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His father and uncles are enchanters, his mother a powerful sorceress, yet nothing seems magical about Christopher Chant except his dreams. Night after night, he climbs through the formless Place Between and visits marvelous lands he calls the Almost Anywheres. Then Christopher discovers that he can bring real, solid things back from his dreams. Others begin to recognize the extent of his powers, and they issue an order that turns Christopher's life upside down: Go to Chrestomanci Castle to train to be the controller of all the world's magic.

The Lives of Christopher Chant is the adventure-filled story of the boyhood of Chretomanci, the famous magician who also appears in Charmed Life, Witch Week, and The Magicians of Caprona.

Topics: Witches

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061756818
List price: $9.99
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Fun and easy to read. Pretty sure I didn't read this, the first time, so, hm. Maybe I only read the first book, when I was younger. In any case, it's best to read this after Charmed Life, otherwise it would give the game away with some of what happens in Charmed Life.

Christopher Chant isn't the pleasantest kid to read about, if you're reading in an aware sort of way and you know some things about the world -- e.g. dragon blood -- but at the same time, you get sucked into what he's doing. And it's lovely when he starts to develop -- because he does develop -- and becomes more self-aware. Millie/the Goddess is a fun character, too, and I kind of identify with her obsession with school novels... as a kid, I ate 'em up. I'd still like to get hold of the Chalet School books, someday... But my favourite character, somehow, is Tacroy, who still manages to be a decent kind of guy, despite everything.

The only quibble is how neatly and quickly it all ties up at the end. It felt rather abrupt, and just... too neat.more
Everyone knows the story – how Christopher dreams himself into other worlds, meets a Living Goddess, discovers the worlds are real, almost gets sidelined into a boys' school story, cricket and all, starts to learn magic, finds out he's been unknowingly aiding a group of criminals, gets found out, but saves the day – yes? If not, then the books are all in print and ready and waiting for you. You won't regret it.more
This Diana Wynne Jones book has an intriguing title: we are used to The Lives of the Caesars (where more than one person is involved) or, on the other extreme, The Life of Brian (which is about just one person). The Lives of Christopher Chant reflects the notion that one person can have, like a cat, more than one life. This notion is an old one, from the transmigration of the soul to the Russian folk-villain Koshchei, whose external soul is hidden away in one object enclosed within another, and so on; most recently the concept has become familiar from the Horcruxes within which Harry Potter's nemesis hides pieces of his soul, but The Lives of Christopher Chant just predates Rowling's series.Christopher Chant's ownership of nine lives makes him something special in the world into which he is born, but it is a destiny which he is reluctant to inherit. He discovers he is a nine-lifed enchanter, with the ability to move between parallel universes (Related Worlds in the terminology of the book). Like many another Chosen One he finds he is a de facto orphan (his parents show little interest in or care for him, rather like Diana's own parents) but also that the fate of the established order is threatened unless he can assume his responsibilities (when all he wants to do is to have friends of his own age and to play cricket). What child really wants to have responsibilities, let alone their world's future fate, resting on their shoulders?Christopher's response is, of course, to eventually respond appropriately, though his sudden maturity and ability to command after a long period of petulance is the only weak point in the plotting. Other than that this is a wonderfully engrossing read, shot through with humour, memorable characters and, yes, intimations of mortality, set in a period with a late Victorian feel but which is obviously contemporary with our own world in the late 20th century (when Christopher briefly visits it and finds himself caught up in the horror of modern traffic). Concepts, puns, childish whimsies, fairy-tales, observations on the absurdities of social conventions, these and other archetypal Jones motifs appear in their usual profusion to make this simultaneously an easy read but one which remains in the memory.more
A thoroughly enjoyable book! I am reading them in the order that Diana Wynne Jones recommended which is: Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Conrad's Fate, Witch Week, The Magicians of Caprona and the Pinhoe Egg. I liked this one better than Charmed Life. Somehow it held together better. The characters fit together and played off each other in a more believable way. It makes me want to read more in the series.more
I liked this one a lot more than I expected to! I'd only read two other of Jones' books before tackling this one, so I wasn't sure how this one would go... but I couldn't put it down.I haven't read any other books in the Chrestomanci series, so I can't say how it compares to those, but I found the characters of Christopher, the Goddess, and the cat both interesting and compelling -- I liked the banter between Christopher and the Goddess, and it was refreshing to see both of them assert such fierce independence, rather than having one of the characters lean on the other.The concept of the "Anywheres" and how they worked was also very interesting, but I did find myself wishing for more information on the worlds and the significance of each of them. I assume this is something addressed throughout the rest of the series -- which I do plan to read. As I'd rather not give a synopsis, if you'd like to read more about the book, please visit the Amazon page. Otherwise, know that it's a well-crafted, humorous, and fun novel with strong characters and an intriguing setup of various 'worlds' that the characters visit. Naturally, trouble comes from visiting these places, and that's where the fun really begins.Even if you don't want to start a new series, you can at least read this one as it stands on its own -- and it's worth the time spent!more
If the Chrestomanci series was a teensy little bit blah up to now, this book turns it around. It is like Charmed Life in that it is the story of a boy discovering he has nine lives and is a powerful enchanter, heir to the Chrestomanci title - but it has much more depth and interest right from the start, and a striking cast of characters. My favourite is Throgmorton.(If I wanted someone to like Diana Wynne Jones, I would have them start with this book and catch up with the earlier ones afterwards!)more
Wow, this was an excellent book. Christopher Chant is a little boy with nine lives. Because of his nine lives he can travel effortlessly between the Related (and many unrelated) Worlds, and he also happens to be a powerful sorcerer. In spite of his power, however, Christopher's life is constrained by the people around him, all of whom seem to want to manipulate him to some purpose. There's his mother, who wants him to enter Society, his father, who seeks to live vicariously by making Christopher the next Chrestomanci, and his uncle, who manipulates Christopher into smuggling rare artifacts between the Worlds. As Christopher's choices are made for him, the only ones who understand are the Living Asheth, the girl vessel of a vengeful Goddess, and Throgmorton, an extremely grumpy temple cat. There's plenty of straightforward adventure in this book, as well as good coming of age story. Christopher and the people around him could sometimes be annoyingly dense about each other, but the thing that set this book apart was that, dense as he could be, everything about Christopher was explained. We see his development from the beginning and it's clear that, really, things couldn't have happened differently. And in spite of that, the book ends with an affirmation of choice over fate. And it works. This is definitely the best fantasy I've read in a long time, and I will definitely be following the rest of the series. Highly recommended!more
The author's pleasure in this book is almost tangible. Her idiosyncratic hero gets a back story that is of the same flavour as the books about the adult Chrestomanci. There is nothing complex here but the book is not mere fluff.more
This is a prequel to Charmed Life and is very similar. I rented this book several times from our local library, then one day saw it on their 'Books for Sale' trolley. So I just had to buy it! A bargain at 50p.more
Could Diana Wynne Jones and C.S Lewis have gotten along well? They do in my head--clear masters of the art of writing and magic and the human heart. Wynne is a gymnast-contortionist-illusionist of story and plot, and I suspect Neil Gaiman is her secret love child. She now joins the ranks of other writers that I harbor in my writer's mind, looking over my shoulder as I attempt my own fledgling spells. Read it!!!more
What delights me about Diana Wynne Jones is her exceptional bravery in making her protagonists unusual, even unappealing, which makes me root for them all the more. And her plots are never linear, never predictable. The Lives of Christopher Chant made me cringe now and then--the protagonist is put in danger repeatedly by adults he most trusts--and again this unsettling feeling of not being sure all would work out in the end is a highly unusual quality in a book written primarily for children. I enjoyed it a great deal.more
Read all 17 reviews

Reviews

Fun and easy to read. Pretty sure I didn't read this, the first time, so, hm. Maybe I only read the first book, when I was younger. In any case, it's best to read this after Charmed Life, otherwise it would give the game away with some of what happens in Charmed Life.

Christopher Chant isn't the pleasantest kid to read about, if you're reading in an aware sort of way and you know some things about the world -- e.g. dragon blood -- but at the same time, you get sucked into what he's doing. And it's lovely when he starts to develop -- because he does develop -- and becomes more self-aware. Millie/the Goddess is a fun character, too, and I kind of identify with her obsession with school novels... as a kid, I ate 'em up. I'd still like to get hold of the Chalet School books, someday... But my favourite character, somehow, is Tacroy, who still manages to be a decent kind of guy, despite everything.

The only quibble is how neatly and quickly it all ties up at the end. It felt rather abrupt, and just... too neat.more
Everyone knows the story – how Christopher dreams himself into other worlds, meets a Living Goddess, discovers the worlds are real, almost gets sidelined into a boys' school story, cricket and all, starts to learn magic, finds out he's been unknowingly aiding a group of criminals, gets found out, but saves the day – yes? If not, then the books are all in print and ready and waiting for you. You won't regret it.more
This Diana Wynne Jones book has an intriguing title: we are used to The Lives of the Caesars (where more than one person is involved) or, on the other extreme, The Life of Brian (which is about just one person). The Lives of Christopher Chant reflects the notion that one person can have, like a cat, more than one life. This notion is an old one, from the transmigration of the soul to the Russian folk-villain Koshchei, whose external soul is hidden away in one object enclosed within another, and so on; most recently the concept has become familiar from the Horcruxes within which Harry Potter's nemesis hides pieces of his soul, but The Lives of Christopher Chant just predates Rowling's series.Christopher Chant's ownership of nine lives makes him something special in the world into which he is born, but it is a destiny which he is reluctant to inherit. He discovers he is a nine-lifed enchanter, with the ability to move between parallel universes (Related Worlds in the terminology of the book). Like many another Chosen One he finds he is a de facto orphan (his parents show little interest in or care for him, rather like Diana's own parents) but also that the fate of the established order is threatened unless he can assume his responsibilities (when all he wants to do is to have friends of his own age and to play cricket). What child really wants to have responsibilities, let alone their world's future fate, resting on their shoulders?Christopher's response is, of course, to eventually respond appropriately, though his sudden maturity and ability to command after a long period of petulance is the only weak point in the plotting. Other than that this is a wonderfully engrossing read, shot through with humour, memorable characters and, yes, intimations of mortality, set in a period with a late Victorian feel but which is obviously contemporary with our own world in the late 20th century (when Christopher briefly visits it and finds himself caught up in the horror of modern traffic). Concepts, puns, childish whimsies, fairy-tales, observations on the absurdities of social conventions, these and other archetypal Jones motifs appear in their usual profusion to make this simultaneously an easy read but one which remains in the memory.more
A thoroughly enjoyable book! I am reading them in the order that Diana Wynne Jones recommended which is: Charmed Life, The Lives of Christopher Chant, Conrad's Fate, Witch Week, The Magicians of Caprona and the Pinhoe Egg. I liked this one better than Charmed Life. Somehow it held together better. The characters fit together and played off each other in a more believable way. It makes me want to read more in the series.more
I liked this one a lot more than I expected to! I'd only read two other of Jones' books before tackling this one, so I wasn't sure how this one would go... but I couldn't put it down.I haven't read any other books in the Chrestomanci series, so I can't say how it compares to those, but I found the characters of Christopher, the Goddess, and the cat both interesting and compelling -- I liked the banter between Christopher and the Goddess, and it was refreshing to see both of them assert such fierce independence, rather than having one of the characters lean on the other.The concept of the "Anywheres" and how they worked was also very interesting, but I did find myself wishing for more information on the worlds and the significance of each of them. I assume this is something addressed throughout the rest of the series -- which I do plan to read. As I'd rather not give a synopsis, if you'd like to read more about the book, please visit the Amazon page. Otherwise, know that it's a well-crafted, humorous, and fun novel with strong characters and an intriguing setup of various 'worlds' that the characters visit. Naturally, trouble comes from visiting these places, and that's where the fun really begins.Even if you don't want to start a new series, you can at least read this one as it stands on its own -- and it's worth the time spent!more
If the Chrestomanci series was a teensy little bit blah up to now, this book turns it around. It is like Charmed Life in that it is the story of a boy discovering he has nine lives and is a powerful enchanter, heir to the Chrestomanci title - but it has much more depth and interest right from the start, and a striking cast of characters. My favourite is Throgmorton.(If I wanted someone to like Diana Wynne Jones, I would have them start with this book and catch up with the earlier ones afterwards!)more
Wow, this was an excellent book. Christopher Chant is a little boy with nine lives. Because of his nine lives he can travel effortlessly between the Related (and many unrelated) Worlds, and he also happens to be a powerful sorcerer. In spite of his power, however, Christopher's life is constrained by the people around him, all of whom seem to want to manipulate him to some purpose. There's his mother, who wants him to enter Society, his father, who seeks to live vicariously by making Christopher the next Chrestomanci, and his uncle, who manipulates Christopher into smuggling rare artifacts between the Worlds. As Christopher's choices are made for him, the only ones who understand are the Living Asheth, the girl vessel of a vengeful Goddess, and Throgmorton, an extremely grumpy temple cat. There's plenty of straightforward adventure in this book, as well as good coming of age story. Christopher and the people around him could sometimes be annoyingly dense about each other, but the thing that set this book apart was that, dense as he could be, everything about Christopher was explained. We see his development from the beginning and it's clear that, really, things couldn't have happened differently. And in spite of that, the book ends with an affirmation of choice over fate. And it works. This is definitely the best fantasy I've read in a long time, and I will definitely be following the rest of the series. Highly recommended!more
The author's pleasure in this book is almost tangible. Her idiosyncratic hero gets a back story that is of the same flavour as the books about the adult Chrestomanci. There is nothing complex here but the book is not mere fluff.more
This is a prequel to Charmed Life and is very similar. I rented this book several times from our local library, then one day saw it on their 'Books for Sale' trolley. So I just had to buy it! A bargain at 50p.more
Could Diana Wynne Jones and C.S Lewis have gotten along well? They do in my head--clear masters of the art of writing and magic and the human heart. Wynne is a gymnast-contortionist-illusionist of story and plot, and I suspect Neil Gaiman is her secret love child. She now joins the ranks of other writers that I harbor in my writer's mind, looking over my shoulder as I attempt my own fledgling spells. Read it!!!more
What delights me about Diana Wynne Jones is her exceptional bravery in making her protagonists unusual, even unappealing, which makes me root for them all the more. And her plots are never linear, never predictable. The Lives of Christopher Chant made me cringe now and then--the protagonist is put in danger repeatedly by adults he most trusts--and again this unsettling feeling of not being sure all would work out in the end is a highly unusual quality in a book written primarily for children. I enjoyed it a great deal.more
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