Cart and Cwidder by Diana Wynne Jones


What is a cwidder? You might be wondering just that. It’s a lute-like musical instrument, one that young Moril, full name Osfameron Tanamoril Clennenson (yes, really), plays with his family in a sort of traveling band. His siblings Brid and Dagner (short forms of their equally long names), his father Clennen and mother Lenina wander through Dalemark, singing, passing news from one village to another, sending personal messages, accepting passengers.

Things are a bit unstable in Dalemark, the North and South, and the musicians are among the very few traveling the paths these days. And when they take in a new passenger, a young fellow names Kialan, things begin to go wrong, Moril learns that his father has been keeping a very important secret.

Moril is such a great character, especially for those within the intended, (far younger than me) age group. He’s young and unsure of himself, but also obviously destined for greater things. Moril is a product of the North and the South. His mother was a Southern aristocrat, his father from the North. Jones also writes a great relationship among the siblings.

It’s a story about growing up and coming to terms with one’s situation, here, Moril and his family and his father’s background. And figuring out how to deal with his new place in the world.

Jones leaves me wanting to know more about Dalemark. It is the first published book but is chronologically the third in the series. And so I will be checking out the rest of the books in this quartet (here, sorted by publication date but with the internal chronology in brackets).

Cart and Cwidder, 1975 (3)
Drowned Ammet, 1977 (2)
The Spellcoats, 1979 (1)
The Crown of Dalemark, 1993 (4)

onceuponatimeviiiThis is the fourth book I read for Once Upon a Time VIII



  1. I loved this book, and enjoyed the rest of the series. I think it was my favourite of the four – but my favourite DWJ may be The Dark Lord of Derkholm, because it’s just so much fun! I finally managed to track down a copy of the sequel, The Year of the Griffin, which is pretty good too. The best of her books, I think, is Fire and Hemlock, but it’s a more complex work than some. She always gets real moral content in, though, even in the more light-hearted ones.


    1. Oh I loved Dark Lord of Derkholm, which I read last year, and if I’m not wrong, was my second DWJ book (the first being Howl’s moving castle). It was indeed such fun! I really ought to look at reading more DWJ


  2. I recently read Howl’s Moving Castle which was my first book by DWJ and I’m definitely interested in more of her works so always interested in reviews of her books.
    Lynn šŸ˜€


  3. Ooooh. I had fun with Cart and Cwidder. I found it the weakest of the lot, so I hope you’ll find the other books even more enjoyable! Is this the first DWJ you’ve read? (My favourite Dalemark book is probably Drowned Ammet. I should reread them at some point. ^_^)


    1. Hi Lynn, great to hear that the other Dalemark books get better! I’ve read Howl’s and Dark Lord of Derkholm as well as The Year of the Griffin and have enjoyed each of them thoroughly, although perhaps DLoD most of all. I’m looking forward to more DWJ books!


      1. I hope you’ll enjoy them all! Spellcoats has a wonderful narrative conceit to it and The Crown of Dalemark pulls all three books together so well, and that’s before accounting for the way it treats the world-building at large. ā¤ I hope you'll give the Chrestomanci books a try sometime. They're delightful.


  4. I’ve been wanting to reread this quartet, and just started with Cart and Cwidder. I enjoyed it a lot, although I find I remember the other books more clearly…so I’m looking forward to revisiting them. šŸ™‚ I also have to second Lynn, Chrestomanci is delightful!


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