Conrad's Fate (with spoilers)

Ven vendersleighc at
Mon May 16 21:47:26 EDT 2005

What I liked most about Conrad's Fate was the
portrayal of Christopher Chant in transition from
his childhood to his adult self. The way his
character feels consistant from book to book over
the entire series has always shown that Dwj knows
him inside and out -- inside the books and out of
them indeed. As he appears in CF the most obvious
change from LOCC is sartorial, he has not only
come to love fine clothes but has acquired the
trick of wearing them well. That was the easy bit
bit of course. In CF we see Christopher
practising the skills and mannerisms that will
enable him to act as Chrestomanci. Essentially he
is learning a kind of cold reading -- the ability
to pick up cues about people and places without
giving away that he is a complete stranger to
them and, in fact, to do this whilst taking
charge, as he does on the walk up to the mansion.
He is already very good at this -- when he isn't
being tripped up by his own arrogance. (Like
several others in this discussion I've lent my
copy out, so I can't give as many examples as I
would like).  

I have also had jobs where you are learning as
you go along and any failure is treated as your
failure to know what to do, not their failure to 
teach you, so I was one who enjoyed seeing
Christopher and Conrad learning the servant
business. We had a recent discussion on list
about how a "real" "Edwardian" house differed
from Chrestomanci Castle and here was just that
very thing. Gracious living for a privileged
family and their hangers on as managed by an army
of people behind the scenes and below the stairs.
It was all another useful lesson for the future
Chrestomanci too.

What I didn't like was the abrupt removal of
Christopher from the mansion as events came to a
head -- that is because I was seeing this as his
story, not Conrad's of course. I felt rather out
of kilter with the whole ending as well, for
reasons others have mentioned. 

My take on how Conrad works as narrator is tied
up with my perception that Christopher is the
real hero of the story. I saw him as a Watson, a
chronicler of the "great man". As such he is a
superb observer, he does have an eye for detail
and, he is sufficiently aware of Conrad's faults,
as well as his virtues, to give us a warts and
all portrait. In so far as his own personality
comes out I didn't find him either stolid or
stupid, he is actually rather competent when he
has a chance to be as when he rescues Christopher
from his catastrophic ignorance of vegetables. 

Overall I agree with whoever said (paraphrasing)
that she liked it more than the books she didn't
like so much but not as well as the ones she
liked best but time will tell.


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