Halfway though Dalemark/beauty of DWJ/Archer's Goon TV prog

Neil Ward neilward at dircon.co.uk
Sun Jun 17 13:53:47 EDT 2001

Hi everyone,


I'm still forging ahead with my virgin readings of DWJs books, having most
recently polished off The Time of the Ghost (chilling) and Castle In The Air
(fun) and currently enjoying the Dalemark Quartet -  Cart and Cwidder
(fantastic – really loved this one); Drowned Ammet (lots of sea); The
Spellcoats (lots of river).  I’m still early into The Spellcoats…

I couldn't resist buying the whole Dalemark Quartet (Oxford; UK versions),
but when the books arrived from Amazon, I was slightly annoyed to find that
the first two in the series were in small format paperback and the later two
in a larger, better-quality format with "Oxford Children's Modern Classics"
written across the top.  It's no big deal, but they are different sizes!  I
like a set of books to sit next to each other on the shelf, shoulder to
shoulder, not elblw to kneecap.  I guess I should get a life...


Although I am preaching to the converted, I wanted to comment on the beauty
in DWJ's descriptive language, and give a couple of favourite examples from
my recent readings, but I’m very hard pushed to choose just a few passages
(and you’ll all know them anyway).

I loved the way DWJ covered Moril’s timorous discovery of his powers in
“Cart & Cwidder”.  To end the book with him leaving on a journey of
discovery on several levels was a stroke of genius; it was a beginning so
loaded with possibilities.  I cried when the horse was shot.  I don’t even
like horses, but I had somehow taken to Olob without even realising it.
Blimey – the power of words!

“Time of the Ghost” was amazing.  Not wishing to trivialise the serious
elements of the book (particularly the autobiographical content) I laughed
at the descriptions of Oliver’s behaviour.  It’s funny, the things that
stick, sometimes…

Bizarrely, now reading The Spellcoats, I’m having some trouble remembering
that Tanaqui is a girl.  The first person account doesn’t help, but I don’t
usually have this problem.  Perhaps it’s because the previous two Dalemark
books were told from the perspective of the boys Moril and Mitt, that I’m
having trouble adjusting to seeing things through the eyes of a girl.  I’m
rambling… perhaps I should finish the book, before saying daft things like


This will hardly be news to anyone here, but I contacted the BBC and tried
to shame them into re-screening the late Children's Unit's six-part
television version of "Archer's Goon".  Here's what they said:

"Dear Neil

Thank you for taking the time to contact us.

At the present time we have no plans to repeat 'Archer's Goon', however,
please be assured that your request has been registered for the attention of
our schedulers.

Secondly, the series is not commercially available on video or DVD, and for
copyright and contractual reasons we are unable to provide a one-off copy.

Should you wish to obtain further information regarding Diana Wynne Jones
may I suggest that you visit the following website:


I must point out that as this is not a BBC website we cannot be held
responsible for its content.

Thank you again for taking the time to write.

The website they mentioned is not particularly useful, IMO.  The response
isn't very heartening either...


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