The Lives of Christopher Chant is the second book (first chronologically) in the Chronicles of Chrestomanci by Diana Wynne Jones. It was published in 1988 by Greenwillow.
“Christopher often makes night-time trips to the Twelve Related Worlds. He thought there was nothing unusual about this until his Uncle Ralph hears of it and sends him on mysterious missions. One such mission reveals Christopher’s very special magic powers—gifted with nine lives, he is destined to become the next Chrestomanci, the greatest magician in the country. Christopher goes to study at the formidable Chrestomanci Castle, but even here he is not safe. Outside, the forces of evil are poised for attack and Christopher is losing his lives at an alarming rate. Can Christopher defeat his enemies alone, before his remaining lives run out?”
What I Liked:
Here’s the backstory to the Chrestomanci in Charmed Life! This book has the origin of his vague looks, the infamous “I took the roof off the house” story from Charmed Life, how he got to Chrestomanci Castle, and how he met Millie. It’s really interesting reading how they meet since you know that in Charmed Life they’re married.
Christopher has a lot of development in this book. He starts out as a little hard to like because of his attitude, but by the end he’s made several realizations and it really shows in his actions and attitudes towards other people. Speaking of the other people, I find it a little sad that they never show up again in the next books (unless I’ve forgotten something). The entire staff has been changed in Charmed Life, and so we don’t really know what happens to Tacroy and the rest. It’s a little sad, but inevitable, I suppose.
Millie is really interesting. Her character as a young girl and her character as an adult are really quite different. Or maybe that’s because we don’t actually see too much of her as an adult. She seems a lot more outspoken and forceful in this book. Her background is really interesting, too.
We don’t see Throgmorten again, either. Sad.
I wonder if it’s ever explained where Christopher got his taste for clothes (Maybe in Conrad’s Fate, the sequel)?
Wow, Christopher loses a lot of lives. In fact, he loses almost all of his lives in the span of, what, a month? He loses three right in a row in the Castle. And then for the next twenty-five years, he loses none, because he still has two in Charmed Life. That…pretty much explains his character development right there, honestly.
What I Didn’t Like:
Christopher is not nearly as endearing a protagonist as Cat is. He’s a bit reckless, a bit proud, and a bit uncaring at the beginning. He’s not that likeable. However, his development is fabulous.
“Who are you?” said a voice from the darkness. It sounded surprised and haughty. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
“Who are you?” Christopher said cautiously, wishing he could see something beside blue and green dazzle.
“I’m the Goddess of course,” said the voice. “The Living Asheth. What are you doing here? I’m not supposed to see anyone but priestesses until the Day of the Festival.”
“I only came to get a cat,” said Christopher. “I’ll go away when I have.”
“You’re not allowed to,” said the Goddess. “Cats are sacred to Asheth. Besides, if it’s Bethi you’re after, she’s mine, and she’s going to have kittens again.”
Everything in the room went upwards except Christopher, the mirror, the tiepin, the tooth-brace and the money. Those slid to the floor as the table surged upwards, but were collected by the carpet which came billowing up after it. Christopher hastily stepped off the carpet and stood watching everything soar around him—all the clocks, several tables, chairs, rugs, pictures, vases, ornaments, and Dr. Pawson too. He and his armchair both went up, majestically, like a balloon, and bumped against the ceiling. The ceiling bellied upwards and the chandelier plastered itself sideways against it. From above came crashing, shrieks, and an immense airy grinding. Christopher could feel that the roof of the house had come off and was on its way to the sky, pursued by the attics. It was an incredible feeling.
Recommended Age Range: 12+
Genre: Fantasy, Middle Grade
The Lives of Christopher Chant is not as good as Charmed Life, but it is great background and really goes in-depth into the other worlds that were introduced in the first book. Christopher has really great character development, and you would never expect how he meets Millie. The humor and such is still there, and there are some interesting moral dilemmas that take place. I feel a bit sad that most of the characters never appear again, though.
You can buy this book here: The Lives of Christopher Chant
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