Christopher Chant Has The Best Lives

Posted: November 17, 2010 by jerkmag in VAULT -- archives

The Lives of Christopher Chant is actually the second book in a quartet by Diana Wynne Jones, but I always read it before the real first book, Charmed Life. The first and second books are pretty much interchangeable.  While I recommend the entire series, my heart remains with Christopher.

Christopher Chant, the main character, was born with nine lives.  You’re thinking, “Hey, that’s pretty cool.”  Or maybe, “Just like a kitty!”  He lives in a world that consists of many different dimensions, and people have different versions of themselves in each one: nine dimensions, nine lives, none aware that the others exist. Christopher is special though.  He was born only once, in one dimension, but those other eight lives still have to be accounted for, so he just gets to keep them.  Still pretty cool, except he’s kind of oblivious to all this, so he ends up dying a half dozen times before he hits puberty.

The book follows Christopher as he learns about his unique abilities, practices magic, and finds out that he is to become the next Chrestomanci – a title given to a nine-lived person who walks between worlds and makes sure that reality doesn’t fall apart. Young Christopher doesn’t want any of it.  He doesn’t acknowledge to himself or others that his misadventures in other worlds have led him into real trouble – maybe even the life-threatening kind.  Will he survive to be the Chrestomanci?  I’m not telling.

~Rebecca Leviton

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