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Old School Wednesdays is a weekly Book Smuggler feature. We came up with the idea towards the end of , when both Ana and Thea were feeling exhausted from the never-ending inundation of New and Shiny and often over-hyped books. What better way to snap out of a reading fugue than to take a mini-vacation into the past? Cart and Cwidder is the first in the best-selling Dalemark Quartet of books and tells the story of Moril and his brother and sister who are travelling musicians journeying through Dalemark, until one day they pick up a mysterious passenger.
You can open a DWJ novel and get a fantastical story full of whimsical details and lovely characters; or a SciFi time traveling romp; or a darker take on familial relationships that could be either mythical or very humane.
Occasionally you find romance, sometimes you get heartbreak and very often often there is humour. And because I am yet to be disappointed by a DWJ novel, her books are also a great source of comfort. Take Cart and Cwidder : to say this book came out of left field is an understatement.
Its beginning is slow and even sort of dull. A young boy named Moril daydreams as he travels alongside his family of touring musicians, thinking about far away rolling fields. His family lovingly mocks him, he gets to work on his songs, just as his brother Dagner and sister Brid do. Their parents Clennen and Lenina take care of the show, the food and the money.
Songs are made and performed. Messages are carried back and forth between the towns they travel to, just another service they provide for gold, or goods. Then half way through the book you see that the milk chocolate is a white-chocolate-with-raspberries-and-a-dash-of-chilli-pepper in disguise. Then hours later, Lenina decides she had enough of that life and marries a lord who might or might not have killed her husband.
Children are optional in this arrangement. Dagner, Brid, Moril and Kialan take off to have adventures on their own. All of a sudden: freedom fighting. And growing up. And these are only part of what makes this short book so remarkable. The storytelling is infused with meaning — and history, myths are a huge part of it.
There is magic in the ordinary. That there is struggle in making the right choice and in using magic. Her choice matter even more when it becomes clear that the reason she married Clennen in the first place might not have been entirely consensual. So I really appreciated the freedom she is granted by the narrative. Cart and Cwidder is the first in the Dalemark Quartet. I picked up all four books because I was told the fourth has time travel and that is relevant to my current interests.
I hope to read the next books in quick succession as I loved this one. Ana Grilo is a Brazilian who moved to the UK because of the weather. No, seriously. Much obliged, Ana — I think this series is my next re-read! The Dalemark books were my first DWJ, and the first fantasy books I found on my own at the library as a kid.
They are beautiful, strange, and sad — I only reread the series once, even though I reread my favorites of hers at least once a year back then. So happy to see you appreciated this! I love the entire series, basically with the exception of the third book, and even that one proves to be important.
Lenina calmly picks up where she left off, before she was enchanted. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Because the father gets violently murdered. Before he dies he tells Moril his cwidder is enchanted.
By Ana. Jeff P. Michelle February 3, at am The Dalemark books were my first DWJ, and the first fantasy books I found on my own at the library as a kid. Herenya February 4, at am This makes me think I might appreciate Cart and Cwidder more upon rereading it.
Beth February 4, at pm So happy to see you appreciated this! Franki January 17, at pm I love this series, especially the last one! I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
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Old School Wednesdays: CART AND CWIDDER by Diana Wynne Jones
It is the first book published in the Dalemark Quartet , although chronologically it is the third in the series, coming in time hundreds of years after The Spellcoats and a year or so after Drowned Ammet. Osfameron Tanamoril Moril Clennenson is a travelling musician, who travels with his father, Clennen, his mother, Lenina, and his elder siblings, Dagner and Brid, through Dalemark, a country torn by civil war between the South and the North. They travel around, playing music, taking passengers and messages, and spreading news throughout the country. When Clennen the father and main performer is murdered by the Earl of South Dales, who suspects him of being a spy for the North, Lenina who is high-born and gave up the chance of being a Lady when she married Clennen takes her three children and their passenger Kialan, the fugitive son of a Northern earl, back to her home town of Markind in South Dalemark. Dagner, Brid, and Moril encounter their father's murderer among the wedding guests in Markind and together with Kialan they flee the town and try to reach the North, while continuing to perform for a living. However, without Clennen and Lenina, they find this difficult to do. The oldest son, Dagner, tries to continue their father's work as a Northern spy, but is arrested for treason against the Earl of South Dales.
Cart and Cwidder
The first published of the four volumes in the Dalemark Quartet, this novel takes place after The Spellcoats and Drowned Ammet. All four novels interrelate, and all are clarified and at least partly resolved in the final volume, The Crown of Dalemark , which takes place partly in the timeframe of this novel and partly in Dalemark's present time. The "cwidder" mentioned in the title refers to a type of stringed musical instrument, similar to a lute, which the singers use to accompany their performances. Cart and Cwidder begins in the middle of a war between North and South Dalemark. It follows the family of an itinerant musician, Clennen Mendakersson, and his wife Lenina Thornsdaughter.