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Groups of tourists, called Pilgrim Parties and organised by the cold- hearted profiteer Mr. Chesney, take a portal to the magical realm, where they are shepherded about the countryside by a wizard guide. Mr. Chesney sets the rules, such as that all wizard guides must have long white beards--even 14-year-old Blade--and every Party gets to "slay" the Dark Lord. No wizard wants to be chosen as the year's Dark Lord, because Mr. Chesney demands large battles that cause great devastation in the local villages and farms, and he doesn't pay very well, but he does have a captive demon to enforce his will. This year, things are going especially badly for the chosen Dark Lord, Derk. He can't seem to keep his evil forces on the right track, despite help from his son Blade, his daughter Shona the bard, and his griffin sons and daughters. His chief aide, Barnabas, is drinking heavily and muddling his spells. And the dwarfs are taking their baskets of gold as tribute to the one they say is the real Dark Lord--Mr. Chesney.
Jones spoofs many of the trappings of fantasy epics, while at the same time portraying a family, with its surface squabbles and underlying love, through a rollicking and somewhat unwieldy story. Her messages about exploitation and responsibility come through clearly. Although not as tightly focused as some of her earlier novels, the galloping pace makes Dark Lord of Derkholm a quick, fun read for her numerous fans. --Blaise Selby, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Absolute classic. Delightful and engaging. A quirky twist on the fantasy genre with Diana Wynne Jones' typically well observed and slightly dysfunctional family at the heart. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Azure Aurora
The Dark Lord of Derkholm can be considered a companion novel to Wynne Jones' hilarious Rough-Guide style parody of the conventions of fantasy writing. Read morePublished 16 months ago by BookWorm
One of a handful of DWJs published under an adult rather than a juvenile imprint. This could be considered a follow-up to 'The Tough Guide to Fantasyland'; that poked fun at... Read morePublished on 6 July 2012 by phoebes_mum
I'm a bit surprised by the bad reviews on this website - I thought that this book was wonderful! The craziness in the castle was wonderful, and I thought the griffins were great. Read morePublished on 1 April 2001
Having read all the other reviews, particularly the adverse ones...I am at a loss...I loved the book. I just wallowed in it. Read morePublished on 19 Mar 2001
Compared with some of her other books, this was pretty mediocre. I sympathise with the reader who found that they couldn't tell one Griffin from the other. Read morePublished on 4 Jan 2001