who knew that there was a sequel to "howl's moving castle"? i'll let you know who didn't know. yeah, that would be me. which is extra funny because "howl's moving castle" is one of my favourite books of all time (as well as an excellent animated film by famed director hayao miyazaki). bad llama. anyway, although howl, sophie, and calcifer, as well as several other residents of ingary that were introduced in "howl's moving castle" make appearances in "castle in the air", the latter does not really build on the plot of the former.
in "castle in the air" the story centres on a young and starry-eyed rug merchant named abdullah, who lives in the desert city of zanzib. he spends much of his time dreaming that he is actually a prince who was stolen from his royal family by bandits and will one day marry a princess, etc. one day he experiences a chance meeting with a strange man who sells him a magic carpet and from there the story takes off (ha!). the magic carpet transports abdullah to the garden of the princess flower-in-the-night. they fall in love, but the princess is stolen by a djinn. abdullah thusly embarks on a quest to rescue the princess acquiring a genie in a bottle along the way. can you say aladdin? anyway, it's a fun story, though i do wish that my favourite ingarian trio played more prominent roles. ah well. there's a third book to the series that is coming out this summer (house of many ways). i highly recommend you read the works of this great british writer if you enjoy high fantasy... anything along the lines of j. k. rowling, o. r. melling, charles de lint or pamela dean.