Friday, June 25, 2010

Castle in the Air Review (Diana Wynne Jones)

Synopsis: Young merchant Abdullah leads a humble life. Or he did until a stranger sold him a threadbare - and disagreeable - magic carpet. Now Abdullah is caught in the middle of his grand daydreams. Walking one night in a luxurious garden, he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful and clever Flower-in-the-Night. But a wicked djinn sweeps the princess away right before Abdullah's eyes, leaving the young man no choice but to follow. This is no ordinary quest, however, for Flower-in-the-Night isn't all the djinn had stolen. Abdullah will have the so-called help of the cantankerous carpet, a cranky genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a very opinionated black cat. Will this motley crew be able to find the djinn's mysterious dwelling and rescue a castle full of princesses?

Review: One should definitely read Howl's Moving Castle before you read this one. I admit, I was disappointed that Howl, Calcifer, and Sophie were not much in this book. But the genie easily replaces Howl in every respect, as does the black cat Sophie. And while the carpet never speaks, its attitude is strikingly like Calcifer's - sulky if it doesn't receive praise (rather reminds me of the old copier at the library, which I had to constantly wheedle before it printed). These, along with a few new characters, make Castle in the Air as fun and entertaining as Howl's Moving Castle and House of Many Ways. Abdullah can be slightly annoying, but overall he's likable and I always felt sorry when something bad happened to him. The soldier is likable also.

Diana Wynne Jones's talent for good characters also extends with the djinns - Hasruel is the type of character that I absolutely love putting in my own stories: overall he's good, but he will often stand in the background to observe the occurring events with great interest and not very interested in preventing anything. They always add a little extra to stories. Dalzel I felt sorry for.

I wish there was another book with these characters - I've fallen in love with Diana Wynne Jones's characters more than I thought I would. I'm no fan of fantasy, but the particular fantasy in these books pokes fun of itself. It's very funny. And as soon as I can find hardcover copies of Castle in the Air, Howl's Moving Castle, and House of Many Ways I'm going to add them to my collection.

Overall Rating: {{{{

Others in This Trilogy:
1)Howl's Moving Castle
2)Castle in the Air
3)House of Many Ways

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