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The Islands of Chaldea

Review

The Islands of Chaldea

To everyone involved, it seemed like the war between the Islands of Chaldea and the island of Logra would never end. Then one day, it simply stopped. Now ten years later, the mysterious barrier that “ended” the war remains, separating the vibrant eastern island from the rest: Skarr to the North, Bernica to the West and Gallis to the South. Trade between Logra has ceased as ships approaching the barrier get shoved away by wind and tide. Everyone is uneasy, but no one knows what to do.

This, however, is the least of Aileen’s concerns. As the last of a line of powerful Wise Women and magicmakers, Aileen’s problem lies in the fact that she just failed her Initiation. Now Aileen must face the fact that she may never gain any power at all, certainly none like her Aunt Beck’s. Aileen is given no time to grieve for her loss. Instead, she and Aunt Beck suddenly find themselves shoved on a boat with the region’s Prince and his servant on a quest to finally lower Logra’s barrier. With the instructions to bring a male from each island and sail to Logra, Aileen is now confronted with unknown perils, wicked magic and a legend that may just save all the islands.

The novel never fails to draw you into the strange and almost archaic world of Chaldea.

THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA, completed by Ursula Jones, is another whimsical and fantastical novel by Diana Wynne Jones. The novel never fails to draw you into the strange and almost archaic world of Chaldea. Not surprisingly, the novel’s greatest strength was its ability to build a world, a history and a mythology for readers to fall in love with and become invested in. However, the story relied so much on the legends and myths being built that at times, the action was slow.

As I was reading, I wanted to see more character development, especially from characters other than Aileen. The story did a good job making you feel invested in the people, but the payoff wasn’t quite enough. Often, the characters learned something about the world rather than something about themselves. I wanted to understand their actions, their motives and their histories as much as I wanted to understand the places they called home. I wanted to see how the journey changed them, rather than assume that it did.

If you’re looking for a fast-paced, action-packed summer fantasy, this may not be the right pick. However, THE ISLANDS OF CHALDEA is a great light read with just the right amount of fun, innocence and heartwarming magic.

Reviewed by Ashley Tran on June 25, 2014

The Islands of Chaldea
by Diana Wynne Jones

  • Publication Date: April 22, 2014
  • Genres: Children's, Fantasy, Fiction
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Greenwillow Books
  • ISBN-10: 0062295071
  • ISBN-13: 9780062295071