Thoughts on Castle in the Air

I’m a Diana Wynne Jones fan. Pure and simple.

When I was looking for a new book to listen to, I decided that I wanted another DWJ book. I had once heard that Castle in the Air was a sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle. On this particular day though, I couldn’t find any confirmation that it was. I decided to take the chance on the book because… well, Diana Wynne Jones. Need I say more?

And I started listening.

First, I imagine the narrator, Jenny Sterlin, as an older English woman. I enjoyed hearing her do mock Middle Eastern accents (like I could do any better!). Really, it made me laugh with enjoyment.

Now, there are some things I didn’t like about the narration, mostly the fact that the breaks in the tracks didn’t follow with the chapters. It sounded like it was the entire read from a day, but I also realize that it might have come from a recording originally meant for CD, so I give it.

About halfway through, I was getting a little tired of everything always going wrong for the main character. It seems like hardly anything goes right. I was beginning to wonder if this would be the first DWJ book that I didn’t like. Inconceivable! I certainly didn’t want to not like it. But, I also knew that sometimes Diana can take awhile to get things to come together, like Enchanted Glass or The Lives of Christopher Chant. So I waited, wondering how the heck she was going to have enough material for the hours that I had left.

I was certain that this was not related to Howl’s Moving Castle at all.

I finally took to analyzing why this book felt so long. I was no longer listening and enjoying (not that I wasn’t, but I was trying to figure out why this wasn’t rolling along as I wished). This was, after all, Diana Wynne Jones.

Then it happened.

I was listening along and a character names Sophie mentioned Howl’s name. I nearly dropped my phone. This was Howl’s Sophie! All of a sudden, the story looked bright, shiny, and new. I was so excited. Howl!

The pieces of the story suddenly started falling into place. The only thing that I missed was Calcifer. Dang little fire demon!

I really enjoyed how it all came together, as always. I don’t know why I ever lacked the faith with her story. DWJ is an amazing storyteller.

I do have to admit that when Jenny Sterlin got to doing Calcifer’s voice, I thought, “I want Billy Crystal.” My whining aside, she did an excellent job with Howl’s voice. I really want to get the audio for Howl’s Moving Castle just to listen to Jenny’s performance. I want to hear her take on the tale.

Now I’ve moved onto House of Many Ways, which is much easier to see is a continuation of the Howl series. Then I want to go back to the Chrestomanci series. Oh, so many DWJ books I still have to discover. I can’t wait for the adventures.

Happy reading!

Progress – January 14, 2019

I’ve still been working on the story about Martias and Steigan heading to the Palin Wars which I referenced last Wednesday. I’m trying to slant it so that a reader could pick it up at any point in the story, even before reading Quest for the Three Books, without much in the way of spoilers. So far, so good.

It is a little strange because while I have known Martias’ motivations for quite some time, I hadn’t every really thought about where his head would be at when he and Steigan ran away to the Palin Mountains. We’ve “chatted” about how he felt when he first arrived at the Temple, and even how he felt when he was nominated for the position of Holy Sapere, but I hadn’t really needed to know how he felt along the way on that path. So, this provides me with interesting insights into his character.

I also love his view of Steigan. I’m so use to being in Steigan’s head, where he is always so noble and upstanding. Let’s face it, even when he had no memories, I knew who he was because I knew how he’d act on instinct alone. Admittedly, that might be why I’m having issues working on book 5 (The Missing Thread) because Steigan’s headspace is so messed up that he doesn’t know who he is anymore. That, and the fact that I have no idea about Keteria waking up. I know when I write the correct scene, I’ll know it. It just hasn’t happened yet. Anyway, that aside, it’s fun to see what Martias thinks about and what he withholds. Steigan is cut and dry. He speaks his mind. Marias, he refrains. Again, that’s not something new with Martias — I’ve known he doesn’t always tell Steigan everything, but I see how he is event the trickster character in his own mind. It’s fun.

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