Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Review: The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

The Tough Guide to FantasylandThe Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the second book in my 2013 TBR Pile Challenge, and, again, I'm left wondering why I put off reading this book for so long. I found this an immensely entertaining and satirical book.

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is written as a guidebook or encyclopedia to traveling in fantasy realms. It assumes the reader is from our world, or one like it, and has ported into this fantasy world, the one where most fantasy novels are set.

There is no narrative in this book. To get a whole story around the concept, you would have to read The Dark Lord of Derkholm, which Ms. Jones wrote after the Guide, having been inspired to carry the concept further. The Dark Lord of Derkholm is about the lives of fantasy world people and creatures, who have to set up an elaborate show of being beset by an evil Dark Lord so that tourists can come by and vanquish him.

This book, instead, is a series of satiric zingers, better enjoyed the more familiar with fantasy tropes you are. It reminded me of The Devil's Dictionary, with some worldbuilding built in. It pokes fun at the flimsy worlds most fantasy novels are set in, and the assumptions one must make to accept the worlds at face value.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy but has found worldbuilding lacking, or is tired of the same old tropes. I would also recommend this to fantasy writers, so you know what to avoid.

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