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.
This is where it all comes together. Our heroes, with some disappointing behavior from a certain young lady from 'Drowned Ammet' who I expected more of frankly, come together. Mitt and Moril strike sparks as protagonists must when colliding, but there is a fresh perspective in the form of Maewen. A girl of modern Dalemark, she has been transported into, for her, the distant past, and must help unite the disparate factions of Dalemark and trust her new friends, before an ancient evil arises and changes history.
'Crown' effectively ties together all of the loose ends of the series, blending Mitt and Moril's stories, the distant past and even the modern coda at the end of 'Spellcoats' into a whole greater then its parts. That very effectiveness takes away some of the thrill of the book, as a reader can see where much of the plot is headed, but is still a worthy ending to the series with a strong message of forgiveness entwined in its plots.
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