The Islands of Chaldea

The Islands of Chaldea, by Diana Wynne Jones

I took some time to read this on Sunday, and it was just lovely to sink into the story.  This is only the second time I've read The Islands of Chaldea, so it was practically new and there was plenty of treasure to find.

Aileen is a really nice heroine for the story.  She starts off really down in the dumps, because she has just failed her initiation; she is supposed to be the next Wise Woman of Skarr, but she couldn't even have the most measly little vision.  And then the King sends her Aunt Beck off on a quest, so she's going too, though nobody wants to (and in fact they're all being sabotaged).  So Aileen has a long way to go--she needs confidence and daring and the ability to command, but as her friend says, she keeps wailing about being talentless and plain.  Through the frustrating, uncomfortable, irritating (and dangerous) journey, Aileen comes into her own.

I love the four Guardians of Chaldea.  They come along on the trip, but aren't recognizable at first.  They are very fun.  And one is a winged bull, which is neat.  Each has one of the islands in its stewardship.  The islands themselves are takeoffs on the British Isles, if you divided each large island into two and put Wales partway into a new place.  Each one is quite different and I enjoy how SWJ played with the names.

Aunt Beck is a nice example of an adult woman who isn't a villain in a DWJ novel.  In fact, the central villain is a man--but he's backed up by a hungry mother, sure enough.

I've missed a lot of DWJ March, unfortunately.  I wish I was keeping up with it better, and with blogging in general.  Life got really nuts a couple of months back and it hasn't really settled back yet.  I do plan to read Conrad's Fate this weekend and I still want to read at least some of Reflections.  I'm just more in a Conrad mood just now.


  1. I'm always in a Conrad's Fate mood! Or nearly always. It's one of my absolute favorite of DWJ's books, which is just so awesome to me, that I can have favorites in DWJ's oeuvre from such far-apart decades of her writing career.

  2. I just reread this and I really enjoyed it up until the end. I'm not sure where Ursula took over exactly, but I'm thinking it was around when they get into Logra. After that it just didn't fit with what had come before, and there were many ideas jumbled around that didn't quite gel. Still, I"m glad it was finished and I will still always wish I could visit these Islands!

  3. I didn't even mean to read Conrad's Fate this year but I couldn't resist. It certainly rekindled my full DWJ love this month. :)
    And this was my second read and I also really focused on the Guardians too for some reason. I loved every time Green Greet spoke and I wish we had more time with the last two revealed guardians.

  4. Me too! What would they do if we spent more time with them?


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