Ven ven at vvcrane.junglelink.co.uk
Thu Nov 2 20:28:39 EST 2000

Date sent:      	Thu, 2 Nov 2000 15:33:35 -0500
From:           	owner-dwj-digest at suberic.net (dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones))
To:             	dwj-digest at suberic.net
Subject:        	dwj-digest (Diana Wynne Jones) V1 #240
Send reply to:  	dwj at suberic.net
Oh dear I've lost track of who is saying what, I know Lizzie and 
Ingrid are saying some of it.

> Maybe it wasn't a reference to a specific weakness. Maybe it was just a
> > way of saying that the nine-lifed enchanters weren't as all powerful as
> > everyone seemed to think they were and it's possible to defeat them.
> > Their certainly seems to be a lot of mythos/superstition around
> > Chrestomanci in "Charmed Life", although most of it is founded, like
> > saying his name three times to call him and what have you. Perhaps the
> > silver weakness was just an added bonus, something that made it easier
> > for people to defeat Chrestomanci. 

I think it is a specific weakness. I think the way that Christopher 
and Cat's limitations (respectively silver and inability to use the 
right hand for magic)  came upon them in childhood from the well 
meaning actions of others is just the way that DWJ has it work. It 
might be fate or perhaps to wield such power a weakness is 
neccessary --- like a fuse, or perhaps an earth wire -- so that an 
inevitable part of the way a nine lifed  enchanter's power manifests 
is with a revelation of their particular limitation. And the limitations 
are different in each case because the magic takes the path of 
least resistance, using whatever is around already.

> I guess I was thinking of the place in CL (p. 197 in the newest beech tree
> one) where Gwendolen comes back and tells the Nostrums that Cat had nine
> lives.  William says "we'll just have to discover the boy's weak
> point.  We certainly can't kill him unless we find it.  He must have
> one.  All enchanters do."  Which is strange because I definately got the
> impression in several places that they could simply kill either Cat or
> Chrestomanci until they were dead (like in the end of LoCC where
> Christopher feels naked with only one life).  

> But then the Nostrums also
> say, a bit before the previous quote, something to the effect of "we can't
> kill Chrestomanci unless we destroy the garden."  

I think a certain confusion arises because of two things, firstly 
there are several ways of dealing with nine lifed enchanters. 
Dispersing lives or stealing and binding them are among these. 
fSecondly Chrestomanci is not just a title, it evidently carries 
protections for the nine lifed enchanter who holds the post. The 
garden would seem to be the heart of that protection. So whatt I 
think is happening is this: the Nostrum's plan hinges on three 
things, the signature to summon Chrestomanci, the silver 
handcuffs to neutralise his magic and the sacrifice of an innocent 
child on the altar. Cat presents a problem to them as having nine 
lives. (Oh dear I thought this argument worked but it has just 
started to crumble on me. What's more my copy of CL is in three 
pieces, one is missing and its the last bit. Nonetheless I shall 
endeavour to forge ahead heroically)). When the  Nostrums find out 
about Cat and ask for his weakness I think the information they 
get5 is inaccurate. Gwendolen (I think) tells them it is in the book 
of matches she made and Chrestomanci tells them about the life in 
Fiddle, which gains him time. Gwendolen doesn't know about Cat's 
problem with his right hand -- it wasn't discovered until after she left 
-- she must just assume it was the thing she did. I presume if they 
had known Cat's weakness they could have used it against him, so 
that he couldn't raise his own magic against them. 

 And if Christopher's
> last life is seperated from him, in the safe or on Millie's hand, 
> that mean if he dies and needs it he can't get to it without being 
> for a while first?

This bit makes my head hurt. At a guess a nasty sacrifice like the 
one the Nostrums were planning  would be enough to get all of 
Chrestomanci's lives one after another, whereever they were 
hidden. What would happen with more commonplace  
assassination attempts I'm not sure.

BTW the above reference to well meaning actions doesn't mean I in 
any way condone forcing people to write with the wrong hand!

Limitations and weaknesses of magicians are quite a common 
motif. I once came up with a pretty screwball magic system. I've 
never actually used it for anything but I will if the opportunity ever 
arises. I saw a programme on the survivors of lightening strikes. It 
had strange effects on some of them, like a woman who came to 
herself a year afterward with no memory of that preceding year, she 
felt she had functioned like an automaton for that time yet her 
family said she had gone about her life without seeming any 
different . This gave me the idea fro a world in which lightning 
strikes were the catalyst for the development of magical powers, 
but not unnaturally had a downside too, giving the new wizard 
some physical or mental disadvantage. The consequence of this 
would be that some wizards would get that way as the hapless 
victims of bad luck whilst others would be complete nutters who 
stood about in thunderstorms waving pointy bits of metal 

You are trapped in that bright moment where you learned your doom.
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