Sonderbooks Book Reviews by Sondra Eklund

Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004
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*****= An all-time favorite
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*****The Spellcoats

Book Three of the Dalemark Quartet

by Diana Wynne Jones

Reviewed October 1, 2004.
Beech Tree Books, New York, 1995.  Originally published in 1979.  279 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JF JON).
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2004, #4, Young Adult and Children's Fantasy Old Favorites

I’m continuing to read the books of The Dalemark Quartet to my fifth-grade son.  I think he’s toward the lower end of the wide age range of people who will enjoy these books.  They present a sophisticated and intriguing fantasy series without any of the stereotypes readers may have come to expect.

As one way of breaking stereotypes, Diana Wynne Jones sets the third book of her quartet hundreds of years before the other books in the series.  The Spellcoats takes place in prehistoric Dalemark.  The story is woven by the narrator into two coats, using weaving rather than writing.

Tanaqui and her brothers and sisters don’t look much like the other villagers.  In fact, they look like the Heathens who are invading the land.  When her father and brother go off to the wars, her father doesn’t return, and her brother loses his mind.  Then the villagers decide that the Heathens are using him to put a curse on them and on the River itself.  Tanaqui’s family is different, so they must go.

Tanaqui weaves a fascinating story as she and her family figure out what is wrong with the River, and what power they have to combat it.  They learn about their mysterious mother and their own birthright.  They must use their power to save the land.

With her first three books presenting three totally different pictures of Dalemark, Diana Wynne Jones has made a powerful beginning to her series.  I’m looking forward to reading Timothy the fourth book, which ties them all together.

Reviews of other books by Diana Wynne Jones:

Book One in the Dalemark Quartet: Cart and Cwidder
Book Two in the Dalemark Quartet: Drowned Ammet
Book Four in the Dalemark Quartet:  The Crown of Dalemark
Dark Lord of Derkholm and Year of the Griffin
Conrad's Fate
Unexpected Magic

The Merlin Conspiracy
Wild Robert
The Ogre Downstairs
Witch's Business

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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