The Chrestomanci Quartet
by Diana Wynne Jones
The four Chrestomanci novels are set in a sort of parallel world where there isn't quite as much technological advancement as in ours. For instance, only the very rich drive automobiles, and no one has even heard of airplanes. There are also differences in history (the French won at Agincourt, and the King of England is called Charles VII-there were no Georges), as well as geography (America is called Atlantis and ruled by the Incas; Italy is still divided into independent duchies). There is a great deal more magic in this world than in ours, with wizards and necromancers and enchanters and sorcerers and warlocks and witches and all the rest-though not as much as in other worlds; it doesn't have elves or dragons or such like.
The common link between the four stories is the enchanter known as Chrestomanci, which is a title, rather than a name. Chrestomanci lives in a beautiful castle, and is employed by the government to protect the "multiverse" from the misuse of magic. Among the rare powers that fits him for his job, is that he possesses nine lives, because in the ninefold worlds of his particular chain of worlds, he has no parallel self as most people do. In the four Chrestomanci books, this special enchanter is confronted with a variety of challenges to the magical status quo: such as an overambitious young witch, a feud between rival houses of spellmakers, a ring of magical smugglers, and an impossible world in which almost everyone is a witch but, at the same time, all witches are required by law to be burned.
The four books, which you can enjoy in any order, are called Charmed Life (1977), The Magicians of Caprona (1980), Witch Week (1982), and The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988).
Recommended Age: 10+
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