Wednesday, February 13, 2019

On the Coffee Table: The Magicians of Caprona

Title: The Magicians of Caprona
Author: Diana Wynne Jones
Image result for magicians of caprona
via Amazon
The Magicians of Caprona is the fourth book of Diana Wynne Jones's The Chronicles of Chrestomanci series, according to the author's recommended order.  More on that in a bit.  My previous reflections on the series can be found here and here.

Synopsis: two households, both alike in dignity...  Half-joking but the Romeo and Juliet allusions are undoubtedly intentional.  Caprona is a fictional Tuscan dukedom where two magician families feud.  Furthermore, someone is playing the Montanas and the Petrocchis against each other in an effort to distract both from looming external threats.  Just as with R&J, the story is told from the perspective of the children, drawn together by narrative if not always romantic forces.  Perspective jumps around but if the story has a main character, it is Tonino Montana who is abducted along with his Petrocchi counterpart, Angelica.  As we learn over time, Tonino is a more powerful magician than he or anyone else realizes - a frequent theme in Jones's stories.

Our daughter still claims this series as her favorite and this book as her preference among the bunch.  As a result, the real-world Tuscany was high on her wish list for our family trip to Europe last summer.  While that didn't pan out, her interest hasn't waned.  I enjoyed the story but don't think I would choose it as my favorite.  Jones has a wonderful gift for drawing likeable heroes and detestable villains.  I also appreciate the prominence of cats this time.  She usually favors dogs.  However, there are way too many characters to keep track of - so many uncles and aunts!  Plus, there's a Punch and Judy motif.  That story always creeps me out.

I accidentally read this book out of series order.  I realize that might not seem a big deal to most people but it's the sort of thing that drives me crazy!  In terms of narrative, the order matters little.  Each book is a stand-alone story.  The author, though, did have a recommended order.  Unfortunately, not every publisher has respected her wishes.  The author suggested The Magicians of Caprona as #4, whereas in the edition my daughter owns, it is #3.  In my own compulsive brain, reading a series out of order is a far greater sin than leaving it unfinished.  I'll need to rectify the situation at some point.


  1. I understand that, and, as such, I will usually read things on order of when the author wrote them, even, rather than some later "recommended" order. I like to be able to see what the author was thinking as s/he wrote.
    It drives me crazy that in the last several years, publishers have re-ordered The Chronicles of Narnia, both against the order in which Lewis wrote them and against how he said they should be read.

    This is a series I vaguely want to read but probably will never make time for it.

    1. I feel the same way about Narnia! I read them in publication order.

  2. This sounds interesting I don't think I will ever have the time to read them. If I was 30 years younger and had a brain, I might.

    cheers, parsnip

  3. thank you for introduction the book. Interesting for me. I should read it.

    have a great day

  4. I haven't heard of this series- but it does sound interesting. I love that your daughter loves it so much and you read it too. I also do not like to read books out of order. Thanks for sharing.

    1. I'd never heard of it, or any of her other books, growing up. Surprising. It was certainly a genre I loved at the time. It's good to learn from your own children!