The Pinhoe Egg

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The Pinhoe Egg
Pinhoe Egg Cover.jpeg
First edition (UK)
Author Diana Wynne Jones
Illustrator Tim Stevens[1]
Cover artist Tim Stevens[1]
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Chrestomanci
Genre Children's fantasy novel
Publisher HarperCollins
Publication date
September 2006
Media type Print (hardcover)
Pages 458[2]
ISBN 978-0-00-722854-6
OCLC 70059480
LC Class PZ7.J684 Pin 2006
Preceded by Conrad's Fate

The Pinhoe Egg is a children's fantasy novel by British author Diana Wynne Jones published by HarperCollins Children's Books in 2006. It was the last published of the seven Chrestomanci books (1977 to 2006).[3]

It revisits Chrestomanci Castle and the character of Cat Chant from her first Chrestomanci book, but also introduces the character of Marianne Pinhoe, who lives in the village near the castle and whose family practices a rather different sort of magic from any that Chrestomanci or his charges have encountered.

The Chrestomanci books are collectively named for a powerful enchanter and British government official in a world parallel to ours, who supervises the use of magic —or the Chrestomanci, an office that requires a powerful enchanter and is responsible for supervising. The Pinhoe Egg is set in our time, during the tenure of Christopher Chant, who is Chrestomanci in five of the seven books and is often called Chrestomanci as a personal name.


Marianne Pinhoe's family tries to keep their magic a secret. They don't want the "Big Man", or Chrestomanci, interfering, as he tends to do when people misuse magic. And the Pinhoes certainly are guilty of that. Gammer, the head of the Pinhoe clan, has ostensibly gone mad, but Marianne doesn't believe that she's completely 'round the twist. She's sure that Gammer's the one sending plagues to the Farleighs, a related clan that also wishes to stay out of the sights of the "Big Man". Until recently, the Farleighs and the Pinhoes had been working together, but it seems that Gammer has started a war, and it'll be hard to keep their operations under wraps for long.

Meanwhile, up at the Castle, Cat acquires a horse. He also meets the man who was bootboy at the Castle when the current Chrestomanci was a lad, Jason, and helps him and his new wife choose a house. They finally settle on Woods House, Gammer's old place, and Marianne, while showing Cat around, gives him an old egg from the attic, an egg with strong "Don't Notice" spells placed on it. An egg that is sure to arouse the interest of the "Big Man" up at the castle – something the rest of the Pinhoe clan, and Gammer in particular, doesn't want at all.


Marianne Pinhoe: Marianne is the main protagonist of the book. She is set to be the next Gammer of the Pinhoe clan, but that isn't what she wants at all. She has very strong magic, but, like many of Jones' characters, doesn't know it. She is an enchantress, although her mother trains her up to be a witch. She seems to have a lot of "dwimmer," which is a sort of magic.

Joe Pinhoe: Marianne's brother is sent to work as a bootboy (and spy) up at Chrestomanci Castle. He isn't really interested in the work, however, and mostly idles about. He is a disappointment to the family, but he'd fixed it that way on purpose. He likes to fix up contraptions using magic and machinery, and he and Roger try to turn it into a lucrative business scheme.

Eric "Cat" Chant: In the first Chrestomanci book, Cat is a very lonely character, clinging to his older sister and, later, to Janet, and distrusting the adults of the Castle. In this book, we see that he has not only grown to like and trust the people of the Castle, but he forms many new friendships, both with characters older than himself (Jason the former bootboy and his wife, Irene), and characters of his own age (Marianne). He acquires a horse (Syracuse) whom he has an intimate friendship with, and a griffin (Klartch), although Klartch had been a mistake, hatched from an egg Marianne had given him.

Roger Chant: Roger is the son of Chrestomanci (Christopher Chant) and Millie (the Living Asheth from The Lives of Christopher Chant). He, like his sister, is quite fat. Instead of wishing for a horse, he acquired a bicycle. He makes quite good friends with Joe Pinhoe, and together create a flying machine, which they work on in secret.

Julia Chant: Julia is the daughter of Chrestomanci and Millie. She caught the horse fever from Janet, and tried to ride Syracuse, but found she couldn't deal with his temperament, so he became Cat's horse. She used to have a crush on Jason, and is upset that when she learns that he is married.

Janet Chant: Janet is the other world equivalent of Cat's sister, Gwendolen. She used to live in the normal world (suspected to be our world) and got to Cat's world by the works of Gwendolen. Although she can get fiery sometimes, she is usually kind and sympathetic. Janet discovers she is one of those people afraid of horses. She, like Julia, had been infatuated with Jason, but was much more devastated than Julia when he showed up married, seeing as she had been planning to marry him in the future.

Irene: Irene is the woman who married Jason. She is described as having an "Egyptian profile, with dark hair." She, by her faithful gardener and Marianne, is called "Princess Irene." She is the kind of woman that most people end up liking, even Janet and Julia. She is a Pinhoe, and ends up buying Gammer's old house. It is strongly implied that she will become the next Gammer, seeing as she has a lot of dwimmer.

Chrestomanci: Also known as Christopher Chant. Referred to as "The Big Man" by the Pinhoes. 'Chrestomanci' is the title of the post held by a nine-lived enchanter who keeps order in the magical realms. Father of Roger and Julia Chant, and guardian of Janet Chant. Cat is apprenticed to him to become the next Chrestomanci.

Millie: Chrestomanci's wife, a kind, loving woman and a powerful enchantress.


The Pinhoe Egg was one of four runners up for Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, children's section, the sixth time Jones was a finalist for that annual literary award by the Mythopoeic Society.[4][5]

Locus subscribers voted it number six for the 2007 Locus Award, best young adult book, voted by Locus subscribers.[4] In 2009 it was a finalist for the Pacific Northwest Library Association Young Reader's Choice Awards in the intermediate division.[6]



  1. ^ a b The Pinhoe Egg -book Six (6) in the "Chrestomanci" series by Jones, Diana Wynne: HarperCollins, London 9780007228546 Hard Cover, First Edition – Nessa Books. Retrieved 11 February 2013]
  2. ^ The infobox provides data from ISFDB for the first UK edition (from "Publisher" to "OCLC Number"). The Pinhoe Egg (first edition) publication contents at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 28 April 2012.
  3. ^ Chrestomanci series at ISFDB.
  4. ^ a b "Diana Wynne Jones". The Locus Index to SF Awards: Index to Literary Nominees. Locus Publications. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Mythopoeic Awards – Fantasy". The Mythopoeic Society. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  6. ^ YRCA Nominees 2000–2009.

Chrestomanci series listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database (ISFDB). Retrieved 2012-04-28.
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