Chrestomanci's timelines

Gill Othen gill at
Fri Aug 8 15:23:29 EDT 2003

Date: Tue, 5 Aug 2003 20:28:34 +0100
From: minnow at
Subject: Dating Chrestomanci/Caprona

Gill Othen wrote:

[At the end of a long post in reply to Robyn, about conflicting
worldviews, which I have snipped mostly because unless the terms in it
such as "magic", "asian" and "mediaeval" are defined at least a little
it seems not to be much use trying to follow it, so many of the words
being far too large to fit the narrow holes they are being forced into
- -- to say nothing of "individualist", which is bulging out like
Throgmorten in a small wickerwork basket]

LOL! You're absolutely right. Though I don't think we've used the term
"magic" have we? I suppose it's the issue of a mediaeval mindset, which we
both agree existed, but which I see as being overtaken by more "modern"
individual-centred thinking rather earlier than Robyn does.

>>Caprona, like Chrestomanci's England during his adult life, has cars and
electric light. On the other hand, both Christopher's childhood and Caprona
have frock-coats and top-hats as formal wear for males paying
morning-visits. And Covent Garden Market when Christopher is a child has
carts and carriages but not lorries.

The Girls' School Story is obviously a Power In The Land in *The Lives of
Christopher Chant*, and the finishing school in Switzerland is Millie's
destination at the end of it.<<

Is it Angela Brazil-tye stuff she admires, do you think? If so, isn't that a
touch later?

>>In *Charmed Life*, which is at least twenty-five years later according to
the pre-word, Janet comes from our world -- in which there are factories and
long-playing records and televisions and tower-blocks, and she always wears
trousers, which sounds rather later than twenty-five years after *our*
Edwardian era, to me.  More like late sixties/early
seventies, when trousers for girls as a general rule were just becoming
acceptable (but a trouser-suit worn by a woman in a divorce-court in 1970
gave the judge an excuse to refuse to hear her case, and most respectable
restaurants made a fuss about admitting any woman in a trouser-suit during
that year).  And Janet says that Gwendoline's clothes look "Edwardian".<<

You're right - I'd forgotten that. Obviously time to re-read....

>>It rather looks as if the differences in history, like America not having
been discovered by Europeans at the same time, and Agincourt having been won
by different sides, mean that we can't very well say that "Renaissance" or
"Edwardian" are reliable referents in Chrestomanci's world.  For all we
know, they didn't have the crusades in the form we know them, which might
have had a considerable effect on when and how the "new learning" got going;
they certainly didn't have
the same kings at the same time, if Richard II lost at Agincourt and was
still on the throne long afterwards.<<

Isn't there a general sense in which History tends to pull towards the same
big changes, however the details may vary within a particular Series?

>>Janet and Gwendoline and the other seven or however many of her there are,
are obviously born at the same "time" and living in the same
age-of-the-world even if the worlds they are doing it in have aged at
different rates or in different ways.<<

At the point of crossover between their worlds, yes.

>>What happens about the analogues of Richard II, one of whom was around for
a great deal longer than the other but each of whom was king?  And even more
so, what happens about Henry V, who doesn't seem to have occurred in
Chrestomanci's world?  But most of all, what about the people who were
extraordinary individuals, such people as the chap who invented the Spinning
Jenny?  Did they each invent it, and eight of them break their hearts
because it was simply not relevant in that world, and it wasn't yet
railroading time (as it were)?<<

I think so - just as Leonardo invented the bicycle but nobody was
interested. As for Henry V, well, Bolingbroke could have had an eldest son
called Henry, who either died as a child, or grew up to become the next Duke
of Lancaster and intermarried with another noble house.....

>>I've wondered this on and off for a while.  It's very difficult to make it
satisfactory when history is so obviously wildly off-whack but individuals
within it are as near as makes no odds identical, with identical parents and
so forth.  Does DWJ anywhere suggest that only a very few people are
"identicals", in the same way that the nine-lifed are rare (though not so
much so)?  I mean, if medicine develops at different rates, wouldn't average
life-expectancy also be greater or lesser, and the infant mortality rates
eliminate scads of population who in better conditions would survive and
breed?  Things like that.<<

Hmm. Interesting. Most people have a "counterpart" - or, arther, up to eight
counterparts. Some of them die young, but that doesn't affect the fact that
they existed. I don't think they have identical parents, though - Janet's
parents are not like Christopher's, except that they lost a child/always
wanted a son. [Pause while I go to try to check out half-remembered detail.
Greater pause for fury as I realise the book is somewhere at the bottom of a
book mountain created by my 15-year-old who is in the process of redoing her
room and has stacked every book once in it, including dozens "stolen" from
me, into teh spare room.]

Magic would make a difference, thoug, wouldn't it? Not in a simplistic,
Madam Pomfrey sort of way, but in the sense that in Cat and Gwendolen's
world it replaces some aspects of technology. I don't get the impression
that Janet's parents are the exact equivalent of the Chants, though. Do you?

Lots to think about there, though.


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