Maybe you didn’t know that, but J.K. Rowling isn’t the only author to wrote children’s fantasy series. In fact, one of her inspirations is Diana Wynne Jones’s Chrestomanci series. You can also recognize her influence on The Magicians series by Lev Grossman and others… If you are curious, I compiled the multiple reading order options for this series, but first…

What is the Chrestomanci series about?

Published from 1977 to 2006, the Chrestomanci series takes us in an unspecified time, in a parallel world close to ours where magic is common. Chrestomanci is the name of a powerful enchanter and British government official whose duties include the supervision and enforcement of magical law. Only the most powerful enchanter can take over the office of Chrestomanci – Christopher Chant is Chrestomanci in five of the seven books.

I. Chrestomanci Series’ Publication order:

Let’s start with the publication order. Some readers always choose that approach in order to appreciate how the author build the story. But, like the Narnia books, the Chrestomanci books were written out of order. That said, the publication order is also the best way for me to introduce the books, so here we go :

  1. Charmed Life – Everybody says that Gwendolyn Chant is a gifted witch with astonishing powers, so it suits her enormously when she is taken to live in Chrestomanci Castle. Her brother Eric (better known as Cat) is not so keen, for he has no talent for magic at all. However, life with the great enchanter is not what either of them expects and sparks begin to fly.
  2. The Magicians of Caprona – The Dukedom of Caprona is a place where music is enchantment and spells are as slippery as spaghetti. The magical business is run by two families – the Montanas and the Petrocchis – and they are deadly rivals. So when all the spells start going wrong, they naturally blame each other. Chrestomanci suspects an evil enchanter; others say it is a White Devil. Or maybe a different kind of magic is needed to save Caprona…
  3. Witch Week – The law says that all witches must be burned at the stake. So when an anonymous note warns, ‘Someone in this class is a witch,’ the students in 6B are nervous – especially the boy who’s just discovered that he can cast spells and the girl who was named after the most famous witch of all.
  4. The Lives of Christopher Chant – Discovering that he has nine lives and is destined to be the next ‘Chrestomanci’ is not part of Christopher’s plans for the future: he’d much rather play cricket and wander around his secret dream worlds. But he soon finds that destiny is difficult to avoid.

  1. Mixed Magics – It’s a collection short stories published 1982 to 2000. Details just after this list.
  2. Conrad’s Fate – Someone at the mysterious Stallery Mansion is pulling the possibilities. At first only small details change – the color of the mailboxes, the titles of books – but the changes keep getting bigger and bigger. It’s up to Conrad Tesdinic, a twelve-year-old with truly terrible karma, to find the person behind it all.
  3. The Pinhoe Egg – Spells always have consequences and it’s Chrestomanci’s job to make sure everything is safely under control. Even so, in the village around Chrestomanci Castle, all sorts of secret magical misuse is going on. And when Cat Chant finds the Pinhoe egg, chaos is just the beginning.

Now, if you take the short stories in Mixed Magics separately, the order is:

  1. Charmed Life (1977)
  2. The Magicians of Caprona (1980)
  3. Witch Week (1982)
  4. “The Sage of Theare” (1982)
  5. “Warlock at the Wheel” (1984)
  6. “Carol Oneir’s Hundredth Dream” (1986)
  7. The Lives of Christopher Chant (1988)
  8. “Stealer of Souls” (2000)
  9. Conrad’s Fate (2005)
  10. The Pinhoe Egg (2006)

II. Diana Wynne Jones’ Recommended Reading Order

As it happened, like other authors, Diana Wynne Jones offered herself a reading order for her work.

  1. Charmed Life
  2. The Lives of Christopher Chant
  3. Conrad’s Fate
  4. Witch Week
  5. The Magicians of Caprona
  6. The Pinhoe Egg
  7. The short stories in Mixed Magics can be read in any order after that.

III. The Chronological Order

Diana Wynne Jones didn’t offer a proper chronological reading order, so here it is :

  1. The Lives of Christopher Chant
  2. Conrad’s Fate
  3. Charmed Life
  4. “Warlock at the Wheel”
  5. “The Sage of Theare”
  6. Witch Week
  7. The Magicians of Caprona
  8. “Stealer of Souls”
  9. “Carol Oneir’s Hundredth Dream”
  10. The Pinhoe Egg

Bonus : The Omnibus Edition

It’s more for your information, because there’s not really a new reading order with the omnibus editions of the Chronicle of Chrestomanci. There are three volumes, each collect two novels.

  1. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 1: Collect Charmed Life / The Lives of Christopher Chant
  2. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 2: Collect The Magicians of Caprona / Witch Week
  3. The Chronicles of Chrestomanci, Volume 3: Collect Conrad’s Fate / The Pinhoe Egg