Time got away from me (clearly! XD), but it’s time to look back at the Diana Wynne Jones and Pratchett related goodness I got up to in March — and, actually, April as well!
I didn’t manage to finish up my March Magics goals during the month since I got crazy busy, so I carried on a bit of the reading in April, which was rather nice, actually. And now that I’m trying to ease back into blogging, I shall recap.
Diana Wynne Jones
- Samantha’s Diary by Diana Wynne Jones (short story in Stories: All-New Tales, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio) — I didn’t expect much from this but ended up finding it to be a total blast! I found the book on Scribd, which was handy as I have a subscription there (referral link if anyone’s interested), and it was neat to be able to just pull up the ebook and read that one story. I don’t want to spoil anything because part of the fun is discovering what’s going on as you read through it (and my favorite quotes from it that I want to share are definitely spoilers), but it’s a Christmas story set in futuristic London and it’s hilarious. XD Recommend!
- Everard’s Ride collection by Diana Wynne Jones
- The True State of Affairs (novella in Everard’s Ride and also in Minor Arcana) — I was nervous about this one (and with good reason) after seeing mixed reviews on it. It was gripping and unique and far more intriguing than a story about someone trapped in a tower reasonably ought to be. But most of the characters were difficult to like, the content was far more adult than DWJ usually wrote, and I was not a fan of the ending at all! So I’m torn, because it was fascinating and extremely vivid, and a clever idea, but a lot of it just felt very bleak and then the ending sort of ruined any of the fun I had. I found out, after reading it, that DWJ wrote about the story in the introduction to the other anthology it was collected in (Minor Arcana; Everard’s Ride’s collection which I read it in, had a lovely introduction by Patricia C. Wrede!). And that in that introduction, DWJ explains the story came from an idea she had to explore another angle of an actual historical event with actual people, which actually gives away the rather meh ending right there in the introduction. So I can’t decide whether I’m glad I experienced the story without knowing the ending, or whether I would’ve braced myself for it better if I’d read that introduction before. In any case, I don’t exactly recommend it, unless one is a total completionist, but I’m glad that I did at last read it, and it was definitely fascinating and I liked aspects of it, it was just…darker and more adult than I’d like, and with a lot of unlikeable characters and a depressing ending. But now I know! XD And at least Samantha’s Diary was a fun read, so those were my last two short stories by DWJ that I had on my list to read.
- other short stories in the collection — These were rereads, and like I thought I remembered, they are hit or miss like many short stories are for me, but definitely all vivid and gripping. My favorites are definitely No One (what an enjoyable sci-fi tale about a robot butler! And the bit about the clothes-washer with the laundry and the socks! Pure hilarious brilliance! XD) and Dragon Reserve, Home Eight which was intriguing if a little grim at times.
- I did not actually re-read Everard’s Ride, the novella itself, as I ran out of time, but I remember enjoying it the first time, years ago, and hope to revisit it sometime.
- The Dalemark Quartet by Diana Wynne Jones — (If the following wall of text is too daunting, skip to the small review at the end of this bullet list. XD) It was SO NICE rediscovering reading for fun after a long reading slump (helped by this series), and experiencing the world of Dalemark all over again. I seem to read this series every 4.5 years (not planned. XD) and I’m still all :O about a lot of the twists which still surprise me on my third read. Only Diana Wynne Jones can do that to me. XD Especially loved reading The Crown of Dalemark, which is my favorite and really ties the whole series together and is mind-blowing and brilliant! *flailing* This series is worth reading just for that book because the way it weaves together the threads of the three previously not-very connected books, and all in a mind-bending timey-wimey way? SHEER GENIUS. Not going to do super book-specific thoughts on it, so just a few general things, but the world of Dalemark is unique and I love how it combines medieval-type fantasy with beginnings of muskets and industrial revolution, while also having a prehistoric-type prequel, and then all the way to their own modern times — modern-day fantasy world is something that is tragically underused, as is time-travel in a fantasy world, and that was just incredible. Plus, following different characters and also traveling so much in each of the books (by cart, by ship at sea, by boat on river, by horse on the Green Roads). The result is this wide-ranging epic that gives a glimpse at hundreds of years of history of many different locales, while still being the story of specific people and how their stories intertwine and echo through history. The muskets and time-travel, woven in with fantasy elements of clever, subtle magic, and the occasional immortal character, was all masterfully interwoven. And the characters are all so vivid and I love so many of them so fiercely! Even ones I didn’t know I’d like at first! Mitt and Navis have to be my top favorites, I think, but Kialan and Moril and others are also fabulous. I just love them so much! There’s a slight wistfulness to the series that’s a little hard to explain — not tragic, really, though there are a few darker moments than in many of her later works, but just this almost melancholy strain of time and immortality and mortality and very real struggles of peoples and earldoms — and yet there are rolicking fun times and banter and tight-knit friendships even in spite of former enmity at times. And all with the vivid ALIVENESS that DWJ’s books often bring of characters who will throw themselves wholeheartedly into things. The ending still absolutely GETS me and leaves me jittery with OH MY GOODNESS feelings and delights and also makes me want another several chapters if not another book. As DWJ books often do. XD Anyway, it was a sheer delight returning to this series, and although it’s not one that every reader will enjoy, I’m certainly one of the readers who does, immensely. ❤ (I left a few more thoughts on the series later in the post under the Dalemark pic I posted down there.)
- Cart and Cwidder
- Drowned Ammet
- The Spellcoats
- The Crown of Dalemark
- The small review I left on Goodreads upon finishing: I love this series a lot. It’s odd and not for everyone I suppose, but definitely a favorite of mine, particularly several of the characters, the depth of history/world, and the way each book is so different than the others but all come together masterfully in the fourth one. Flaming Ammet but it’s majestic! Three reads and I’m still catching so many new, deeper meanings and connections. It’s so complex and layered, woven together with so many threads. I’m delighted to have this collection with what I consider to be the definitive cover. *hugs book* Each time I read this series I find myself wandering around a bit dreamy like Moril, during and after reading it, lost still on Dalemark’s Green Roads of the Undying (or maybe the Wind’s Road… or the River…), following Mitt, Navis, Kialan, Wend, Moril, Tanaqui, Maewen, and the others. “Who will ride the King’s Way, the King’s Way? Who will ride the royal road and follow with the King?”
- Films inspired by books by Diana Wynne Jones
- Archer’s Goon — This was a super old BBC mini-series from the ’90s that I discovered a few years back and it is rather cheesy but otherwise a lot of fun just to see a neat book (Archer’s Goon — the book is better but still!) come to life on the screen in some way, remarkably true to the book in many ways. And they’re so terribly British and it’s fantastic. XD I also ended up liking Quentin’s character more on the screen than in the book, oddly. This was a fun re-watch.
- Howl’s Moving Castle — Of course I had to re-watch this one. 😉 I still noticed things I hadn’t caught before, even after watching it so many times! The book is still my favorite but the movie is just so relaxing and cozy and it makes me happy in its own separate way! It was a treat to revisit during March Magics. ^_^ And the music and scenery! And Howl. And just all of it!
- Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett — This was quite unique and I enjoyed listening to the audiobook! I still think the first Tiffany Aching book (The Wee Free Men) is my favorite in this Discworld subseries, but I did like this one more than the second one I think. The concept was fascinating, at least. But mostly, I’m here for the Feegles and their hilarious dialogue and delightful Scottish accents. XD I feel like there was a bit more of them in the first which may be why I loved that more, but this was a fun time and, like I said, unique, with sentient winter and so on. ALSO THIS IS RANDOM BUT I ADORED THE MUSIC FOR THE SECTION BREAKS IN THE AUDIOBOOK VERSION. *cries* The music was just so lovely and whimsical and enchanting and SNOW LIKE and I adored it despite how brief those clips were and could’ve listened to it forever. Ahem. Carry on. This wasn’t, by the way, on my original list of things I wanted to read in March! But I ended up needing an audiobook to listen to and picked this one on Scribd and had a blast. 🙂
- The Color of Magic (film) — This TV movie was a blast! I enjoy the fact that there are a few Discworld film adaptions out there and this one was a lot of fun. I haven’t actually read the books it’s based on (The Color of Magic and The Light Fantastic) yet (I know! I’m a bad bookworm!) but I wanted something new to watch for March Magics and this one was a nice one to try. I’m also fairly certain there was a Po-ta-toes reference since it has Sean Astin in it. XD It was…odd — unsurprisingly, because Discworld — but a lot of fun and I definitely enjoyed myself. 🙂 Still prefer Going Postal, but still!
- I did not actually manage to read a City Watch book! I can’t believe I did this AGAIN where I planned to and got distracted with a different series, but apparently Pratchetts are just unexpected. XD I will definitely work on the City Watch series again at some point, but I enjoyed Wintersmith and it was just a more convenient format (audiobook) since my physical reading was very focused on Dalemark. I’m sure Sam Vimes will wait patiently until I can get to his next book, hopefully sooner rather than later.
I wanted to collect some favorite quotes as I read, but I’m afraid the only ones I did it for before being too absorbed in the stories to actually try, was Cart and Cwidder, The Spellcoats, and Samantha’s Diary. The latter of which, the quotes are spoilers. XD
Here are some of my favorite quotes from Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones.
- You had to stand up and come straight out with it. “This is true,” you had to say. “This is the truth. And, though I may not get it over very well, it just is.” And it was horribly difficult to do.
- The thing about Kialan, he thought as he raced for the cart, was that he had brains.
- That kind of dream was not true. There were true dreams, but they had to be part of life as well, just as life, to be good, had to embody dreams, or a good song had to have an idea to it.
- If you stood up and told the truth in the wrong way, it was not true any longer, though it might be as powerful as ever.
- When he sang, you forgot it was Hestefan singing and thought only of the song. Moril was impressed. Then Hestefan told a story. It was one Moril did not know. And while Hestefan was telling it, he found he forgot who was telling it and simply lived in the story. Moril realized he still had a lot to learn.
- Everyone had to do things their own way.
And from The Spellcoats:
“These,” Hern said, “are the bodies of two kings. They were killed in senseless hatred, when both had lost nearly all they had. Someone is coming up the River who knows of this, and it pleases him very much. This will make it easy for him to suck out our souls, and the soul of this land, and rule us as his slaves.”The Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones
“And you call yourself a god!”The Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones
Tanamil fetched himself up onto one elbow and said, very earnestly, a very strange thing. “I never called myself that,” he said. “Neither I nor any of the Undying ever made that claim. It is a claim men made for us, and that is how we came to be bound.”
“Mallard, can you make nets?”The Spellcoats by Diana Wynne Jones
“I made the best nets in Shelling,” Duck said. Nothing will ever make Duck modest, but he does make good nets.
And from The Crown of Dalemark, because I had to. XD (This was a quote that was so vivid, it rattled around in my brain for years after reading it but I’d forgotten where it was from so when I re-discovered it on a re-read it was like a massive lightbulb moment of OH THAT’S WHERE THAT QUOTE WAS FROM!)
“All these years I thought [*massive spoiler*]”The Crown of Dalemark
“Of all the idiots!” Mitt answered. “There were several hundred people you could have asked!”
Pics and Posts
- I had posted a few #MarchMagics pics on Instagram during the month, a couple of which were also in my March Magics plans blog post.
- It was my 11-year anniversary of reading Howl’s Moving Castle for the first time and I celebrated with this photo of my HMC editions!
- And this photo went up in April when I was still reading The Crown of Dalemark. This is one of my favorite books I own! Look at that purple! The sword! The cup! It’s a UK edition I found at Half Price Books once and it’s gorgeous. The Dalemark Quartet anthology with all four books in it, also in the photo, is the definitive version for me though. I love that it has the four main characters from the four books on the cover and it’s so THEM! (Moril with his cwidder, Tanaqui with her bushy hair and rug-coat, Mitt looking slightly shifty/sulky. XD And Maewen with her horse.) Also, the fact that the books are all in one volume like that and I can flip to the end to reference the awesome Guide to Dalemark which has names and places and extra tidbits of history and current/future events. It’s so cool!
And that’s it on my March Magics adventures, extending into April as well. So, so grateful to Kristen M. at We Be Reading for hosting this last hurrah and for creating this celebration in the first place! It’s been a lovely, lovely time.
Even if there aren’t official March Magics in the future (unless somebody else takes over hosting!), I may still revisit DWJ and/or Pratchett in future Marches… we’ll see.
Meantime, this one was an absolutely lovely time and was a highlight of my spring. ^_^
Whew! A virtual cupcake for anyone who read that!
Thanks for reading my wrapup! And let me know in a comment if you’ve read/watched any of these, or any Pratchett or Diana Wynne Jones books recently!