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A tough ride in Fantasyland,
This review is from: Dark Lord of Derkholm (Paperback)
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 outworn fantasy tropes, while 'Derkholm' is set in a fantasy world - which, of course, is simply everyday to its inhabitants - which has, for forty years, been plagued by Pilgrim Tours from the next-door world and is, as a result, suffering economically, ecologically, sociologically, and in almost every other way imaginable. The wizard Querida decides that enough is enough, and appoints wizard Derk as Dark Lord, believing he'll make such a mess of it that the tourists will give up. Derk is a quiet man who would much rather be left alone with his genetic experiments, but he turns out to be surprisingly competent up until an encounter with a dragon puts him out of action. But there are other factors working against the tours - if they can ever all get themselves on the same page.
A delightful book, and often very funny. The odd thing about it is that Derk really ought not to be a likeable character at all, his experiments (which include growing nylon plants and breeding winged horses, friendly cows, carnivorous sheep and a giant hen) being at least borderline unethical; five of his seven children are griffins, after all - but he's actually so lovely that one just handwaves this away. And all his animals, except perhaps the sheep, adore him.
The action gets confusing at times, and I have often wondered how the talented griffins manage to cook and craft without, one assumes, the benefit of opposable thumbs, but overall this is one of DWJ's best.