The Dalemark Quartet, part two

The Spellcoats
The Crown of Dalemark

by Diana Wynne Jones

Part one, Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet, {HERE}

The Spellcoats Again with the absolutely astoundingly gorgeous covers. This one is for The Spellcoats really, which makes me a bit sad. I want this style for all four!

Anyway. If the jump between Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet is disconcerting, the jump to The Spellcoats is even more so. Mitt and Moril might be only distantly aware of each other, but they are clearly in the same time. Tanaqui’s story clearly is not. In fact, it’s set in a sort of prehistoric Dalemark. Also, unlike the first two, it’s in first person. Told from the point of view of Tanaqui, second daughter and second youngest child of Closti the Clam, it follows Closti’s children on a voyage (literally) of discovery. I’ve said before that I think siblings are one of the things Diana Wynne Jones tends to get right and, in my opinion, she does it again here. The Spellcoats also introduces a very important character in the person of Kankredin, the villain.

I had forgotten just how confusing this sequence is. Nonetheless, I still maintain that reading the books in publication order rather than chronological order is the way to go. I think the confusion is part of it.

The Crown of Dalemark really doesn’t have a good cover, which is a pity.* This is the best I could do, and if I didn’t know any better I would guess it was supposed to be for Cart and Cwidder. Bah.

The Crown of Dalemark is where all the disparate threads start to finally come together. Mitt, Moril, a new character named Maewen, Navis, Ynen, Kialan–all of a sudden they reappear and their stories combine.** Maewen comes from Dalemark’s future, which looks suspiciously like our present. I love the way Jones frames the story within the idea of “history” suddenly coming out of the picture frames and textbooks and becoming real. I also love the fact that all of these characters don’t instantly get along. Even the ones we’ve (okay I’ve) liked right from the beginning. Some of the characters I’d grown to like in previous books suddenly aren’t as likable.

One of the threads I noticed running thoughout all four books is the theme of great epic*** adventures undertaken by very normal people who don’t seem to even notice anything being different. Well, that isn’t entirely accurate. They do notice things being different, but it’s always too late. Even Navis, who is an Earl’s son and quite impenetrable all through Drowned Ammet suddenly becomes human and rather nice in the last book.

Anyway, I’m quite satisfied, having finished the series and been pleased by the ending.

* I know all this discussion of covers might get boring/annoying. Sorry. When I love a book, I want it to have a good cover and all too many of them don’t.

** Several characters from The Spellcoats reappear as well, but I can’t tell you how or I’d spoil several bits.

*** And I mean it in its original sense, before it turned into a bit of annoying slang.

Book sources: Oregon State University and University of Oregon



Filed under bookish posts, reviews

5 responses to “The Dalemark Quartet, part two

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