Castle in the Air

Infobox Book |
name = Castle in the sky
title_orig =
translator =


image_caption = Cover from the American edition.
author = Diana Wynne Jones
illustrator =
cover_artist =
country = United Kingdom
language = English
series = The Castle Series
subject =
genre = Fantasy, Children's novel
publisher =
pub_date = 1990
english_pub_date =
media_type = Print (Hardback & Paperback)
pages =
isbn = ISBN 0-06-447345-7 (American Paperback)
preceded_by = Howl's Moving Castle
followed_by = House of Many Ways

Castle in the Air is a young adult fantasy novel written by Diana Wynne Jones, and first published in 1990. The story is set in Ingary, the setting for Howl's Moving Castle, though the two works are only loosely related.

Plot summary

"Castle in the Air" follows the adventures of Abdullah, a handsome young carpet salesman from the Sultanates of Rashput, "far to the south of Ingary". Abdullah tends to daydream constantly—so much, in fact, that he has an entire life story in which he is a prince. One day a strange traveller comes to his humble stand with a threadbare carpet which he claims is magic. Abdullah, after testing it, buys the carpet delightedly.

During the night he goes to sleep in his stand but wakes to find himself in a beautiful garden with a young woman. To Abdullah, she is the woman of his dreams and is beautiful beyond all comparison. The woman mistakes Abdullah for a woman because she has not seen any other man except her father. She introduces herself as Flower-in-the-Night. Enchanted by Flower-in-the-Night's beauty, Abdullah offers to visit her again with hundreds of pictures of various men to prove he is not a woman as she believes.

Abdullah returns to her the next night with pictures to show Flower. Presented with concrete evidence, Flower concedes that Abdullah is a man and becomes annoyed that her father kept her in such ignorance. She reveals that she is supposed to marry a Prince of Ingary (or "Ochistan," as the people of Zanzib refer to it), but has decided for herself she will marry Abdullah instead. Abdullah tells Flower about his magic carpet and how it needs a command word. They plan to elope and Abdullah returns to his stall to prepare. However, his father's first wife's relatives soon intercede and try to marry him off to two fat young women. Abdullah manages to put off marrying them and escapes to Flower-in-the-Night's garden to elope with her. Unfortunately, he arrives just as she is snatched away by a huge djinni.

Soon after, Abdullah is captured by the Sultan's mercenaries. He discovers that Flower is actually the Sultan's daughter and that it was prophesied at her birth that she would marry the first man she saw aside from her father. Enraged that his attempts to ensure Flower would marry an Ingarian Prince have been thwarted, the Sultan decides to imprison Abdullah, find his daughter, marry the two of them, and then kill Abdullah so Flower can marry someone else.

Fortunately, Abdullah is saved by his magic carpet, which appears to him because his neighbour Jamal's dog had fallen asleep on it. Abdullah escapes from Zanzib, leaving a large sum of money for Jamal and his dog to escape Zanzib on their own. Abdullah ends up in the desert and reaches an oasis. After beating several criminals, the carpet maker acquires a bad-tempered genie who grants only one wish a day while trying to cause as much harm as possible with that wish.

As a result of a wish, Abdullah ends up travelling with a bitter Strangian soldier in Ingary. The soldier, who happens to be underhanded, selfish, and angry that Ingary has taken over his country of Strangia, takes advantage of Abdullah and his genie and ends up making Abdullah's quest to find Flower-in-the-Night more complicated than he would like. The two are soon joined by a cat who can change her size and her kitten, whom the soldier affectionately names Midnight and Whippersnapper, respectively. Abdullah reluctantly allows the cats to travel with him, despite the fact he is wary and dislikes Midnight especially.

As they travel, they run into the djinn who kidnapped Flower. The djinn, Hasruel, reveals that he intends to kidnap every princess in the world because his life is in the hands of his younger brother, Dalzel, who intends to marry all the princesses. All the princesses he has acquired so far have been placed with Dalzel in a castle in the sky. Furthermore, Hasruel also reveals that he has been responsible for making all of Abdullah's dreams, both good and bad, come true and that he now intends to use Abdullah to kidnap the young Princess of Ingary.

Abdullah, after leaving the carpet, his genie, the soldier, and the cats at an inn, goes off on his own to find one of the Royal Wizards of Ingary to get to the castle in the air. When he arrives at the home of the Wizard Suliman, he is greeted by his wife Lettie. As Abdullah explains to Wizard Suliman and Lettie that a djinn will kidnap Valeria, the Princess of Ingary, Midnight enters the house and is soon recognized by Lettie as her sister Sophie, wife of Howl Jenkins, the other (currently missing) Royal Wizard.

After Suliman restores Sophie's true form, she explains how Howl divined a malevolent presence approaching their moving castle and Princess Valeria. After sending away his two apprentices, he attempted to do the same to Sophie, who had been carrying their son at the time. Their arguing distracted Howl from the djinn, who stole the castle while a distracted Howl ended up transforming and sending away his wife and then disappearing along with the castle's resident fire demon, Calcifer. Sophie, as a cat, gave birth to their son Morgan a week later.

With the spell on Sophie broken, Morgan has returned to being human as well. Meanwhile, while the soldier panics over the fact that the kitten has become a child, Hasruel steals Princess Valeria. Abdullah, Sophie, and Lettie return to the inn only to find that the soldier, Abdullah's genie, and Morgan are gone. Abdullah and Sophie decide to pursue them and head towards the stolen moving castle in the air on the magic carpet.

When they arrive, they find their lost friends, including Jamal and his dog, as well as thirty other princesses, including Flower-in-the-Night, Princess Valeria, and Princess Beatrice of the recently conquered Strangia. Together, they devise a method to escape by tricking Dalzel into revealing to Abdullah where Dalzel has hidden his brother's life. Once Hasruel is freed, Dalzel is exiled to a happier place with Abdullah's two fat fiancées as Dalzel's new brides. Abdullah's genie and carpet are freed and return to their true forms: Howl and Calcifer, respectively. The Strangian soldier, who only agreed to help everyone as long as he could marry Beatrice, is revealed to be the missing Prince Justin, who ran away from Ingary because he initially refused his older brother's order to marry Beatrice. Calcifer, at Abdullah's request, returns the castle to the ground.

Sophie and Howl, along with their son and Howl's apprentices, return to living quarrelsomely but happily in their moving castle. Abdullah and Flower marry in a double ceremony with Beatrice and Prince Justin. The grateful King of Ingary designates Flower and Abdullah as Ambassadors of Ingary, where they live happily just the way they had always imagined.

Character List

*Abdullah - A carpet merchant who is very unlucky with fate.
*Flower-in-the-Night - A Princess and Abdullah's true-love who is kidnapped by the djinns.
*The Strangian Soldier - A wandering soldier who happens to be the prince following defeat at the Battle of Strangia.
*Dalzel - The weak and feeble djinn who chooses wickedness rather than goodness. He collects princesses to be his wives.
*Hasruel - Dalzel's brother who had the characters of the Castle series to play out Abdullah's daydream.
*The Genie - A troublesome genie who is Howl under the djinns spell whose wishes normally cause trouble, rather than fortune.
*Midnight - A highly intelligent spoilt female cat who is cherished by the soldier. She is later revealed to be Sophie, a returning character from the first book "Howl's Moving Castle".
*Whippersnapper - Midnight/Sophie's kitten; he is at the top of the pecking order. His real name is Morgan.


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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Castle in the air — Castle Cas tle, n. [AS. castel, fr. L. castellum, dim. of castrum a fortified place, castle.] 1. A fortified residence, especially that of a prince or nobleman; a fortress. [1913 Webster] The house of every one is to him castle and fortress, as… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • castle in the air — n. an imaginary scheme not likely to be realized; daydream: also castle in Spain …   English World dictionary

  • castle in the air — noun absentminded dreaming while awake • Syn: ↑reverie, ↑revery, ↑daydream, ↑daydreaming, ↑oneirism, ↑air castle, ↑castle in Spain • Derivationally related forms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • castle in the air — noun A visionary project or scheme; a day dream; an idle fancy; a pipe dream; any plan, desire, or idea that is unlikely to be ever realized; a near impossibility. Syn: castle in the skies, castle in Spain …   Wiktionary

  • castle in the air — See: BUILD CASTLES IN THE AIR …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • castle in the air — See: BUILD CASTLES IN THE AIR …   Dictionary of American idioms

  • castle\ in\ the\ air — See: build castles in the air …   Словарь американских идиом

  • castle in the air — cas′tle in the air′ n. a fanciful or impractical notion or hope; daydream. Also called cas′tle in Spain′ • Etymology: 1570–80 …   From formal English to slang

  • castle in the air — a fanciful or impractical notion or hope; daydream. Also called air castle, castle in Spain. [1570 80] * * * …   Universalium

  • castle in the air — Date: 1566 an impracticable project ; daydream called also castle in Spain …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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