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The definitive edition of a cult classic by the legendary Diana Wynne Jones. Imagine that all fantasy novels--the ones featuring dragons, knights, wizards, and magic--are set in the same place. That place is called Fantasyland. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is your travel guide, a handbook to everything you might find: Evil, the Dark Lord, Stew, Boots (but not Socks), and The definitive edition of a cult classic by the legendary Diana Wynne Jones. Imagine that all fantasy novels--the ones featuring dragons, knights, wizards, and magic--are set in the same place. That place is called Fantasyland. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is your travel guide, a handbook to everything you might find: Evil, the Dark Lord, Stew, Boots (but not Socks), and what passes for Economics and Ecology. Both a hilarious send-up of the cliches of the genre and an indispensable guide for writers, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland has been nearly impossible to find for years. Now this cult classic is back, and readers can experience Diana Wynne Jones at her very best: incisive, funny, and wildly imaginative. This is the definitive edition of The Tough Guide, featuring a new map, an entirely new design, and additional material written for it by Diana Wynne Jones.World Fantasy Award Finalist A Hugo Award Finalist (Nonfiction)


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The definitive edition of a cult classic by the legendary Diana Wynne Jones. Imagine that all fantasy novels--the ones featuring dragons, knights, wizards, and magic--are set in the same place. That place is called Fantasyland. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is your travel guide, a handbook to everything you might find: Evil, the Dark Lord, Stew, Boots (but not Socks), and The definitive edition of a cult classic by the legendary Diana Wynne Jones. Imagine that all fantasy novels--the ones featuring dragons, knights, wizards, and magic--are set in the same place. That place is called Fantasyland. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is your travel guide, a handbook to everything you might find: Evil, the Dark Lord, Stew, Boots (but not Socks), and what passes for Economics and Ecology. Both a hilarious send-up of the cliches of the genre and an indispensable guide for writers, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland has been nearly impossible to find for years. Now this cult classic is back, and readers can experience Diana Wynne Jones at her very best: incisive, funny, and wildly imaginative. This is the definitive edition of The Tough Guide, featuring a new map, an entirely new design, and additional material written for it by Diana Wynne Jones.World Fantasy Award Finalist A Hugo Award Finalist (Nonfiction)

30 review for The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nataliya

    If you have read at least a handful of traditional fantasy books, no doubt that most of the tropes found in this mock A-to-Z Fantasyland encyclopedia/travel guide (for a hypothetical tour of a Generic Fantasyland, organized by a sinisterly capitalized Management) will be familiar to you. You can read this book in a traditional way - front to back cover, or just pick up any entries at random - it's just as entertaining. It's hilarious and so true, and yet not condescending or malicious, and does If you have read at least a handful of traditional fantasy books, no doubt that most of the tropes found in this mock A-to-Z Fantasyland encyclopedia/travel guide (for a hypothetical tour of a Generic Fantasyland, organized by a sinisterly capitalized Management) will be familiar to you. You can read this book in a traditional way - front to back cover, or just pick up any entries at random - it's just as entertaining. It's hilarious and so true, and yet not condescending or malicious, and does not ever degenerate into ridicule. The Guide touches on everything you expect to see in your generic fantasy epic adventure - from STEW ("what you are served to eat every single time") to HORSES ("It therefore seems probable that they breed by pollination") to MISSING HEIRS ("At any given time, half the COUNTRIES in Fantasyland will have mislaid their Crown PRINCESS/PRINCE") to BANDITS ("employed by the Management to make the early stages of the Tour more interesting") to CLOTHING ("Here, the colder the climate, the fewer the garments worn") to SCURVY ("Despite a diet consisting entirely of STEW and WAYBREAD, supplemented by only the occasional FISH, you will not suffer from this or any other deficiency disease") to WORK ("is seldom done as such in Fantasyland. When it is inevitable, it is always known as Toil") to COMMON COLD (“This is one of many viral nuisances not present. You can get as wet, cold, and tired as you like, and you will still not catch cold. But see PLAGUE”). Anyone who has ever thought about writing fantasy should become very familiar with this book. So should fantasy fans who don't take themselves and the genre too seriously. I also highly recommend it to all my fellow Terry Pratchett fans out there - since we already laugh at fantasy clichés.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shauna

    In The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones doles out such indispensable advice as how to tell whether a PERSON is good or evil by their COLOR CODING, what to expect during the various stages of your TOUR, the importance of NAMES (if you don't have one, you will always be killed sooner or later. Probably sooner.), what sort of PEOPLE makes the best companions (at least one or two LITTLE PEOPLE are reccommended- they tell jokes- though the most likely candidates would probably be FEMALE In The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, Diana Wynne Jones doles out such indispensable advice as how to tell whether a PERSON is good or evil by their COLOR CODING, what to expect during the various stages of your TOUR, the importance of NAMES (if you don't have one, you will always be killed sooner or later. Probably sooner.), what sort of PEOPLE makes the best companions (at least one or two LITTLE PEOPLE are reccommended- they tell jokes- though the most likely candidates would probably be FEMALE MERCENARY, MISSING HEIR, TOUR MENTOR, and perhaps LARGE MAN.) Neither does she shy away from the 'big' issues, covering ECOLOGY, ECONOMY, POLITICS, and even TROTS, THE. What's great is that the guide is consistently entertaining throughout. I could lift section after section at random and each would recommend the book equally well. And I do find that often myself that, with this sort of book, you pick it up thinking 'what a charming idea', but then interest is exhausted about as quickly as the author's better ideas. The next time I pick up one of my old favorite fantasies for a re-read, I will most definitely be whipping this guide out as a companion. I'm anticipating one absolutely hilarious experience there. In case you're not quite convinced yet, here's a little A-B-C-D sampling: APELIKE CANNIBALS are small, weak, white, and horrible, but where they exist they occur in great numbers, all bundled together like maggots.  They have small clawed hands and small sharp fangs, and it is by sheer numbers and persistence that they overwhelm the unwary Tourist, whom they will then eat raw.  They live underground, but not very far underground, often in places like deserted farmhouses where travelers will not expect attack; though they seem to fear daylight, they will come out at dusk as soon as those in the farmhouse have relaxed.  Just occasionally they will attack a CAMP or a strayed Tourist in open country.  They have the look of degenerate humans.  Possibly they have strayed into Fantasyland via H.G. Wells’s Time Machine. BAR SERVICE has not yet been invented.  Drinks and other orders are traditionally brought to you at your table in the INN by barmaids.  This is an enlightened arrangement by the Management because it prevents unemployment among young unmarried women and probably also keeps up the birthrate. See also EUNUCHS, MAIDS, and WAR. CHILDREN are not commonly found on a TOUR. If a Child appears and seems to wish to take part, be very wary.  She/he is likely to be either a God or the MISSING HEIR to a Kingdom. In either case this will make the Child unpredictable and capricious.  She/he will unquestionably involve you in a great deal of trouble. See THIEVES’ GUILD for the only exception to this Rule DARK LADY.  There is never one of these – so see DARK LORD instead.  The Management considers that male Dark Ones have more potential to be sinister, and seldom if ever employs a female in this role.  This is purely because the Management was born too late to meet my Great Aunt Clara.   DARK LORD (dread lord (OMT)).  There is always one of these in the background of every Tour, attempting to ruin everything and take over the world. He will be so sinister that he will be seen by you only once or twice, probably near the end of the Tour. Generally he will attack you through MINIONS (forces of Terror, bound to his will (OMT)), of which he will have large numbers. When you do get to see him at last, you will not be surprised to find he is black (see COLOUR CODING) and shadowy and probably not wholly human.  He will make you feel very cold and small.  Actually, when it comes down to it, that is probably all he will do, having almost certainly exhausted his other resources earlier on.  You should be able to defeat him, with a little help from your COMPANIONS, without too much effort.  However, the Rules state that at this stage you will be exhausted yourself and possibly wounded by MAGIC.  So be careful. Now for the full encyclopedic guide, you're just going to have to pick up the book (and if you're a fantasy lover I hope you will.) **side-note ** Ireland gets a bit of a nod in this one (We are rather fantastical you know- our current president is, in fact, a leprechaun.) PANCELTIC TOURS are normally taken separately from the rest of Fantasyland.  Here the MAP will be of only one COUNTRY, which has a Welsh name, and shows TOWNS called things like Dun Bhlaioinaidbth (pronounced Dublin) or Glas Uedhaoth (pronounced Glasgow) and rather more MOUNTAINS.  The Tour will, however, take place in the usual way, except that PORRIDGE will largely replace STEW and there will be rather more MAGIC.  But the WEATHER will be a great deal worse.  When it is not raining, everywhere will be hidden (shrouded (OMT)) in MIST. If you go on one of these Tours, you will not always find it easy to know either what is going on or what people are talking about. The Mist seems to get into everyone's brains. (view spoiler)[I can't say she's not onto something there with the mist. (hide spoiler)] PANCELTS are frequently red-haired. They wear plaids and have NAMES you must consult the glossary in order to pronounce.  By the Rules (pronounced GEAS) which govern them, they have to call ELVES Shee (pronounced Sidhe) and refer to the ENEMY as Shadow.  Otherwise they are nice people who drink a lot of the water of life (pronounced Uisce) and love to tell you LEGENDS by firelight.  They also fight a lot and rather well, since both men and women train hard from the age of ten.  But there is no such thing as an ordinary PANCELT.  Each of them is either a MAGIC USER or a BARD or a Druid (pronounced like a sneeze), or sometimes all three (in which case you pronounce it Merlin).  They are governed by strong and beautiful QUEENS called things like Maebdh Aeiolaien (pronounced Mad Eileen) or strong and serious KINGS called, for instance, Daibhaeaidhaibh MacAeraith (pronounced Dave Mate), and they appear to worship the Welsh Bard Taliesin. It is in this Bard's honour that they all sing so much, even more than the Shee/Elves do.  And, like the Elves, they are prone to go on about how very much better things were in the Old Days, when a HERO could walk in one day from Caer Dibdh to the sea by taking a shortcut through Tir n'an Og (pronounced The Many-Coloured Land). The spelling/pronunciation had me laughing.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fran

    I like this book. That said, this is not a novel, it's a clever collection of fantastic definitions and how you can best play with them when writing (and even reading) to have the most fun and punchy results. It won't be an interesting read for everybody, but if fantasy books are a pleasure for you, Wynne Jones's Though Guide to Fantasyland can -surely will- bring some laughs and much needed understanding of some common and not so common topics and cliches in fantastic literature. Wynne Jones sty I like this book. That said, this is not a novel, it's a clever collection of fantastic definitions and how you can best play with them when writing (and even reading) to have the most fun and punchy results. It won't be an interesting read for everybody, but if fantasy books are a pleasure for you, Wynne Jones's Though Guide to Fantasyland can -surely will- bring some laughs and much needed understanding of some common and not so common topics and cliches in fantastic literature. Wynne Jones style, which, if you have read Howl's Moving Castle or Castle in the Sky won't be a new thing for you, shines even when put down in short definitions and matter-of-fact paragraphs.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Jones was working on a fantasy encyclopedia with some other guys, and they kept making jokes about fantasy tropes. One of them said she should write her own encyclopedia. So she did. And then, after that, she used the idea of other-world fantasy tourism as the basis for the two Derkholm books, which amused me no end. So I like the ideas here (Food: it's always stew, never a steak, never an omelet), and I agree with Gaiman that if one were to write a work of fantasy it'd be a good idea to go throu Jones was working on a fantasy encyclopedia with some other guys, and they kept making jokes about fantasy tropes. One of them said she should write her own encyclopedia. So she did. And then, after that, she used the idea of other-world fantasy tourism as the basis for the two Derkholm books, which amused me no end. So I like the ideas here (Food: it's always stew, never a steak, never an omelet), and I agree with Gaiman that if one were to write a work of fantasy it'd be a good idea to go through this first, to make sure you're not relying on the stereotypes. But for sheer reading pleasure? Well, no, not really. Dip into it from time to time, but don't try to read it straight through, that'll bore you rigid. Library copy

  5. 5 out of 5

    Olga Godim

    This is hilarious, an absolute must for every fantasy writer. The book is a mock A to Z guide of the tropes of fantasy. Now and then, I just open it randomly for a dose of laughter, read a few entries starting with different letters, giggle, and close it again, till next time. As I writer, I can say that if you write fantasy, you can't avoid at least some of the clichés described in all their ridiculous details in this book. It's up to you to use them in an original way, if at all possible. Of a This is hilarious, an absolute must for every fantasy writer. The book is a mock A to Z guide of the tropes of fantasy. Now and then, I just open it randomly for a dose of laughter, read a few entries starting with different letters, giggle, and close it again, till next time. As I writer, I can say that if you write fantasy, you can't avoid at least some of the clichés described in all their ridiculous details in this book. It's up to you to use them in an original way, if at all possible. Of all the fantasy writers I've read, only Terry Pratchett succeeded at this task. I'd love to quote from this book, but it's practically impossible to choose the best quote. The entire book is a book of quotes. Marvelous and entertaining. Read it!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    I'm cheating. I'm moving this book to my read shelf and giving it a rating even though I haven't finished it. I don't think you can finish reading this book any more than you can finish reading a dictionary, an encyclopedia, or a tour guide. I can't even tell you how much of this book I have read. This is like a mini-dictionary of fantasy concepts. You'll be reading an entry and it will refer to other entries. You'll read those entries and jump to yet other ones. The next thing you know, you've I'm cheating. I'm moving this book to my read shelf and giving it a rating even though I haven't finished it. I don't think you can finish reading this book any more than you can finish reading a dictionary, an encyclopedia, or a tour guide. I can't even tell you how much of this book I have read. This is like a mini-dictionary of fantasy concepts. You'll be reading an entry and it will refer to other entries. You'll read those entries and jump to yet other ones. The next thing you know, you've read this book, but in no orderly fashion. The entries are very funny, very true and very insightful.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Arielle Walker

    Absolutely hilarious. The bit about the pollinating horses is probably my favourite. (No, I will not spoil it for you. You'll have to read it to see what I mean)

  8. 5 out of 5

    Pauline Ross

    This is a wonderful, wonderful book. It’s the perfect antidote to all those terribly solemn tomes full of wizards speaking portentously, hidden heirs to the kingdom, the sort who instantly become amazingly adept with a sword, and tediously earnest quests for magic McGuffins. In the guise of a guidebook (with a map - naturally), it’s actually an encyclopedia of fantasy tropes. Instead of a proper review, I can’t do better than to give some examples: [Quote] ENDLESS QUEST: See QUEST, ENDLESS. NUNNERI This is a wonderful, wonderful book. It’s the perfect antidote to all those terribly solemn tomes full of wizards speaking portentously, hidden heirs to the kingdom, the sort who instantly become amazingly adept with a sword, and tediously earnest quests for magic McGuffins. In the guise of a guidebook (with a map - naturally), it’s actually an encyclopedia of fantasy tropes. Instead of a proper review, I can’t do better than to give some examples: [Quote] ENDLESS QUEST: See QUEST, ENDLESS. NUNNERIES. The Rule is that any Nunnery you approach, particularly if you are in dire need of rest, healing or provisions, will prove to have been recently sacked. You will find the place a smoking ruin, littered with corpses. You will be shocked and wonder who could have done this thing. Your natural curiosity will shortly be satisfied, because there is a further Rule that there will be one survivor, either a very young novice or a very old nun, who will give you a graphic account of the raping and burning and the names of the perpetrators. If old, she will then die, thus saving you from having to take her along and feed her from your dwindling provisions; if a novice, she will either die likewise or prove to be not as nunnish as you at first thought, in which case you may be glad to have her along. PRINCESSES come in two main kinds: 1) wimps; 2) spirited and wilful. A spirited Princess will be detectable by the scattering of freckles across the bridge of her somewhat tiptilted nose. Spirited Princesses often disguise themselves as boys and invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms. QUEST, ENDLESS: See ENDLESS QUEST.[*] [/Quote] Essential reading for all fantasy fans. Five stars. [*] This reminds me of the very old joke - Recursion: see Recursion.

  9. 5 out of 5

    seak

    I just got this and I've only read a couple paragraphs (not even a full page mind you) and I can't stop laughing. And I'm talking about what LOL means not what you actually do. This is literally an A to Z reference book, or even more specifically, a dictionary. No chapters, unless you count the breaks between letters. I've just gone from one thing that was mentioned at the beginning and read a couple "definitions" that were semi-interrelated (as in one definition mentioned a word that I looked u I just got this and I've only read a couple paragraphs (not even a full page mind you) and I can't stop laughing. And I'm talking about what LOL means not what you actually do. This is literally an A to Z reference book, or even more specifically, a dictionary. No chapters, unless you count the breaks between letters. I've just gone from one thing that was mentioned at the beginning and read a couple "definitions" that were semi-interrelated (as in one definition mentioned a word that I looked up elsewhere). Hilarity. I can already tell that I love this book. Take this: Gnomic Utterances These are traditional, and set at the head of each section of the Guidebook. The reason for them is lost in the mist of HISTORY. They are culled from the Management from a might selection of wise sayings probably compiled by a Sage - probably called Ka'a Orto'o - some centuries before this Tour begins. The Rule is that no Utterance has anything whatsoever to do with the section it precedes. Nor, of course, has it anything to do with Gnomes. I guess I can't contain my excitement because who seriously starts writing their review after only having read a couple paragraphs? Crazy, I tell ya.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Pam Baddeley

    This is a satirical 'dictionary' of the many cliches found in fantasy fiction, principally of the epic/quest variety. I made the mistake of reading this right through - it probably comes across as much more humorous if dipped into occasionally. As I read it, like any overextended joke, it started to fall a bit flat. I enjoyed the author's novel based on this idea of 'tours' in fantasyland - The Dark Lord of Derkholm - much more, to be honest. This I rate as a 3 star read; good in parts but a bit This is a satirical 'dictionary' of the many cliches found in fantasy fiction, principally of the epic/quest variety. I made the mistake of reading this right through - it probably comes across as much more humorous if dipped into occasionally. As I read it, like any overextended joke, it started to fall a bit flat. I enjoyed the author's novel based on this idea of 'tours' in fantasyland - The Dark Lord of Derkholm - much more, to be honest. This I rate as a 3 star read; good in parts but a bit too repetitive if trying to read it in one, as I did.

  11. 4 out of 5

    C.

    At its best this is hilarious, piercing and painfully accurate. All of our favourite (and least favourite) fantastical tropes are impaled, pinned to the ground and ruthlessly ridiculed for the repetitive and overused cliches that they are. But it's also a little too much of a good thing. Hard as it is to believe, even laughing at bad fantasy gets tired after a while. Definitely one to dip into every now and again.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nicky

    A Tough Guide to Fantasyland is a wry, fun look at fantasy tropes, which any aficionado of the genre with a scrap of awareness should have noticed by now. It's not the sort of thing you can sit down and read from cover to cover, generally -- it's a reference book. It's the sort of thing you dip into, and spend a half hour here and there perusing. I miss Diana Wynne Jones, I really do.

  13. 4 out of 5

    elvedril

    This joking encyclopedia of fantasy tropes is filled with good jokes, and is really funny to browse through. However, like many works which rely upon a simple parody premise, the joke gets a little tired sometime before the end. As such reading it quickly is not encouraged.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Laura Hughes

    Bloody brilliant. Can't believe it's taken me so long to read this bad boy!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Moira Russell

    Any book that cracks me up, repeatedly, during the midst of a terrible black depressive episode gets five stars from me. A number of my Jones-fanatic friends don't like it, which surprised me. I think you have to have the right sense of nasty humour to truly appreciate it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    As I mentioned while reading this book, I'm not sure how this is Dark Lord Approved as it says on the cover, but it's definitely Sarah-approved. Essentially, this "fantasyland guidebook" lists a massive variety of fantasy cliches and tropes iin the format of an A-Z tourist's guide. It's highly funny in a sarcastic, laughing-at-itself sort of way that reminded me of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. It's also a must-read for fantasy writers, both to more or less directly show you what to avoid a As I mentioned while reading this book, I'm not sure how this is Dark Lord Approved as it says on the cover, but it's definitely Sarah-approved. Essentially, this "fantasyland guidebook" lists a massive variety of fantasy cliches and tropes iin the format of an A-Z tourist's guide. It's highly funny in a sarcastic, laughing-at-itself sort of way that reminded me of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books. It's also a must-read for fantasy writers, both to more or less directly show you what to avoid and to more or less indirectly give you ideas of what to try. (That's not to say that you should avoid doing everything this book mentions- after all, some things are done often simply because they work- but it's good to have warning of what could be considered a cliche.) You probably won't want to try reading it in one sitting- or, then again, you might. I read it in bits and pieces as I had time, and it worked quite well for that since I could easily stop when I needed to. However, if I'd started it on a summer afternoon with nothing else I absolutely had to do, I probably could've read it all the way through with minimal stops. It's just that amusing. The one thing that could've made me like this book better would be if it had been organized differently, with a section for people, a section for objects, a section for places, etc. However, the actual organization works fine, so that's a small quibble. Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of Discworld and the Hero's Guide books, as well as frequent browsers of the TV Tropes website (which this book also reminded me of), fantasy writers, and anyone who loves fantasy and doesn't mind having their favorite genre poked fun at in a friendly-teasing sort of way. You certainly won't regret reading it- and you'll know exactly what to expect should you ever end up on a Fantasyland Tour.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Mary Catelli

    "City of Wizards is normally quite a GOOD thing, since only Good WIZARDS seem able to live together. . . .There have been cities of EVIL Wizards in the past. You will occasionally come across the sites of these, reduced to a glassy slag during the ultimate disagreement." Any reader of epic fantasy or sword and sorcery will find it hilarious. Any would-be writer of epic fantasy or sword and sorcery should probably regard it as required reading. Indeed, in an online discussion, one writer told how "City of Wizards is normally quite a GOOD thing, since only Good WIZARDS seem able to live together. . . .There have been cities of EVIL Wizards in the past. You will occasionally come across the sites of these, reduced to a glassy slag during the ultimate disagreement." Any reader of epic fantasy or sword and sorcery will find it hilarious. Any would-be writer of epic fantasy or sword and sorcery should probably regard it as required reading. Indeed, in an online discussion, one writer told how she had heard of it, gone to Amazon and read a review that mentioned "STEW and other food cliches." Whereupon she placed her order and went back to her manuscript to edit it even before she got her copy. . . . Hits lots of other topics. Like Magic and Swords. Enchantress. Children. The Barbarian Horde. Mines. Minstrels. And all sorts of delights. She goes a bit overboard in places. Yes, if you go traveling in Fantasyland, you will eat a lot of Stew. It can be easily made in large batches and kept ready to serve whenever the wayfarers happen to stick their noses in the inn. And how much of the Ecology and Economics would be transparent to a traveler who does, after all, have the Dark Lord to think about. But those are quibbles. Even where she goes overboard, many fantasy writers go overboard on the other side of the ship, so it may be useful as a corrective, even there.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Scurra

    You'd never get the impression from reading her other books that Diana Wynne Jones could possibly write anything like this - not in the humorous element, because that's evident from everything she does, but in the viciousness with which she attacks and brilliantly dissects everything that's wrong in "fantasy"; even the acknowledged classics come in for a little bit of a subtle beating here. I understand that the genesis for this book arose from research she did for the wonderful Encyclopaedia of You'd never get the impression from reading her other books that Diana Wynne Jones could possibly write anything like this - not in the humorous element, because that's evident from everything she does, but in the viciousness with which she attacks and brilliantly dissects everything that's wrong in "fantasy"; even the acknowledged classics come in for a little bit of a subtle beating here. I understand that the genesis for this book arose from research she did for the wonderful Encyclopaedia of Fantasy, which required her to devour countless volumes of good, bad and indifferent novels; this was the inevitable result of piles of research notes. Every page is filled with gems (the entry on Horses is particularly fine, both for the observation about talking whilst riding and the one about pollination) and the fun of following the different trails as you almost create your own adventure is difficult to match. Anyone who loves fantasy (yes, even the dreadful stuff) will adore this book, from Adepts to Zombies...

  19. 5 out of 5

    Feles_et_libri

    Absolutely brilliant! A fun, inventive book and definitely a must-have for any fantasy lovers out there. It's not a story of course, it's in fact a dictionary/encyclopaedia about anything and anyone one would encounter during a classic fantasy adventure that pokes fun at all the tropes and clichés of the genre. From DARK LORDS to the obligatory STEW at the INN and the COLOUR CODING that always indicates the goodness/evilness of Fantasyland's inhabitants this book becomes the ultimate fantasy gui Absolutely brilliant! A fun, inventive book and definitely a must-have for any fantasy lovers out there. It's not a story of course, it's in fact a dictionary/encyclopaedia about anything and anyone one would encounter during a classic fantasy adventure that pokes fun at all the tropes and clichés of the genre. From DARK LORDS to the obligatory STEW at the INN and the COLOUR CODING that always indicates the goodness/evilness of Fantasyland's inhabitants this book becomes the ultimate fantasy guide. Anyone who has ever read any piece of classic fantasy adventure will find themselves laughing rather frequently at all the tropes. However it's not a book you can just read cover to cover like any other piece of literature. Since it's a dictionary it will probably get boring pretty soon, but you will find yourself returning to it when in need of a good laugh. Grab a bowl of stew and a tall glass of ale and enjoy! Definitely recommend!

  20. 5 out of 5

    colleen the convivial curmudgeon

    3.5 A wry and amusing journey through many of the tropes of the fantasy world(s). I quite liked the commentary about Management and what Management will put the Tourists through and how Management has seemingly little concept of how things like seasons and geography and astronomy actually work. (Management in this instance, of course, being the authors.) I don't think this book is necessarily meant to be read straight through, or needs to be, but that's how I did it. It got a bit repetitive at tim 3.5 A wry and amusing journey through many of the tropes of the fantasy world(s). I quite liked the commentary about Management and what Management will put the Tourists through and how Management has seemingly little concept of how things like seasons and geography and astronomy actually work. (Management in this instance, of course, being the authors.) I don't think this book is necessarily meant to be read straight through, or needs to be, but that's how I did it. It got a bit repetitive at times, with many of the entries referencing and pointing back to other entries. It might be fun, were I to read this again, to hop around a little and actually jump to the other entries it references. (Of course, that would be easier if the e-book version I had actually hyperlinked the "see also" bits, but they didn't. *sad face*) Anyway - It's especially amusing now that I'm reading a more traditional fantasy book and I'm finding all these bits that are lovingly mocked in the Guide. It's a little distracting for the book, but also amusing for me, personally. ^_^

  21. 4 out of 5

    Erin the Avid Reader ⚜BFF's with the Cheshire Cat⚜

    Immensely observational, acerbically witty, and endlessly entertaining. This wonderful triad of fantastically indispensable tropes make for a five-star book, in my opinion. Any work produced by Jones is guaranteed to be subversive, whether she’s slyly inserting mind-boggling, serpentine plots within what masquerades as fairly innocuous stories, to, as Virginia Woolf so eloquently put it “digging caves behind my characters”. Jones makes you think. No take woven by her clever fingers is as simply a Immensely observational, acerbically witty, and endlessly entertaining. This wonderful triad of fantastically indispensable tropes make for a five-star book, in my opinion. Any work produced by Jones is guaranteed to be subversive, whether she’s slyly inserting mind-boggling, serpentine plots within what masquerades as fairly innocuous stories, to, as Virginia Woolf so eloquently put it “digging caves behind my characters”. Jones makes you think. No take woven by her clever fingers is as simply as one thinks. So, it seems that she’s the perfect one to write a self-proclaimed “guidebook” to explore the cliches that inundate popular Fantasy literature. Jones, other than her novel Howl’s Moving Castle, is one of these brilliant writers who never really rose from the ashes of obscurity other than being dealt with by scholarly academics who seem to fervently revere her work. I think she’s wonderful in the regard that she’s like a well-kept secret, like a scrumptious ice cream shop hidden in a back-alley while Baskin Robbins thrives just a block away. I highly recommend this book for people who aspire to write Fantasy (and science fiction, depending on what you gravitate towards). What’s rather interesting is I found some of these tropes to be used extensively in famous books such as Harry Potter and Eragon. The funnier thing is, these books were published after this one. Some entries included in this “encyclopedia” are even clever enough to like fun at some concepts we carry in the real word, but she hides the satire slyly in her fantasy definitions. Read her entries for RELIGION and VIRGINS to see it, yourself. They’re far too long for me to quote in this review. I think what I appreciate most about this book is he sheer number of ways one can enjoy it. You can just simply pop it open to give yourself some laughs, or use it as a true “guide” to assist in budding fantasy writers. I, myself do not write fantasy, nor do I wish to, but I can still get vast enjoyment out of this parodical dictionary. I say, this book is a GREAT way to end a stressful year. Thanks again, Diana Wynne Jones, for being one of the most creative, passionate, entertaining writers to exist.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Smilingplatypus

    This book is a must-read for anyone who reads fantasy books, especially of the Lord of the Rings/"let's go on a quest" type. Written as though it's a tourist guide to "Fantasyland", it hilariously lampshades the genre's recurring tropes and character types. Because of its format, it's not really the sort of book that you read from start to finish -- I tried that initially and kept getting sidetracked by the cross-references, so eventually I gave it up and chose entries at random. It would be mor This book is a must-read for anyone who reads fantasy books, especially of the Lord of the Rings/"let's go on a quest" type. Written as though it's a tourist guide to "Fantasyland", it hilariously lampshades the genre's recurring tropes and character types. Because of its format, it's not really the sort of book that you read from start to finish -- I tried that initially and kept getting sidetracked by the cross-references, so eventually I gave it up and chose entries at random. It would be more entertaining for people who have read (or at least watched) Lord of the Rings, but anyone who is even slightly familiar with the fantasy genre will find something to make them laugh and say, "it's so true!"

  23. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

    Hilarious! This is a wonderful book. I loved the section on Ecology (hey, it works out so prettily) and in general, it's very clever and post-modern and what have you... not in a bad "look how clever I am" sense but a "look how cliched things have become" sense. To me the latter is always good... (though I have my stances on the irony, but that's another matter, isn't it?)

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian

    This right here is the reason I don’t normally read fantasy. Not the book, of course, but these default tropes and their brainless mix-and-match use. I mean, it’s hilarious and also a bit disconcerting to read a whole glossary full of the silliest stereotypes that each practically scream out the name of a “classic of the genre” that cranks it all the way up. This is why I have only been able to read people who are aware of all these problems and either subvert/reexamine them (Stross, Abercrombie This right here is the reason I don’t normally read fantasy. Not the book, of course, but these default tropes and their brainless mix-and-match use. I mean, it’s hilarious and also a bit disconcerting to read a whole glossary full of the silliest stereotypes that each practically scream out the name of a “classic of the genre” that cranks it all the way up. This is why I have only been able to read people who are aware of all these problems and either subvert/reexamine them (Stross, Abercrombie) or crank it way beyond “all the way up” and way into self-aware parody territory (Pratchett).

  25. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tillman

    Finally came across a copy [2006], but not really my sort of thing, I'm sorry to say. Has moments, but DNF. Another example of the unpredictable nature of (alleged) humor. Sigh.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Username

    Awesome! This guide sets the bar for fantasy writers. Avoid these cliches and you may have my attention. I will laugh every time the characters have STEW.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    I love thumbing through this book in my spare time and imagining Derk in some of the more outlandish themes. Derk of course being from ‘Dark Lord of Derkholm’ it does make me wonder, with Mrs. Jones’ evil imagination, why or how did he ever survive being a Dark Lord? :) In any case this book seems to be written much like I imagine the actual ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ would be written. It’s full of Mrs. Jones’ wry humor and it’s extremely hard to put down once you’ve picked it up. Just to l I love thumbing through this book in my spare time and imagining Derk in some of the more outlandish themes. Derk of course being from ‘Dark Lord of Derkholm’ it does make me wonder, with Mrs. Jones’ evil imagination, why or how did he ever survive being a Dark Lord? :) In any case this book seems to be written much like I imagine the actual ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ would be written. It’s full of Mrs. Jones’ wry humor and it’s extremely hard to put down once you’ve picked it up. Just to let the readers know the ‘Tough Guide’ used to be much like the ‘Tough Guide to Black Holes (unaccountably missing)’ meaning it was incredibly hard to find. Which is the reason why a first edition used copy is selling for around $100 on Barnes and Nobles website as of 8/13/09. It’s such an essential book for any fantasy collector (be it first edition of not)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    The end is near - for clichees and overdone elements of fantasy that seem to be reoccuring in every second novel or RPG. Be it the omnipresent stew - because from Dragonlance to Name of the Wind, people only ever eat stew! to invisible but barking dogs in towns or rusty, nasty traps in hundred-years-old dungeons, mysteriously working without the slightest problems when our heros enter the place - in this hilarious lexicon you will find them all. Not only a good read that leaves you wiping your t The end is near - for clichees and overdone elements of fantasy that seem to be reoccuring in every second novel or RPG. Be it the omnipresent stew - because from Dragonlance to Name of the Wind, people only ever eat stew! to invisible but barking dogs in towns or rusty, nasty traps in hundred-years-old dungeons, mysteriously working without the slightest problems when our heros enter the place - in this hilarious lexicon you will find them all. Not only a good read that leaves you wiping your tears from laughter, but a good source to find out how to improve your writing or your RPG group's next adventure!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Julie

    Diana Wynne Jones provides a humorous, tongue-in-cheek guide for Tourists of Fantasyland, a generic fantasy world incorporating every element of every fantasy novel ever... The guide gives and advice on and reveals pertinent information about all sorts of topics (from Adepts to Zombies) as well as describing how any circumstance will likely turn out. (Will you die during the Pirate Attack? Will you lose a Tour Companion in the incident involving Leather-Winged Avians? Is the red-haired girl in y Diana Wynne Jones provides a humorous, tongue-in-cheek guide for Tourists of Fantasyland, a generic fantasy world incorporating every element of every fantasy novel ever... The guide gives and advice on and reveals pertinent information about all sorts of topics (from Adepts to Zombies) as well as describing how any circumstance will likely turn out. (Will you die during the Pirate Attack? Will you lose a Tour Companion in the incident involving Leather-Winged Avians? Is the red-haired girl in your Tour group secretly a Missing Heir?) The book was entertaining, and it gets special mention just for the listing on Eternal Quests. :D

  30. 5 out of 5

    Vicky P

    As always, Jones is clever and pulls no punches, and the end result of reading her work is that you feel delight, inspiration, and preparedness to face boring tasks. This book is more nonfiction than fiction, and is essentially an alphabetical list of tropes in high or epic fantasy novels (still today, I found, while reading) marketed as a tourist's guide to a journey in another world, Fantasyland. It's a wonderful companion piece to her novels "Dark Lord of Derkholm" and "Year of the Griffin", As always, Jones is clever and pulls no punches, and the end result of reading her work is that you feel delight, inspiration, and preparedness to face boring tasks. This book is more nonfiction than fiction, and is essentially an alphabetical list of tropes in high or epic fantasy novels (still today, I found, while reading) marketed as a tourist's guide to a journey in another world, Fantasyland. It's a wonderful companion piece to her novels "Dark Lord of Derkholm" and "Year of the Griffin", which take this same idea of a fantasy world being managed by folks from "our" world, who send "normal" people over for a bit of a romp. Many of the entries made me laugh out loud, and though I consider myself to be pretty hip to most tropes, some of the entries were things I had genuinely never stopped to evaluate in fantasy stories. Highly recommend this as light reading if you need a book you know you're gonna end up spending like 2 months on anyways but you need on hand because you're stuck between your Murakami and your academia and are sick of both. (lbrh if you're reading Murakami and like, medieval scholastic philosophy at the same time, please PLEASE read this book. Or literally anything else. Love yourself.)

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