Guardians of Magic

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 8 Oct 2019

Member Reviews

I have long been a fan of Chris Riddell's work and this first installment in the Cloud Horse Chronicles did not disappoint. 

Introducing 3 initially unrelated children Guardians of Magice teaches that magic is real and is in danger. Each child discovers a gift bestowed upon them by the Forever Tree that complements their own skills and talents. Zam is an excellent baker, Phoebe a skilled musician in a cat orchestra and Bathsheba is from a long line of giant slayers. Individually, they feel slightly out of place in their home but as they flee the evils that threaten their homes, they find that together they might have what it takes to save magic.

This story is full of magic, fantasy and adventure. With detailed illustrations in Riddell's familiar style, I was quickly drawn into the world of Thrynne and grew to love the brave lead characters within a few pages. With detailed description accompanying the illustrations it was easy to picture the settings and characters depicted through the book. 

It was fun to read, challenging the stereotypes often associated with lumbering bears and golden-haired princesses! It also recognised that places where people are different might often be the places you find safety and a sense of belonging.

I will eagerly await the next installment in the Chronicles and go out on the hunt for a beautiful hardback copy to share with children in school.

I received an eARC of this book from the publishers via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
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Well, this is lovely, if you like a bit of whimsy and some glorious illustrations. It felt completely wrong to be reading it as an e-book - this deserves to be read in proper book form, curled up with an apple or two, maybe some gingerbread. 

I enjoyed the gentle prodding of gender roles, and the fact that golden-haired princesses are not always what they seem. The underlying message is of understanding and enjoying life, which has to be a good thing.

Chris Riddell's illustrations are a joy - so detailed and delicate and joyful. I like the way he takes words and ideas we know from other children's fiction and throws them into the mix, so that the story seems familiar but new at the same time.
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The leaders of 3 cities in Thrynne are set on destroying the magic Forever Tree, but a child from each is destined to receive a gift from the tree to help them try to save it. They are to be the Guardians of Magic. With ballet dancing bears, professional princesses and flying cloud horses, this book is full of magic and illustrated with Riddel's signature/beautiful drawings.
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This is an absolute magical treasury of a story which I utterly adored, from the wonderfully delightful characters to the interweaving of fairy tales into the fabric of the story.  The illustrations are truly stunning and completely captivated me as I journeyed through this richly-drawn world, meeting the most fantastic characters, and becoming caught up in their lives and stories. 
Following a wish upon the legendary cloud horses, each of the Guardians of Magic finds a magical item which has been specially made for them in order to help them protect the magic of Thrynne from those who seek to destroy it. 
The Guardians, Zam, Phoebe and Bathsheba live in different towns in Thrynne, each of which has its own problems, from mafia-like rats to tree-destroying Tin men to giant-slaying princesses …
Each of the Guardians becomes displaced from their home for different reasons linked to their magical items and happenings in their towns, but I won’t delve into this any more for fear of spoilers.  Eventually, they find refuge and a home in the Tumbledowns – a place which collects people who don’t fit in elsewhere - where they come together to hatch a plan to protect the ancient magic … 
I adored all three Guardians who are extremely likeable, brave, resourceful and determined to protect the magic of the Forever Tree.  I loved that they wished on cloud horses:  the granting of their wishes leads them on an action-packed, magical adventure which unites them in friendship and a shared path as Guardians of Magic.  
The homage to fairy tales throughout this gorgeous story is just brilliant.  I loved how familiar characters took on lives outside their tales, and were often represented in a completely different light to what a reader might imagine.  
The heart of this story relays important messages related to the need to protect the natural environment from destruction, to fight against prejudice based on preconceived notions, and the importance of finding a place where we can belong.
The Cloud Horses are the creation of dreams – I can’t wait to see where their adventures with the Guardians leads them next.  Oh, and don’t we all want our own cloud horse … just a little more wishing and believing in magic should do it!
This is a superbly enchanting and heart-warming adventure which is perfect for readers of 8+.  I’m very much looking forward to introducing it to my class who I know will be just as entranced by the characters and adventure as I was.
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The first book in Chris Riddell's new Cloud Horse Chronicles, Guardians of Magic, stands easily alongside illustrated greats like How To Train Your Dragon. I couldn't wait to buy a hard copy, having seen the ARC - the illustrations are absolutely something else. I've been teasing it in my library for the last few weeks (since I had the great fortune to meet the author and get it signed!), and I now have a queue of children keen as anything to borrow it. The story is very obviously the first in the series and takes quite some time to establish the three main characters and the setting, but it's never boring - there are always enough threads and hooks to make you think "Ooh, what's that? What's next?!". It feels very much like Alice In Wonderland, although our protagonists are rooted in their own world rather than strangers. Highly recommended and suitable from Y3 upwards.
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I really enjoyed this book. Chris Riddell is a fantastic storyteller and his illustrations are amazing.
This is a book to keep forever and share with children in years to come.
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I received a digital Netgalley copy courtesy of Macmillan Children's Books (so thank you to them!!) in exchange for honest feedback.
Chris Riddell is known as the author or the extremely popular Goth Girl and Ottaline series' and has a string of awards behind him, including 3 CILIP Kate Greenaway medals, the Costa Children's Book Award 2013 and he was the Children's Laureate 2015-2017. This was my first experience of Russell's writing and it was fantasy novel perfection!


Guardians of Magic is a fantastic, action-packed modern day fairy tale. I enjoyed the diversity of the three protagonists; Zam, a young baker's apprentice, Phoebe Limetree the musician and Bathsheba Greengrass, a giant-slayer's daughter who loves giants (particularly Phoebe, being a musician myself!). Each character has their own 'section' of the novel where we learn about their background and the different towns they come from before their stories intertwine and this was well paced, giving the reader just enough information before moving onto the next section. The plot centres around the children discovering magical items in a world where several villains want to rid the world of magic provided by the Forever Tree. These items will help the children defend magic and the legendary Cloud Horses if only they can overcome the evils in their path.
 Villainy is rife throughout Guardians of Magic and the novel is peppered with some fantastic baddies, including the rats, long abandoned by the Pied Piper, the Clockmaker and his mechanical army and a professional princess who has teamed up with a band of giant slayers. All the elements of a successful fairy tale are here but I just felt this novel was so much more as well!


The vocabulary is rich and perfect for challenging young readers, whilst also painting fantastic scenes and imagery. However, Riddell is an artist and his illustrations, for me, were the absolute heart of the novel, enhancing without overpowering.



Overall, Guardians of Magic is a quirky, humorous and dynamic modern fairytale, with a fantastic collection of 'goodies' and 'baddies' with the message of 'even if you're little you can do a lot' at its core. Themes of friendship, courage and belief run throughout and I can't wait for the next instalment!
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There are not enough stars to properly convey just how much I love this book!
It's beautifully illustrated and the story is perfect for children of all ages!
There's adversity, bravery, magic, humour and then there's the Cloud Horses. Fantastic and fabulous - this is going to be the must read children's book for this Christmas.
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Really enjoyed this tale! Lovable heroes and memorable villians, populated with interesting side characters too.
It has a fairytale quality and If I had to compare it I'd say Alice in Wonderland meets Doctor Who, but overall it has an originality. The world building executed perfectly. The illustrations beautiful as ever!
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What a fantastic children's book. Guardians of Magic certainly lives up to the expectations of Chris Ridells books.  I loved the imagery from the writing, the illustrations and such a great adventure with the children who become the guardians of magic.
I will definatley be recommending this book and shall buy a copy for my nephew as soon as it's released.
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Loved reading the story of the three main characters in this first book, that is the introduction to the Cloud Horse Chronicles. We meet Zam Zephyr, Phoebe Limetree and Bathsheba Greengrass, three teenagers, each one with specific skills. 

In order to find the place they actually fit in, they have to leave the comfort of their current homes and set out into an adventure into the unknown. In their current home towns, neither of them does have a place they fit in or are really welcome, and magic conspires to set them onto their way.

On their journey they come to realise that magic is real and that it needs help as all is not well in the world of Thrynne we get to know. The three teenagers have mighty opponents to face in order to preserve magic from being completely deleted from the world.

This is one lovely, enticing story with illustrations by Chris Riddell. I loved it.

In this book you'll find fairy tales and music, communication with animals and and a linking in with nature, as well as the re discovery of magic and the encounter of forces that oppose magic at all cost. And of course there are cloud horses, but that's not a storyline I would like to further spill. You'll have to read the book for that. Happy reading.

This review is based on an eARC I received from the publisher via Netgalley in return of an honest review.
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This, the first of Chris Riddell’s new Cloud Horse Chronicles, is an enchanting, beautifully written and illustrated fantasy tale. 

We are introduced to three children: Zam Zephyr (a young baker from Troutwine), Phoebe Limetree (a young musician from Nightingale) and Bathsheba Greengrass (the daughter of a giant-slayer from Beam). These children, with the assistance of the cloud horses, giants, lumberers and their magical objects, have been chosen to help protect the magic of the Forever tree. To achieve this they collectively need to rid their towns of the evil that want to destroy the tree and magic. These are King Rat and his followers, the Clockmaker and his mechanical henchmen and the Professional Princess and her gang of giant-slayers. 

Riddell treats us to a story that is rich in descriptive text but also contains an intriguing cast of unusual and fantastical characters, which together with the beautiful maps & illustrations, immerses the reader completely in this magical fairytale world. This series is going to appeal to all children who love fantasy and fairytales. I would happily share this book within school and I wait in anticipation of the second instalment of this tale.
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