Diana Wynne Jones

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SpaceShipRat
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Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Sat Jul 10, 2010 10:17 pm UTC

Known by most as "the one who wrote Howl's Moving Castle" actually one of the most acclaimed children's fantasy authors.
She's one of my favourite writers. Only a few of her books are for adults, but they are all linked by her style of taking what she has experienced (and she has a really freaky biography) And sprinkling it liberally with magic. it's her use of magic I love, she uses it as an absolutely wild force, not like modern fantasy with all the "Functional Magic"(see Tv tropes) weaving togheder legends and creatures. Her books especially the latest are so colorful. I came out of "House of many ways" "Enchanted Glass" feeling like I'd been put in a blender with a flowering meadow, a small english hamlet and a rainbow. I don't know where the ruthlessly selfish and immoral Fair Ones* fit in, but somehow they do.
*what I like to call "realistic elves"

So who else has read anything by DWJ?

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Amarantha
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Amarantha » Sun Jul 11, 2010 9:00 am UTC

Diana Wynne Jones is awesome. I would have read more, but I mostly borrow from libraries, and her stuff is apparently rare around here. I read a couple of Christopher Chant ones, and most of Dalemark, and I think some short stories. I intend to read many more, just need to get around to it.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Sun Jul 11, 2010 12:53 pm UTC

I had the first 2 Chrestomanci books since I was a little girl. Only later I learned the Miyazaki version of Howl came from a book, and made the connection.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby PAstrychef » Mon Jul 12, 2010 3:40 pm UTC

The one regret of no longer working part time in the children's room of my local library is letting the newest books by some great authors slip past. I will have to catch up with Jones ans she writes cracking great stories. My fave at the moment is Fire and Hemlock.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Virtual_Aardvark » Mon Jul 12, 2010 10:40 pm UTC

I loved Dog's Body when I was a kid. So much in fact that I recently had to tape together my copy to keep it from dying. Howl's Moving Castle is of course the epitome of cool. I think I like the movie as much as the book.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby podbaydoor » Tue Jul 13, 2010 12:43 am UTC

The Guide to Fantasyland was a watershed in fantasy satire and homage, for me. Also anything involving Derkholm (as in the "The Dark Lord of Derkholm") is ace. That book had me actually rolling on the floor laughing, something very few books have done.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby KestrelLowing » Tue Jul 13, 2010 2:01 pm UTC

One of my favorite authors when I was younger (actually, she still is).

My favorite was the Dalemark Quartet. I've always loved epics and time travel, and I liked the fact that it was in a bit different time than typical - one of the few fantasy books I've read with guns, albeit primitive ones. The last book was definitely my favorite.

I also enjoyed the Chrestomanci series, although looking at wikipedia it seems I've missed a book. I might have to remedy that situation.

I actually wasn't all that fond of Howl's Moving Castle. I liked her other works better.

I remember reading Aunt Maria (evidently Black Maria everywhere but the US) and being thoroughly creeped out, but I enjoyed it.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jul 14, 2010 1:54 am UTC

I read quite a bit of Wynne Jones. Her profound flaw is that she can't explain anything worth a darn. It is as if she is on the opposite end of a spectrum from Diane Duane. Fantasy wouldn't really be fantasy if you explained how absolutely everything worked, after all, but while everything probably works well enough in her head, she consistently demonstrates a failure to connect all the dots on paper. The result is that a lot of cool fantastic things happen, but you can't figure out why. It is indeed as the OP says: one is left feeling as if one has been put in a blender.

An excellent example is Witch Week. Parallel universes are nothing new, and they've been tackled by authors time and time again across the decades, but no one I've encountered has managed to cock up the explanation quite as badly as Wynne Jones does in Witch Week.

Thus, by far the best book of hers I read was The Ogre Downstairs, which works splendidly because she doesn't really have to explain anything much in that one and doesn't try. It's awfully reminiscent of Dahl, actually. Castle in the Air, the sequel to Howl, also worked pretty well, and as such I still might like to read House of Many Ways someday if I can get my hands on it. Archer's Goon is sort of cool, but it starts to drag when the plot starts needing to make sense.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby twisted fish » Wed Jul 14, 2010 2:07 am UTC

I've read Dark Lord of Derkholm a few times when I was a kid and remember loving it. Now I'm getting all nostalgic about it and may have to re-read it yet again/check out some of her other stuff

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Wed Jul 14, 2010 8:48 am UTC

Dark lord of Derkholm (and Year of the griffin) are some of her best. To Jorpho, you might notice (but only after you put down the book!) that you haven't quite understood what's going on, I had that problem with Archer's Goon, but Witch Week is not one of the complicated ones... Maybe you have to be familiar with the previous Chrestomanci books. Anyway I just read again till I get it.
Think of it in this terms, you can enjoy a novel set in our universe even if you aren't an expert in physics.
I think House of Many Ways is much more enjoyable then the second Howl novel, Castle in the Air, and even more than the original. The species of the "bad guy" is original and... unsettling.
Apart from the wild magic ("A Sudden Wild Magic" is also a great book, and geared firmly towards adults for once) I love the richness of the atmospheres she creates, they are totally immersive.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Jorpho » Wed Jul 14, 2010 10:56 pm UTC

Oh, no, Witch Week is definitely not complicated. Even Chrestomanci's appearance is not overly perplexing. It's just a good comparative example of the author's expository deficiencies. (whee big words)

I also read slogged through A Sudden Wild Magic once. What a mess.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby TaintedDeity » Wed Jul 14, 2010 11:04 pm UTC

I read 'Time of the Ghost' about 10 times before I understood it, each time thinking I had but then forgetting and having to read it again.
It makes a lot more sense now I've looked it up on Wiki.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby |Erasmus| » Wed Jul 28, 2010 12:36 pm UTC

Amarantha wrote:Diana Wynne Jones is awesome. I would have read more, but I mostly borrow from libraries, and her stuff is apparently rare around here. I read a couple of Christopher Chant ones, and most of Dalemark, and I think some short stories. I intend to read many more, just need to get around to it.

I think that's about the same amount I read, from libraries too. I could never find any more.

I have relatively fond memories of them from early high school. I don't know how they'd go if I was reading them today though. I've not really thought about trying to track any more down (my reading list is rather long at the moment anyway).

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby PAstrychef » Thu Jul 29, 2010 3:42 pm UTC

Went and borrowed a few I had not seen before from the library. They were nice. I did notice a lot of similarities from one to the next-the protagonist never knows the extent of his/her powers, the story usually involves a young person breaking free of family expectations and things are often not well wrapped up. I'm not sure if that's laziness on the part of Jones or a way of showing that the world at large, seen through the eyes of kids is often not well explained.There seem to several not available in my local systems. I wonder if they ever made to the US.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Thu Jul 29, 2010 5:15 pm UTC

There is a theme of adults being very useless, (and,occasionally, protagonists turning up to be the most powerful magician in the world) but she does have an extremely weird biography, as she apparently grew up in a shed with two younger sisters because her parents didn't want to be bothered by kids. :shock:

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Jorpho » Fri Jul 30, 2010 12:01 am UTC

PAstrychef wrote:I did notice a lot of similarities from one to the next-the protagonist never knows the extent of his/her powers, the story usually involves a young person breaking free of family expectations and things are often not well wrapped up. I'm not sure if that's laziness on the part of Jones or a way of showing that the world at large, seen through the eyes of kids is often not well explained.
Interesting! However, one would expect that a protagonist, having realized the true extent of his/her powers and free of family expectations, ought to be able to make sense of things, being so preternaturally gifted.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Sandry » Tue Sep 14, 2010 8:27 pm UTC

Love her stuff - never saw this thread before! Whoops.

Just finished House of Many Ways this weekend, after having re-read Howl and Castle in the Air. Loved the Dalemark Quartet, particularly. I think Dalemark would probably be my top recommend thus far.

Dark Lord of Derkholm was enjoyable, and I'd read more of that stuff, except the copy of the book we had was flawed in an odd way. Basically got to a certain page, jumped back about 80 pages, had those 80 pages a second time, then jumped forward 80 pages. So I missed a decent portion of the book because of the binding error. Some day I need to find a copy that isn't borked and re-read it.

Another friend of mine is probably the biggest DWJ fan I've ever come across, so I need to raid her bookshelf at some point.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Midnight » Fri Sep 17, 2010 4:51 am UTC

Virtual_Aardvark wrote:Dog's Body

Is one of my favorite books of all time. OF ALL TIME! It's up there with the Animorphs as far as childhood-reading-nostalgia. I thought it was just the coolest thing ever.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Fri Sep 17, 2010 8:17 pm UTC

Strangely enough (it's a lot of people's favourite) I really didn't like it much. the ones that most go "sci-fi" that and The Game, are the ones I like the lest. Maybe they are just too abstract, and they go right over my head. I just couldn't connect with a character that's half dog half ineffable being of light.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby crystal_owl » Sat Sep 18, 2010 12:06 pm UTC

I love her writing too, I love how it's witty without being silly or obvious. Much as I love Howl's Moving Castle I think House of Many Ways is actually my favourite in that series, and I love how it all comes together at the end. I didn't enjoy Castles in the Air as much. I need to read more of her books now - I have The Merlin Conspiracy sitting here waiting to be read, is it any good?
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Sat Sep 18, 2010 9:34 pm UTC

Well, it's the sequel to "deep secret" the one that takes off from an SF convention... I prefer the first book, even if it's more humour and less plot. The second I just immediatly forgot. It's still good, of course.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby El Spark » Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:45 pm UTC

I quite enjoy "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland." It's exactly right most of the time, and since I'm currently writing something based on skewering certain fantasy cliches (while carefully preserving others), it's been a real time-saver.
Check out my short horror story "No One Rents 203," available in Kindle and Nook formats.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Sun Mar 27, 2011 7:29 pm UTC

Nonononononono.
Diana Wynne jones has finally lost her battle with lung cancer.
For me it's like losing a sister in the girl I came to know through her books. I love you.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/ma ... s-obituary

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Jorpho » Sun Mar 27, 2011 8:07 pm UTC

Huh. First I've heard about it.

(Archer's Goon was a TV series..?)

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Sandry » Wed Mar 30, 2011 11:56 pm UTC

SpaceShipRat wrote:Nonononononono.
Diana Wynne jones has finally lost her battle with lung cancer.
For me it's like FUN a sister in the girl I came to know through her books. I love you.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/ma ... s-obituary

This was very sad news. I did appreciate reading all the tributes to her from all the people who were inspired by her, though.

http://journal.neilgaiman.com/2011/03/being-alive.html
http://www.dianeduane.com/outofambit/20 ... nne-jones/
http://gameshelf.jmac.org/2011/03/remem ... nne-jones/

/:
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby illiterati » Wed Apr 06, 2011 8:50 pm UTC

I'm incredibly happy that this thread exists. Every time I recommend Ms. Wynne-Jones to someone, i'm met with perplexed expressions. As a librarian, it's all I can do not to throw her books at some of my teen readers & not loan them anything else until they come back as fans. :twisted: I suspect my employers wouldn't like that much though... Anyway, i've only read a handful but, as others have said, Dark Lord of Derkholme is truly excellent. It is hard for me to read fantasy sometimes because it's so often predictable. DLD rather upended all my expectations. Good stuff.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Thu Apr 07, 2011 7:15 pm UTC

(Oh, I do feel that urge, fighting with the fact it's my own books I have to lend!)
True, I have difficulty finding fantasy that I can bear to read, and it's a pity because I like finding myself in different worlds with their own cultures, creatures and natural laws. Creating wildly fantastic yet believable worlds is something she did magnificently. I think Howl's Moving Castle and it's sequels are the best examples, closely followed by the Chrestomanci series.

Just today I saw a poster in my uni advertising a fantasy book, boasting such things as dragons, "dark elves" and a magic sword... had to stop, take out a pencil and write a little rant on the margin.

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby illiterati » Thu Apr 07, 2011 10:33 pm UTC

SpaceShipRat wrote:Just today I saw a poster in my uni advertising a fantasy book, boasting such things as dragons, "dark elves" and a magic sword... had to stop, take out a pencil and write a little rant on the margin.
:lol: What did your rant say? Inquiring minds wish to know.
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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby SpaceShipRat » Sat Apr 09, 2011 12:21 pm UTC

Something on the lines of "use your own imagination, instead of writing up your latest D&D campaign". ^.^

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Re: Diana Wynne Jones

Postby Pancaaakes » Wed Apr 13, 2011 11:22 am UTC

^^ I loved Diana Wynne Jones when I was growing up, one of my first great fantasy loves (excluding Harry Potter, but I didn't think of that as fantasy then). My favourite was The Merlin Conspiracy, which hasn't been mentioned yet, I don't think. And the Chrestomanci series, which has already been given due recognition.


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