 1988)
- Conrad's Fate (2005)
- Charmed Life (1977)
- The Magicians of Caprona (1980)
- "Stealer of Souls" (short story, published in Mixed Magics)
- "Carol Oneir's Hundredth Dream" (short story, published in Mixed Magics)
- The Pinhoe Egg (2006)
In addition, there are some members of the series which cannot be placed exactly, although they are set in the same general era as Charmed Life:
- "The Sage of Theare" (short story, reprinted in Mixed Magics and first published in 1982 by DAW Book's Hecate's Cauldron)
- Witch Week (1982 novel, set after Charmed Life)
- "Warlock at the Wheel" (short story, set after Charmed Life and published in Mixed Magics).
All Chrestomancis must have, or have had, nine lives. Merely calling out "Chrestomanci" will cause the current Chrestomanci to appear, whether he wants to or not, anywhere on his own world. It is implied in Witch Week that saying his name three times will summon him on any world. Once called, a Chrestomanci will attempt to solve any urgent magical dilemma, either out of obligation or natural inclination.
As enchanters, Chrestomancis are among the strongest magic-users in their world. The two featured Chrestomanci in the series have serious magical weaknesses; whether this is a result of their magical strength or a coincidence is unknown. In Christopher Chant's case, this weakness is silver: he cannot work magic while silver is on his person or while being touched by silver; he is also unable to work magic directly on silver. Eric "Cat" Chant's weakness is that he must work magic through his left hand; his right hand cannot work magic.
The seat of office is Chrestomanci Castle, a fortress of magic staffed by civil servants and occupied by the current enchanter and his family. This castle can be used as both a government office and a private dwelling, as well as a school for Chrestomanci's children and wards. Most people find the atmosphere of the castle disconcerting, but the Chrestomanci does not seem to notice.
Benjamin Allworthy is the earliest named Chrestomanci, followed by Gabriel de Witt and his successor, Christopher Chant.
Gabriel de Witt appears in The Lives of Christopher Chant, Conrad's Fate, and Stealer of Souls. Christopher Chant became Chrestomanci after Gabriel retired.
Christopher Chant appears in all of the books in the Chrestomanci series. He is the current occupant of the post. He takes great pains with his clothes, and is often found in either his impeccable dove-gray suit or one of many elaborately embroidered dressing gowns. He is often described as dreamy or vague, but these are also the times when he is most perceptive. He currently has two lives remaining, one of which is in a gold engagement ring worn by his wife, Millie.
Eric "Cat" Chant appears in Charmed Life, Mixed Magics, and The Pinhoe Egg. He is in training to become the next Chrestomanci. He is a seemingly ordinary boy, with interests similar to most boys his age. Cat currently has three lives remaining; his nickname was coined by his older sister when she found out he had nine lives.
Books by Diana Wynne Jones SeriesChrestomanci seriesCharmed Life · The Lives of Christopher Chant · The Magicians of Caprona · Witch Week · Conrad's Fate · The Pinhoe Egg · Mixed MagicsWizard's CastleDerkholmMagids OtherArcher's Goon · Dogsbody · Eight Days of Luke · Enchanted Glass · Fire and Hemlock · Hexwood · The Homeward Bounders · The Ogre Downstairs · Power of Three · A Tale of Time City · Time of the Ghost · more…Categories:
- Juvenile series
- Novels by Diana Wynne Jones
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