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So I really did mean to take part properly in Jenny’s Diana Wynne Jones Week, but due to work and other personal (not nice) stuff I didn’t really get the chance, although reading The Tough Guide to Fantasyland certainly cheered me up no end during what turned out to be not a great couple of days

So, to the book, and it does what it says on the cover: provides budding participants in the Tour through Fantasyland with everything they will need to know to navigate their way through the whole Quest thing.

Because on a quest is what they will surely be (and that is so ungrammatical, but I don’t care).

It is also extremely funny. You can probably enjoy this if you’ve read little fantasy, but it is so much more fun if you’ve read a lot, and gosh I seem to have done that over the years.

So all the familiar stuff is here – there is a Map (wouldn’t be fantasy without a Map), the details about your companions on the quest, whole chunks explaining magic, and the important topic of catering, which basically comes down to eating a lot of stew.

And also why there are no longer many vampires in fantasy; they’ve been enticed away to the Horror Tour where they get better pay and conditions.

One of my favourite entries was the description of a fairly regular companion-type, the Female Mercenary, who has been inspired by her unpleasant past to become a mercenary and is good in a fight. She conforms to a certain physical type (tall, thin, wiry, silent) and is neurotic. And for the detail:

You can rely on her absolutely in a fight. She can usually kill two people at once while guarding your back in between. The rest of the time she will irritate you with lots of punctilious weapons cleaning and a perpetual insistence that a proper watch be kept. […] You will end up grudgingly admiring her.

Made me laugh out loud anyway. And the rest of the book is just like this.

I may never be able to read fantasy in the same way again, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Bride of the Book God

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Scottish, in my fifties, love books but not always able to find the time to read them as much as I would like. I’m based in London and happily married to the Book God.

I also blog at Bride of the Screen God (all about movies and TV) and The Dowager Bride, if you are interested in ramblings about stuff of little consequence

If you would like to get in touch you can contact me at brideofthebookgod (at) btinternet (dot) com.

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August 2010