Authors: Diana Wynne Jones, Ursula Jones
Publication: Greenwillow Books (April 22, 2014)
Description: The Islands of Chaldea is a new novel of magic and adventure by the renowned fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones, who left behind many acclaimed and beloved books upon her death in 2011, including the internationally bestselling Howl's Moving Castle and the Chrestomanci books. The Islands of Chaldea was completed by Diana Wynne Jones's sister Ursula Jones, an acclaimed novelist and actress.
Aileen comes from a long line of magic makers, and her Aunt Beck is the most powerful magician on Skarr. But even though she is old enough, Aileen's magic has yet to reveal itself. When Aileen is sent over the sea on a mission for the King, she worries that she'll be useless and in the way. A powerful (but mostly invisible) cat changes all of that—and with every obstacle Aileen faces, she becomes stronger and more confident and her magic blooms. This stand-alone novel is a perfect introduction to the novels of the beloved Diana Wynne Jones.
My Thoughts: THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA is a fun, middle grade novel filled with a magic, adventure, and even some romance. Aileen is supposed to have magic. After all, all the women in her family did and her Aunt Beck is a particularly powerful magician. But Aileen's magic isn't showing itself. Her initiation seems to have been a failure.
Aileen is sent on a mission along with her Aunt Beck, the King's second son Ivar, his servant Ogo of Logra to find a way to break the spell which has raised a barrier between the island of Logra and the other islands of Chaldea - Skarr, Bernica and Gallis. The High King's son Alasdair and his hunting party which included Aileen's father was kidnapped to Logra just before the barrier was raised. But there is a prophecy that says a Wise Woman accompanied by a man from each of the islands will be able to break the spell.
The islands also have four guardian beasts. Skarr's is the beast of the North who shows himself as a cat. Bernica's is a parrot. Gallis' is a red dragon. Logra's is a bull with wings. As it happens, as the group travels from island to island they meet men who choose to come along each with a guardian beast. Skarr's beast shows itself to Aileen when the group is almost stranded on a deserted island and comes along for the trip. Sometimes it is invisible and sometimes it can be seen.
Our travelers have lots of adventures on the trip as they have to deal with sabotaged luggage, indifferent priests, and evil magicians on their way to Logra. Aileen discovers that she does have magic along the way when it is necessary for her to take over from her aunt after the aunt has a spell cast on her.
I liked Aileen who grew in confidence as she made the journey. I thought it was interesting that she had decided to marry Ivar someday despite the fact that he was spoiled, arrogant, cowardly, and not very bright and that she kept overlooking all of Ogo's many virtues.
This was a great middle grade story for magic lovers.
I was glad the dress looked good, but what was going on with this voyage? We had been given contaminated clothes and poisonous medicine and a Captain who would happily have left us stranded on that island. But surely Kenig and Mavenne didn't want to lose their own son. Did they? But Donal would love to be rid of his brother, I thought. He had never liked Ivar. And Donal had definitely been plotting something, back on Skarr.I got this eARC from Edelweiss for review. You can buy your copy here.