The Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones is a last, unlooked-for book from one of my favorite authors, completed by her sister Ursula Jones after her death.
lives with her Aunt Beck, the Wise Woman of Skarr. Some day, Aileen
will be a Wise Woman, too, but at the moment she's feeling pretty
dubious about that, since she just failed her Initiation. But she must
put her self-doubt aside when she and her Aunt Beck are summoned by the
king -- and not just the king of Skarr, but the High King over all of
the islands of Chaldea. Years ago, the neighboring island kingdom of
Logra cast a powerful curse that created a barrier to prevent anyone
from traveling from the islands of Chaldea to Logra. Since the Chaldean
islands depend on trade with Logra, this has had a dreadful impact on
the economy. Worse, the Lograns have the son of the High King as a
captive Now a prophecy has come to light, saying that a Wise Woman of
Skarr must travel to Logra by way of the other islands, accompanied by a
man from each island, and thence enter Logra. Aunt Beck sets little
store by this prophecy, but the High King insists, so Beck and Aileen
set out, accompanied by Prince Ivar of Skarr and his servant Ogo. Along
the way, they are joined by a magical cat, a prophetic parrot, a monk, a
lizard, and some of Aileen's distant relatives on her father's side.
The journey is arduous, but it will be worth it if they can break the
curse. Of course, when they get to Logra, they discover that nothing is
as straightforward as it originally seemed, and Aileen will have a more
significant role to play than she ever expected.
What can I say?
It's a new Diana Wynne Jones when I thought there would never be another
new Diana Wynne Jones, and I honestly can't tell where DWJ's manuscript
left off and Ursula Jones' writing begins. Fellow fans of DWJ's quirky
brand of fantasy should be sure to pick this one up.
(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)