Lives of Christopher Chant (The Chrestomanci Series)

by Diana Wynne Jones

Paperback, 2008





Harpercollins (2008), Edition: New Ed


Young Christopher Chant, in training to become the next Chrestomanci or head controller of magic in the world, becomes a key figure in a battle with renegade sorcerers because he has nine lives.


Utah Beehive Book Award (Nominee — Children's Fiction — 1991)
Nēnē Award (Nominee — 1992)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

7.76 inches

User reviews

LibraryThing member dk_phoenix
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
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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!
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LibraryThing member Foxen
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
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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!
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LibraryThing member phoebesmum
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,
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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.
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LibraryThing member Raven
I never read the Chrestomanci books as a child, having been put off them by Witch Week - I'm not saying that it's not a good book, either, just that its depiction of a child who doesn't fit in at school was too on the nose to read for pleasure.

This book, though, explores the world of Chrestomanci
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beautifully, and I really really enjoyed the parallel-world set-up, the imagination of it all, and also the character arcs are nicely done. It's an odd theme for a children's book, the idea that people use each other, and sometimes this is a terrible thing, and sometimes people need to allow themselves to be used - that is to say, Christopher's powers as a nine-lived enchanter give him a duty to help - and it gives a distinctly adult tinge to the book, which may be why I enjoyed so much, even if I never did read it at seven or whenever it was that I didn't read Witch Week. I really throughly enjoyed it.
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LibraryThing member dbookmaniac
I thought this book was great. I read it in about a day and a half. This book is about a boy who feels that everyone seems to be trying to dicide what he is going to be. You can guess what is going to happen but it is still a great book.
LibraryThing member AJBraithwaite
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.
LibraryThing member Black_samvara
Fantastic worlds, unnatural love for cricket and magicians.

Christopher has no idea what normal is as he gets bumped from weird life to weird life and then he gets adopted/recruited by Chrestomanci.
LibraryThing member TheoClarke
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.
LibraryThing member ed.pendragon
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
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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.
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LibraryThing member thatotter
Great story. I wish Christopher had been a bit more careful with his lives.
LibraryThing member wyvernfriend
Christopher comes from a world with magic, only it appears that Christopher himself is unable to use magic, only in his dreams he is different, travelling worlds that are unlike his own and finding people that interest him. Things change when his uncle finds out what he can do and involves him in
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Not a bad read but I didn't quite engage with the characters, kept my interest but didn't fully engage it.
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LibraryThing member AltheaAnn
In this volume we learn about the boyhood of the enchanter Chrestomanci (who appears in all of these books, but only in this one as the protagonist.) Christopher
Chant seems to have no magic at all, but he has a rich dream life, in which it seems he can travel to other worlds - and even bring back
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physical things from other places. After meeting a few mischances, it also seems that Christopher is one of those very rare people born with 9 lives.... However, Christopher's beloved but unscrupulous uncle has some dangerous schemes in mind... schemes that sound a lot more fun than being taken away from cricket practice and forced to study magic and become "Chrestomanci", whatever that is! But, with the help of a good-hearted if dishonest spirit traveler, the Living Goddess Asheth, and a cantankerous temple cat, Christopher may eventually figure out the truth and save the things that really matter...
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LibraryThing member tronella
Very good, but the part that freaked me out when I was a kid still freaks me out just as much...
LibraryThing member mutantpudding
One of favorite series from Diana Wynne Jones. A bit outdated in its language in regards to race but overall very enjoyable. Creative and interesting fantasy world(s).


(511 ratings; 4.2)
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