Diana Wynne Jones Chuck Schacht - Essay

Chuck Schacht

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The setting [of Drowned Ammet], a different section of the same imagined group of late medieval earldoms as [Cart and Cwidder], is interesting, and the main characters—the strong, active girl, Hildy, and the Oliver-like, street-wise Mitt, who appealingly represents the deserving but downtrodden poor—are generally well portrayed. However, the story falls victim to its author's excesses. For example, Mitt's concern for social justice is admirable, but when, as a six- or seven-year-old, Jones gives him lines like "Can't the poor people get together and tell the rich ones where to get off?" it all starts to sound unlikely. And, in the last third of the book, when the old gods get almost hyperactive and demonstrate a truly impressive array of tricks (e.g., instant island raising) the plot goes beyond credulity. Although Drowned Ammet has it's appealing moments, Jones has not been able to shape them into a satisfying whole; both Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea trilogy … and Lloyd Alexander's Prydain series … are better crafted examples of historical fantasy.

Chuck Schacht, in his review of "Drowned Ammet," in School Library Journal (reprinted from the April, 1978 issue of School Library Journal, published by R. R. Bowker Co./A Xerox Corporation; copyright © 1978), Vol. 24, No. 8, April, 1978, p. 85.