The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
by Diana Wynne Jones
In a brief but informative essay titled How I Came to Write This Guidebook, inside the back cover of The Tough Guide
, D.W.J. admits that her inspiration came while she was helping to edit The Encyclopedia of Fantasy
. The process of writing The Tough Guide
served, in turn, as the inspiration for Dark Lord of Derkholm
, which I have reviewed before. A lifetime of experience in writing and reading fantasy fiction served her well as D.W.J. compiled this facetious travel guide to the world of fantasy, where the reader is invited to prepare for a tour.
Recognizing the similarities among even the best fantasy tales, to say nothing of their tiresome clichés, The Tough Guide starts by assuming that all fantasy novels take place in the same world. So all tours proceed through a limited number of routes and options. Then, factoring in all the things fantasy novels never mention, the Guide shows Fantasyland to be a very, very strange world. A world whose mysterious laws are only known, if at all, to the Management (fantasy authors?), though quite a lot can be deduced.
Brief, compact, well-organized, this is precisely the book you would need if you were going to be a tourist in Fantasyland. It tells you when to worry and not to worry, what to expect from the weather and the food, and how to pronounce a lot of silly Pan-Celtic jargon. Better still, The Tough Guide is a handy reference, explaining the types of magic, characters, creatures, and other things you can expect to find in a fantasy novel...or, if you wish to write one, the literary conventions you may wish either to keep or to break. Best of all, the book is a laugh-a-page spoof of a land you would only want to visit in your imagination.
Recommended Age: 14+
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