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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 the novels are often found dually bound in volumes under the title The Chronicles of Chrestomanci.

In order of publication, the books are:

  • Charmed Life
  • The Magicians of Caprona
  • Witch Week
  • 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"
  • Conrad's Fate
  • 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:

  • Achilles Heel: Each Chrestomanci has their own individual one.
  • Adults Are Useless: The Magicians of Caprona all the way.
  • Affably Evil: Uncle Ralph, at least around Christopher.
  • 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.
  • Author Tract: The Pinhoe Egg's thinly veiled Aesop about Christianity turning the Pinhoes and Farleighs into fanatics.
  • Badass Bookworm: Millie.
  • Badass Teacher: Michael Saunders
  • Baleful Polymorph: Eugenia
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Mordecai Roberts and Miss Rosalie. She's really only Tsundere where he's concerned, though, making her a Type B.
  • Battle Butler: All of the Castle staff are government employees, meaning they're trained mages who can back Chrestomanci up in a fight.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Millie.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the end of Charmed Life.
  • Bigger Bad: The Dright in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Gwendolen, and how!
  • Boarding School: Chrestomanci Castle winds up serving this function for young enchanters at times.
    • Witch Week is set at a pretty dreadful one.
  • Building of Adventure: Chrestomanci Castle in Charmed Life, Stallery Manor in Conrad's Fate.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Angelica Petrocchi
  • Burn the Witch: Witch Week is set in a world where this is common, and avoiding it is a main focus of the plot.
  • 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, certainly destiny didn't catch up with Christopher until that fateful moment when Dr. Pawson took all of his silver away, and Christopher blew the roof of the house off.
  • Cats Are Magic
  • Cats Have Nine Lives: Referenced in Charmed Life (the protagonist's nickname is Cat because he has nine lives); used literally in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • Cat Stereotype: Throgmorton in The Lives of Christopher Chant is a loveable rogue orange cat (although "loveable" often spills over into "evil-tempered").
  • Continuity Nod: A lot of them are scattered throughout the series.
    • The tan, fair-haired aide of Gabriel De Witt's at the end of Conrad's Fate.
    • Millie's cats in The Pinhoe Egg.
    • Elizabeth, one of the students mentioned at the end of Conrad's Fate, is Paolo and Tonino Montana's mother in The Magicians of Caprona.
    • Jason the boot boy from The Lives of Christopher Chant is featured a lot in The Pinhoe Egg
    • O'Neir, one of Christopher's childhood friends is the father of the girl featured in "Carol O'Neir's Hundredth Dream"
    • Millie's throwaway line about someone bullying her in Charmed Life is central to the plot in Conrad's Fate.
  • Corruption of a Minor: Those "experiments" Christopher does for his uncle? Aren't quite legal.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Tacroy and Christopher both. Wonder who the latter learned it from?
  • Dimension Lord: The Dright of Series Eleven.
  • Disc One Final Boss: The Wraith.
  • Dream Weaver: "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.
  • Double Agent: Tacroy is an unwilling Triple Agent.
  • Eccentric Mentor: Christopher Chant, AKA Chrestomanci
  • 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.
  • Egg McGuffin: The Pinhoe Egg
  • Enfant Terrible: Gwendolen. Just... Gwendolen.
    • To put it in perspective, Gwendolen was five when she started hijacking her brother's magic and put his lives into a matchbook, something that killed him. And then she was perfectly happy to let him be murdered in cold blood to break the barrier preventing travel between the worlds.
  • Evil Matriarch: Gammer Pinhoe.
  • Evil Uncle: Barely a spoiler considering how obvious it was from the start.
  • Extreme Doormat: Cat and Marianne at first.
  • The Fair Folk: The people of Series Eleven are implied to be the inspiration behind the elves myths.
  • 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.
    • Don't forget the gods of karma and the hints that Asheth is actually a god just working through the young enchantresses. Oh and the gods and goddesses in The Sage of Theare.
  • Feuding Families: Casa Montana and Casa Petrocchi in The Magicians of Caprona.
    • And then in The Pinhoe Egg, the Pinhoes and the Farleighs.
  • First Girl Wins: Millie.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: Janet. Well, it's an alternate dimension that closely resembles the past, anyway.
  • Flying Broomstick: In The Pinhoe Egg, women ride broomsticks and men ride bicycles.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Christopher, and probably also Gabriel DeWitt.
  • Five-Man Band: Witch Week's witches.
  • Functional Magic
  • Gentleman Wizard: all the Chretomancis. Quite a few other characters too.
  • God in Human Form: The Living Asheth, a human girl who is chosen to represent the Living Aspect of the Goddess Asheth and who gains some degree of supernatural ability (or at least an extra set of arms) from the position. Subverted by the Goddess in The Lives of Christopher Chant, who is really just that powerful on her own.
  • Good Parents: Millie and Christopher. Cat and Gwendolyn's parents were hinted to be this, but they died too quickly to get a good impression.
  • Good Thing You Can Heal: Cat and Christopher burn through their nine lives at an alarming rate.
  • Happily Married: Christopher and Millie.
  • Healing Factor: The nine lives that Chrestomancis have are a form of this.
  • Hostage Situation: Towards the end of The Lives of Christopher Chant, Gabriel De Witt is captured by the Dright of Series Eleven. Christopher travels there to negotiate for his release.
  • I Choose to Stay: Janet and all the other alternate versions of Gwendolen at the end of Charmed Life.
  • In Spite of a Nail
  • Inconvenient Summons
  • Istanbul Not Constantinople: For the Chrestomanci's home world.
  • It Runs in The Family: Magic, particularly enchanter-strength magic, in the Chant family. When two cousins get married, the chance of them having magical kids quadruples.
  • Jerkass: Young Christopher. So, so, so much. Somewhat justified by the fact that he's being shunted around and neglected by everyone around him, but still, Flavian and Miss Rosalie did try to get along with him.
    • Older Christopher, too, but it's his job to be more diplomatic about it and (if Conrad's Fate is any indication) Millie helps.
  • Kissing Cousins: Cat and Gwendolen's parents.
  • Last Girl Wins: Marianne, in all likelihood.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: The Pinhoe Egg is extremely guilty of this. So is The Magicians of Caprona.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Cat sometimes has difficulty interacting with other people, which gets him in trouble the more his sister stirs up. Word of God is that he is autistic.
  • Magical Land: "The distance," where all of the mythical creatures are sealed.
  • Magic Mirror: The parlor mirror through which Christopher's mother contacts Uncle Ralph, and the one in Gwendolen/Janet's room (though this only transmits in one direction, with images).
  • Magitek: Roger and Joe's inventions.
  • The Masquerade: The Pinhoes and Farleighs pretend to not have magic.
  • Meaningful Name: "Cat" Chant.
    • Dream Weaver Carol O'Neir; "oneiric" means having to do with dreams.
  • Meaningful Rename: Millie
  • Merged Reality: The end of Witch Week.
  • Merlin Sickness: The Sage of Theare, though it's more that his life has been running backwards to catch up with him.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: Apparently America is called Atlantis and ruled by the Incas.
  • The Multiverse: The Series of Related Worlds.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: Janet to Mr. Balsam in Charmed Life. Chrestomanci to everyone who doesn't matter to him.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Ralph Argent
  • 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.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: Made most explicit in Charmed Life.
  • Official Couple: A bunch.
  • Old Retainer: Discussed in The Lives of Christopher Chant; 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.
  • Only Sane Man: Poor Conrad Tesdinic Grant.
  • Our Dragons Are Different
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: Conrad in Conrad's Fate is the only person in the series to have a book in first-person. That's because he has insane powers of observation, at one point being able to take pictures of alternate universes without going to them, and eventually becomes the representative of his entire world in the multiverse for this reason.
  • Pals with Jesus: 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 want to dictate their son's 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 leaves him to be manipulated by his Evil Uncle. She's fully aware that her brother is a Manipulative Bastard, but she simply doesn't care enough to intervene. It's implied she herself was manipulated, reinforced with just a hint of magic.
  • Parental Substitute: Christopher and Millie for Cat and Janet.
  • Pet Monstrosity: Throgmorten.
  • 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.
  • Power Trio: Christopher (id), Millie (ego), and Conrad (super-ego).
  • Proper Lady: Irene Yeldham, nee Pinhoe.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Tacroy, aka Mordecai Roberts.
  • Puppet Permutation: The Punch and Judy sequence in The Magicians of Caprona.
  • Rage Against the Mentor: Christopher towards Gabriel De Witt.
  • Reincarnation: In Conrad's Fate, his 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.
  • Replacement Sibling: Janet for Gwendolen, to Cat.
  • The Scottish Trope: Because of what happens when someone says Chrestomanci, criminals go out of their way to use euphemisms to refer to him, such as "Eminent Personage." Rather a weak example of the trope, since the word in question is the title of a law-abiding government official, but you really, really don't want to get on the bad side of the most powerful enchanter in the world.
  • Screening the Call: While she wasn't intending this, Gwendolen's actions certainly had this effect on Cat.
  • Servile Snarker: Mary and Euphemia, the two particular maids who serve the children, grow more and more snarky as Gwendolen shows more and more of her bitchy side.
  • Soul Jar: Millie's wedding band for Christopher, the matchbook for Cat.
  • Speak of the Devil: Although not a villain, Chrestomanci whenever his name is spoken. Several times, he's in a dressing gown.
    • It's explained that this is intentional; since Chrestomanci shows up whenever he's summoned in this manner, he doesn't always have time to get dressed up.
      • At one point Janet asks him if this is the reason why all his dressing gowns are so fabulous, and Chrestomanci admits that he just really likes fancy clothes.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Amusingly subverted and parodied by The Magicians of Caprona.Marco Petrocchi and Rosa Montana successfully marry under both of their warring family's noses and live through the end.
  • The Syndicate: The Wraith in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Christopher.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Christopher, again.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Cat, when he finally tells Gwendolen where she can shove it.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: Gwendolen's behavior runs the gamut from just bratty to downright evil.
  • Two-Act Structure: In Charmed Life: Act I ends with Gwendolen losing her magic, and Act II begins with Janet's arrival.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: "Don't Notice" spells deliberately invoke this, and are undetectable by weaker mages.
  • Villain Episode: The story "Warlock at the Wheel" focuses on a minor villain from Charmed Life.
  • Waking Up At the Morgue: Christopher discovers he has nine lives this way, in The Lives of Christopher Chant.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Chrestomanci's dressing gowns.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In The Pinhoe Egg.
  • Witch Sight
  • You Are What You Hate: The alternate Earth in Witch Week, on which witches are universally feared and persecuted despite nearly everyone being a witch.
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