Rereading: THE CROWN OF DALEMARK by Diana Wynne Jones

Cover art by Geoff Taylor

The final book of the Dalemark Quartet is a long one, my copy has 494 pages, and it ties together all the characters and storylines of the previous three books as well as introducing a new character from the present time.

Maewen Singer lives in a modern Dalemark, with railroads, telephones, and all the devices and culture of mid-20th century Britain. Her mother is an artist, her father a diplomat in the capital city’s royal palace. When she goes to visit him there for a few weeks, she explores the history and artifacts displayed in the royal castle, as well as paintings of past rulers and their friends. This is a Dalemark of no-nonsense, but the days of the godlike Undying are remembered by historians like her father. One aide of her father, Wend, is happy to show Maewen some of the artifacts, taking them out of their cases, but he has a hidden agenda. When he hands her the golden statue of The One, Maewen is suddenly transported about 200 years into the past, where she finds herself in the middle of a revolution, and where she is seen and accepted as Princess Noreth, the leader of that revolution, who she apparently looks exactly like. The real Noreth has disappeared, and Maewen struggles to fill her place, with help from close advisors: Mitt and Navis from Drowned Ammet, Moril the Singer from Cart and Cwidder, and Wend is also there representing The Undying, tied to The Spellcoats family, acting as a guide on the green roads they follow. Maewen is also given advice by a voice that may be The One, but the advice is often horrible, so is it really from the evil spirit Kankredin? The prophecy says a new king can unite all of Dalemark if the royal tokens are gathered: a ring, a cup, a sword, and a crown, and that’s the quest Noreth was about to begin when Maewen found herself in Noreth’s place. Can she and her band really do all that, while evading capture by forces rising to stop her?

I enjoyed rereading this, though the plot is complicated and I sometimes got lost among all the characters and references. It seems more plot-driven than the other books in the series, but in the end is a satisfying conclusion to the epic fantasy tale. Recommended.

The Crown of Dalemark by Diana Wynne Jones

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