The first time I read it my brain was in this fuzz, right after The Spellcoats, because I got the omnibus editions which are always a bad idea (for me). Not that I had any other choice back then. I rushed through the book, thought it was nice enough, and forgot all about it.
This is my second time experiencing The Crown of Dalemark, this time on audio, forcing me to take my time instead of rushing, and I am so in love with this whole quartet. WHY DID I NOT SEE THE BRILLIANCE OF THIS QUARTET BEFORE.
The book starts with Mitt, who’s in North Dalemark after the events in Drowned Ammet. He had been training to be a hearthman when he was tasked to murder Noreth Onesdaughter, who claimed to be the true Queen of Dalemark and wanted to reunite the lands. But then, it changes perspective to 200 years in the future, where a girl named Maewen meets an Undying who sends her back to the past (Mitt’s present) to take Noreth’s place, as the real Noreth had disappeared, and Maewen looked exactly like her.
The first three books were about journeys, and this one is no different – Maewen (as Noreth) leads Noreth’s followers along the king’s road. She had quests to undertake – recovering items that would prove her/Noreth to be the true Queen, but it wasn’t the individual quests that mattered the most (in fact, some seemed too easy). It was the characters, and the way they went from bickering with to tolerating each other, to trusting. Two of Noreth’s followers were Moril from Cart & Cwidder, and of course, Mitt.
Observations while listening to this book:
(1) I had completely forgotten the whole Girl from Future Dalemark Travels to Present Dalemark thing. (I am taking Mitt and Moril’s timeline to be the present, even though Future Dalemark is already in our real-life past.) I don’t know why I forgot. Did I particularly dislike this bit? Since I barely have any recollection of my first reading, I can’t say.
(2) Mitt! Mitt is my favourite character from the last three books, but I love him even more here. It’s a pity that we won’t get another story where we see Mitt growing up and learning to be the person he’s supposed to be at the end of everything.
(3) Moril! Moril is my other favourite and I wished that he would stand out more in this book. And I want to know about the painting of Moril and the story of what happens to him next. Reading/listening to this book now, I find it incredibly sad and lonely that no one remembers him or knows his name in Future Dalemark, even though his cwidder is kept in a museum.
(4) Tanaqui! My other other favourite. I want more of her, too.
(5) I remember wanting Mitt and Moril to meet so much that it annoyed me when they didn’t get along AT ALL. Experiencing this book a second time, I felt it all over again, even when I knew that they would eventually become friends.
(6) Navis! I found myself with a new appreciation for him in this story.
(7) It was nice listening to the book instead of reading for once, because now I know how some of the names and words are pronounced.
(8) I know that some DWJ fans were a bit disappointed with how the series got tied up in this book. I may have felt the same when I first read it. But now, I really appreciate being able to see what happens to Moril and Mitt and the others.
(9) I know that he’s an Undying, but having a 13-year-old girl fall for someone 200 years older is still a tiny bit discomfiting. Not enough that I don’t ship them anyway…
(10) Everything by DWJ is better on a reread. EVERYTHING. Oh, and. I like Laura Kirman’s narration.
I will be rereading Hexwood next. Looking forward to that. I hope I’ll manage to hang on to my copy long enough to finish it!