Monday, September 10, 2012

Castle in the Air

Castle in the Air (Howl's Moving Castle, 2) by Diana Wynne Jones, 1990. 383 pages. Published by Greenwillow Books. Source: Bought.
Young merchant Abdullah leads a humble life. Or he did until a stranger sold him a threadbare--and disagreeable--magic carpet. Now Abdullah is caught in the middle of his grand daydreams. Waking one night in a luxurious garden, he meets and falls instantly in love with the beautiful and clever Flower-in-the-Night. But a wicked djinn sweeps the princess away right before Abdullah's eyes, leaving the young man no choice but to follow. This is no ordinary quest, however, for Flower-in-the-Night isn't all the djinn has stolen. Abdullah will have the so-called help of the cantankerous carpet, a cranky genie in a bottle, a dishonest soldier, and a very opinionated black cat. Will this motley crew be able to find the djinn's mysterious dwelling and rescue a castle full of princesses?
First Sentence:
Far to the south of the land of Ingary, in the Sultanates of Rashpuht, a young carpet merchant called Abdullah lived in the city of Zanzib. 
Y'all have no idea how long I've been waiting to read the companion to Howl's Moving Castle. LONG. TIME.

Was Castle in the Sky worth the long wait, absolutely. Was it as good as its predecessor, Howl's Moving Castle, yes and no. While this is definitely an epic piece of work from one of the best fantasy writers I have read, I did not love this one nearly as much as the first in the series. Now, I don't want y'all to go and think that Castle in the Air is not worth reading, I just want y'all to know that as good as it was it just couldn't match the awesomeness of book one.

One of the things I really enjoyed while reading Castle in the Air would have to be how the author incorporated a couple minor characters from the last book and gave their story a little more attention. I thought it was nice to see how the author made use of an already existing character and gave their story more depth. I thought it was a great way to not bring in more new characters that would need to be fit into the world.
My final reason for loving her reuse of a certain character was that it cracked me up when I realized that it was in fact Prince Justin and that he managed to get himself cursed yet again. Talk about cruel yet funny. Funniness aside, it was nice to see that he got a much deserved happy ending after the trials that he faced-although, I think what happened in this book may have been good for his ego.

Ah, the writing of Diana Wynne Jones. She was one of the best authors when it came to writing fantasy and world building because her books could just take you away, pulling you right into the world that her characters call home. Castle in the Air, is brilliant in how she combines new characters with the old all while keeping the story new and exciting. I would definitely recommend that y'all go and read both books (unless you're ahead of the game and already have, then a reread is order).

Abdullah, he bothered me at first because he seemed to not care about anything except for his imaginings (like, that he was kidnapped and had a fascinating life story). It took me awhile to warm up to him as a character because he just seemed to float on by and never really get involved in anything, which could make him a hard lead character to care about. While he was frustrating at first, I liked him once he started out to save Flower-in-the-Night because he kept going even when there was nothing but obstacle after obstacle in his way.
Flower-in-the-Night, I can not say enough good tings about her. When you first meet her, Flower-in-the-Night comes across as, well, simple. But after she is taken you began to see how formidable she can be and for that she is made of win in my book. I could/would tell you more about her, but as River Song says, "Spoilers."

Usually it's a scene or some part of the world that the author created that I find myself drawn to the must, but in Castle in the Air what stood out and grabbed my attention was a character. Flower-in-the-Night. She at times reminded me of Sophie, when she was cursed, and how she decided to just take charge and make things happen instead of waiting for something to happen. While you may have to wait till closer to the end to see her moment, Flower-in-the-Night is one character that you'll love.

Even though Castle in the Air is really good, and I mean really good, the one thing I found myself not liking would have to be that Sophie, Howl and Calcifer were hardly there. I know, they were not supposed to be the main focus of this book, but can you fault me for being disappointed that they had such small roles in the book. Okay, so while I was disappointed that my three of my favorite characters were hardly there, I still enjoyed this book immensely.

Final Verdict: It may not be Howl's Moving Castle, but Castle in the Air is not one to be missed because Ms Jones' writing is spectacular and full of wit.

Castle in the Air earns 5 out of 5 pineapples.

More Diana Wynne Jones on the blog:
Howl's Moving Castle
Charmed Life
Cart and Cwidder
Drowned Ammet

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