Chrestomanci has one dressing gown for every day of the year, including leap days. They are all fabulous.
A series of novels by Diana Wynne Jones and arguably her second most famous work(s) after Howl's Moving Castle. A set of books set in the Related Worlds about a government official (the "Chrestomanci") who has nine lives and the job of controlling the misuse of magic.There are six novels and one collection of short stories, although, in some editions, pairs of novels are gathered under the title The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.The books are, in order of publication:
The Magicians of Caprona
The Lives of Christopher Chant
Mixed Magics (the short story collection):
"Warlock at the Wheel"
"Stealer of Souls"
"Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream"
"The Sage of Theare"
The Pinhoe Egg
The stories more or less fall into three broad headings: those that focus on a young boy named Eric "Cat" Chant, those that focus on Christopher Chant, or those that merely feature Chrestomanci as a supporting character to an entirely separate main cast.
Tropes featured include:
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Bewitched Amphibians: Gwendolen turns Euphemia the maid into a frog, having previously claimed that her bulging eyes made her look like one already.
There was a moment of ice-cold silence. It was a moment such as Cat hoped never to live through again. “Bless my soul!” Chrestomanci said, gently as frost freezes a window. [...] Cat wondered how such a mild voice could send the hair prickling upright at the back of his head.
Two Act Structure: Act I ends with Gwendolen losing her magic, and Act II begins with Janet's arrival.
The Magicians of Caprona
Adults Are Useless: Let's say played with, as Jones discussed in several lectures how she hated the trope in children's literature, and was very careful to give the characters good reasons. The adult Montanas and Petrochis are fairly unhelpful, yes, but it's because their prejudice against each other blinds them to any other possible explanation, not just because they are adults (the children start off with the same perspective). They don't so much ignore what's happen as go very determinedly in the wrong direction, and only get their act together at the very end. Marco and Rosa meanwhile are rather too aware for the children's comfort, the Duke turns out to be quite canny—despite childish qualities which at first made even the actual children dismiss him—and Chrestomanci was on the right track the whole time, but just too busy to be helpful until the end.
The Goddess: Thank you for telling me about yourself. I think you've had a rotten life, even worse than mine. People only want either of us for what use we are to them — you for your nine lives and me for my Goddess attributes. And both of us are caught and stuck and trapped in a life with a future all planned out by someone else — like a long, long tunnel with no way out!
The Butler Did It: It turns out that Mordecai Roberts was working for the Wraith for years.
The Call Put Me On Hold: Although he wasn't bothered by it in the least, destiny didn't catch up with Christopher until that fateful moment when Dr. Pawson took all of his silver away, and Christopher accidentally blew the roof of the house off.
Cat Stereotype: Throgmorton is a loveable rogue orange cat (although "loveable" often spills over into "evil-tempered").
"Christopher," said the Goddess, obviously trying to sound calm, "Bethi's dead. That means I'm going to die when they get a new Living Asheth." Kneeling by the dead cat, she screamed and screamed and screamed.
God in Human Form: The Living Asheth, a human girl who is chosen to represent the Living Aspect of the Goddess Asheth and who apparently gains some degree of supernatural ability (or at least an extra set of arms) from the position. The subversion is that Asheth doesn't really share her powers and the Living Asheth is an enchantress who is just that powerful on her own without realizing it.
No Sympathy: While young Christopher isn't terribly sympathetic himself, he has a point when he complains that he's getting lectured and blamed for dying.
Old Retainer: Discussed; Christopher is astonished by the idea, because he grew up in a household where the emotional atmosphere was such that the servants generally handed in their notice after a month or so.
Rage Against the Mentor: Christopher towards Gabriel De Witt, which lessens considerably when Christopher realizes De Witt had hated becoming Chrestomanci just as much as he does. But that doesn't stop it from rising up whenever they butt heads, like in Conrad's Fate.
Freak Out!: Christopher, of all people, has a minor one when he can't find Millie.
Jerkass: Christopher has shades of this, but it's his job to be more diplomatic about it, and Millie helps.
Only Sane Man: Conrad, especially when he's with Christopher. Gabriel De Witt even lampshades it.
He also said he was sorry to lose me, because I seemed to be the only person who could make Christopher see sense. I am not sure anyone can do that, but Christopher seems to think so too.
Reincarnation: Conrad's uncle tells him he has 'bad karma' because of something he did in a past life. Turns out he's lying, and Conrad is brand new.
Ship Tease: Christopher and Millie, by the bucket loads.
Straw Feminist: Conrad and Anthea's mother, who writes books about female enslavement that few people buy. A hypocritical version, since she exploits Anthea and later Conrad to do household chores she won't do herself and her reaction to learning that Anthea has secretly gotten herself accepted to a college is to protest that she's not clever enough.
Author Tract: The thinly veiled Aesop about Christianity turning the Pinhoes, Farleighs and Cleeves into fanatics.
Cassandra Truth: Poor Marianne tries desperately to let people know that Gammer has gone insane and is cursing the Farleighs, but everyone either has been bespelled not to believe her, or just won't listen.
Aliens Speaking English: It's stated that the reason the "Related Worlds" are referred to as such is because they all share the same languages, but the people Christopher encounters in his travels often speak English. Particularly glaring in Asheth's city, which is in the desert and has something of an Indo-Arabic culture.
Chrestomanci Castle winds up serving this function for young enchanters at times.
Witch Week is set at a pretty dreadful one.
Subverted in The Lives Of Christopher Chant where Christopher dreads going to school, but when he gets there loves it. He makes friends, excels at most lessons, and quickly grows into a more healthy person than he had been cooped up in his family home with no company. Unfortunately for him, fate - and more pointedly, the adults in his life - have designs on his future, and he is quite quickly whisked away from the school.
In Conrad's Fate Millie ends up running away to stop going to her awful boarding school.
"Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream" is about a girl who can control her dreams (to an extent) and siphon them off for commercial reproduction.
As a child Christopher believes that he is some version of this, once he's old enough to know they're a little odd (at first he thinks everyone can visit the Place Between in their sleep). Turns out he's not exactly, or at least, entirely, sleeping.
The Edwardian Era: Sort of. It's in another world, there's obviously no King Edward, and the books are set in modern-ish times, but 12-A bears quite a strong resemblance to the era of Edward's reign.
Fantasy Kitchen Sink: By the end of The Pinhoe Egg, you not only have witches, wizards, magicians, sorcerers, and enchanters all in the same world, but now there are griffins, unicorns, and all sorts of hidden mythical beasts in the world. Expanding it to the rest of the Related Worlds includes the Lords of Karma (in Conrad's Fate), mermaids, dragons, The Fair Folk, and the sort-of Indian-ish Goddess Asheth (in The Lives of Christopher Chant), and the Classical Mythology-ish gods and goddesses in The Sage of Theare.
Cat is confused about Miss Rosalie and Mordecai as they certainly actHappily Married, and she wears a gold wedding ring, but also insists on being called Miss Rosalie.
Healing Factor: The nine lives that Chrestomancis have are a form of this.
Hidden Depths: In Charmed Life Millie is introduced as Chrestomanci's plain, proper wife. She is perceived as nothing more than a motherly figure until Janet lets Cat know that Millie has magic as well. Cat shrugs this off as paranoia, but by the end of the story it's apparent that Millie is one of the most powerful magic-users in the Castle.
"Accidentally" getting a person's name wrong, in a way that implies that he just doesn't consider them important enough to remember it properly, is one of Chrestomanci's weapons against people who annoy him.
Janet does the same to Mr. Balsam in Charmed Life. At first she's genuinely having trouble remembering his name, but when Cat corrects her she declares that he doesn't deserve to have his name got right, and thereafter makes a point of getting it wrong a different way every time she says it.
Nephewism: A year after Cat and Gwendolen's parents die, they're sent to live with their previously-unknown cousin on... both sides of the family. He didn't take them in out of filial obligation, though.
In The Lives of Christopher Chant, a young Christopher Chant (the Chrestomanci of Charmed Life) meets and befriends a young girl who is the Living Aspect of the Goddess Asheth. Fast-forward ten years and they're married.
Conrad to Christopher, too, considering Christopher is basically a Reality Warper.
Parental Abandonment: Par for the course for a DWJ novel. Christopher's mother is a Control Freak social climber and his father a Workaholic who blew all his money, both of whom, though they do love him, want to dictate his life for personal gain. Cat and Gwendolen's parents are both implied to have been very kind, but they die within the first two pages.
On the other hand, Christopher and Millie subvert this, both being very loving and attentive parents to not only their biological children, but to their growing number of adopted children and students.
The protagonists of Witch Week are all missing at least one parent, except for Charles, whose parents sent him off to a school he hates so they wouldn't have to deal with him.
Conrad Tesdinic's father is dead, and his unbelievably neglectful mother lets him be manipulated by his Evil Uncle who lives with them. She's fully aware that her brother is a Manipulative Bastard, but she simply doesn't care enough to take an active role in his life. It's implied she herself was manipulated, reinforced with just a hint of magic.
Power Limiter/Power Nullifier: Every nine-lived enchanter has some sort of Achilles' Heel. For Christopher, it's silver: being in contact with it in any way renders him completely incapable of using magic. In Cat's case, he's left handed and thus has to use it to cast magic; any magic cast with his right will either be very weak or not work at all.
Reality Warper: Enchanters. Before receiving formal training in magic, Christopher and Cat warped reality without even realizing it.