CART AND CWIDDER by Diana Wynne Jones


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Where would juvenile fantasy be without stringed instruments? Not in Dalemark, where Clennen the singer travels with his family through a repressive South, flamboyantly performing with his ancient "cwidder" but covertly passing information to would-be freedom fighters allied with the North. Then Clennen is killed; Ms unperturbed wife goes straight to her still waiting, aristocratic former suitor (a Southerner); the children, discovering their father's other identity as a notorious spy, prefer the road; and Kialin, a young passenger their father had taken into their cart, turns out to be a Northern prince fleeing abductors. With older brother Dagner soon arrested, it's up to Moril, eleven, and his sister Brid, to sing and play their way North to Kialin's freedom and their own, and it's on that eventful trip that Moril discovers both the powers that rest in his father's cwidder and his own ability to summon them. After a bit of hasty soul searching, Moril is able to put a pursuing Southern army to sleep with his music, to rout another with the illusion of advancing Northern forces, and, for a climax, to make the very mountains move, filling a pass through the Mils with rocky debris that buries the Southern leaders for good. Don't look for import--Moril's introspection is of the most cursory sort, and the good Earl (Kialin's father) on whose largesse his Northern subjects prosper makes a fairy tale indeed of the political goings on. But for those who prefer their adventures in imaginary realms, Jones' distinct personalities, agile plotting, and unobtrusive telling will more than suffice.
Pub Date: March 9th, 1977
ISBN: 0192752790
Page count: 198pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1977


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