This is a curious one all right. Silverlock is the hero - or anti-hero, since he's not an especially sypathetic character at the novel's opening - who's stranded in a land known simply as The Commonwealth. Here, guided by an affable chap who's shipwrecked at the same time, but who clearly knows more about The Commonwealth than he lets on, Silverlock has a series of adventures that involve many of the characters from literature. Everyone from Don Quixote to Robin Hood are here. For a while the reader is invited to play spot the influence, and it is all great fun. After a while, though, I found the idea rather ran its course and the book was a long way from over.
There is a plot, albeit a rather episodic one, which has the duo trying to help a friend who has been deprived of his inheritance and whose love is to be married to someone else. Later, the plot becomes a more personal quest for Silverlock himself, as he treks alone to fulfil his destiny.
The problem some readers may have is that some of the lighter moments get incredibly silly; characters are turned into animals, there are talking horses, meetings with the Mad Hatter and so on. All of which makes for an entertaining romp. But Silverlock's personal quest takes on a much darker turn, and it's hard to relate to the closing chapters, set, presumably, in Hell, as being part of the same book. Certainly it's hard to see they will appeal to the same readers. I'd have liked a serious personal quest or a continuation of the daftness of the early part of the novel; a mixture of the two is an odd mix indeed.