Intro: It has been seven years since the death of Diana Wynne Jones, and I've been a fan of hers since childhood, but I had never read this series before.
The Dalemark Quartet, arguably the most effective series Jones ever wrote. Jones' genius didn't lend itself to sequels. When she created a world and characters she said all that she wanted to say in that first volume. That's why many sequels often had mostly new sets of characters, if not new worlds, and often, fell flat. Dalemark is a magical kingdom divided among feuding lords, with a sharp division between those in the North and those in the South. Ideology, prejudice, and history must be overcome and its fate rests in the hands of children, sometimes scattered over centuries.
'Drowned Ammet' takes us to events slightly before 'Cart and Cwidder', to a boy in a port city of the dreadful South. Mitt sees his parents crushed beneath the ruthlessness of the Southern lord's greed, and after his father dies when a member of the resistance betrays him, Mitt vows revenge. This leads him to boarding a ship with two noble children on the run and what may be two gods guiding their journey.
A wonderful reversal. Jones tells us in one book what to expect out of characters from a certain region, and then she turns it on its head and creates an adventure that works very well on its own.
Next: The Spellcoats
Previous: Cart and Cwidder