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The Tough Guide To Fantasyland by Diana…

The Tough Guide To Fantasyland (original 1996; edition 1996)

by Diana Wynne Jones

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1,782375,923 (4.01)100
Title:The Tough Guide To Fantasyland
Authors:Diana Wynne Jones
Info:Daw (1996), Hardcover
Collections:Your library, Read, Cover maybe done
Tags:Fic, SF, _hardback, !dunno, __check_cover

Work details

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel by Diana Wynne Jones (1996)

  1. 100
    Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones (foggidawn, Mossa)
    Mossa: More or less a sequel to The tough guide.
  2. 51
    Year of the Griffin by Diana Wynne Jones (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: Part of the same universe as The Tough Guide to Fantasyland and Dark Lord of Derkholm
  3. 10
    Bored of the Rings by Harvard Lampoon (TomWaitsTables)
  4. 00
    The Dreamland Chronicles by Wm. Mark Simmons (TomWaitsTables)
  5. 11
    The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories by James McConnachie (ed.pendragon)
    ed.pendragon: It's not just the title that's reminiscent of 'The Tough Guide', it's the fantasy element.
  6. 00
    The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou (foggidawn)
  7. 00
    Witch and Wombat by Carolyn Cushman (infiniteletters)

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Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
DWJ Book Toast, #5

Diana Wynne Jones is one of my favorite fantasy authors, growing up and now, and I was saddened by the news of her death. I can't say I'm overcome with emotion - as personal as some of her work is to me, its not like I knew her after all - but I wish I could put into words how I feel about her no longer being out there, writing new adventures and laughing at all of us serious fans thinking so hard about her words when we should simply get on with the business of enjoying them.

And that's...what I'm going to do. She's left behind a huge body of work, a large amount of which I haven't read yet, so I'm going to reread all my old favorites (and hopefully some new).

A hilarious send-up of the Fantasy genre, 'The Tough Guide to Fantasyland' acts like a guide to all "tourists" setting out on an package-trip adventure in Fantasyland, and outlines the locations and people from Anglo-Saxon Cossacks to the Vestigial Empire, and includes important entries on Leathery-Winged Avians and the proper pollination of Horses. She's missed nothing.

Here are some entries:

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.

Color Coding
is very important in Fantasyland. Always pay close attention to the color of CLOTHING, hair, and eyes of anyone you meet. It will tell you a great deal. Complexion is also important: in many cases it is coded too....[specific entries on color coding of Clothing, Eyes, Hair]

Official Management Term (OMT)
appears in this guide where necessary and in italics. OMTs are forms of words which the Management has dreamed up for use in every time a certain thing, fact, sensation, or person is mentioned. Thus STEW is thick and savory; HISTORY is lost; at the point where the party of Tourists is about to be attacked the very air is doom-laden; and a constant COMPANION on the Tour will be the rat-faced little man. OMTs perform the same function as music in films.

On some Tours it is necessary to adopt a high-falutin' form of Speech. Instead of saying "I will go out and take a look" you have to say "I shall now walk forth and examine things without." This is tiresome to have to keep up. Even more tiresome are those PANCELTIC TOURS where you have to keep remembering to say "Och aye" and "Top of the marnin' te ye." But these are the Rules.

are much in demand for various reasons:
7. Nobody wants a male Virgin at all. Young boys, yes, but there is no stipulation about Virginity. In fact, some experience is preferred.

And there's so many more. Some, like Swords can go on for pages ("[In a Sword] is a very stupid place to put your powers")while others can be summed up with the simple truth that "Nunneries are for sacking." Jones rationalizes the lack of all diseases except for "the plague" and how the ecology and economy of Fantasyland must operate.

I flipped through this mostly, hopping from article to article, but since this is a borrowed book and I didn't want to miss anything, I ended up reading straight-through. To be a great artist one has to know all the rules before one can break them, and Diana Wynne Jones wrote the book.


Next (sort of): 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
Read fantasy? Do they all start to have a certain sameness? Read this, preferably aloud to another [b:fantasy lover|84136|Fantasy Lover (Dark-Hunter, #1)|Sherrilyn Kenyon|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1171050604s/84136.jpg|2384]. You will laugh. Treat it more like a website than a book, and jump around in it. Jones accurately skewers all the tired conventions in this travel guide to fantasy.

My favorite entry is "Unfriendly Stranger." This person will either be a spy or a embittered dispossessed king who will save the day. How do you tell the difference? The hair. Both will have dark hair, but the dispossessed king's hair will simply be graying, or messy; the spy's hair will be greasy. I guess they don't have as easy access to shampoo.

So silly, but it's true! The only problem is that you will not be able to read mediocre fantasies in the same way, ever again. ( )
  JanetNoRules | Sep 17, 2018 |
I more or less liked this book- it was certainly very interesting, and funny most of the time. It had a few inappropriate subjects, something I didn't expect from this author, and after a while I sort of got bored with it. It was interesting an all, but who wants to read a dictionary? Albiet a unique, fantasy-laden dictionary. ( )
  jerenda | Jan 20, 2016 |
I ran across a reference to The Tough Guide in a recent essay about fantasy literature and women writers by Tansy Rayner Roberts. She called it “the one book every fantasy writer should read.” While I’m not presently hoping to be a fantasy writer, I paid attention to this strong recommendation and borrowed a copy of the book through interlibrary loan at work.

The Tough Guide reminds me a lot of The Meaning of Liff by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd in that it’s written dictionary-style and it’s funny. Unlike Liff, The Tough Guide is more than just a joke book. It explains the most common tropes and traditions of the fantasy genre while masquerading as a travel guide to the world found in your typical faux medieval European fantasy story.

The entries are written with a light touch of humor and with the deep knowledge of the subject matter that only Diana Wynne Jones could have brought to them. She covers everything from the map at the front of big fat fantasy novels to the questionable parts of Fantasyland, like the unrealistic diet (of stew and waybread and no vegetables?), unbalanced economies (every caravan seems to be attacked yet trade continues unhampered?), and the stereotypical characters (Gay Mage, Female Mercinary, Serious Soldier, Talented Girl, etc.) you can expect to find as you progress through your Tour.

I found this book slow going because I kept having to pause at the end of entries to let my brain work through the names of the many MANY works of fantasy that they called to mind. I agree with Tansy: if you’re going to write fantasy, this book is an essential guide to the conventions–and the overused tropes–of second world fantasy stories. If you’re a fantasy reader, you’ll find The Tough Guide to Fantasyland to be an entertaining, unusually creative work about the genre.

This review originally appeared on my blog on 21 August 2015. ( )
  alsatia | Aug 21, 2015 |
When you take a tour.... No, start again. When you take the first of your minimum of three tours to Fantasy Land, you’ll find the Tough Guide invaluable. But occasionally disconcerting: ‘The thoughtful Tourist might like to pause here and consider, since ANIMALS are so rare, what exactly the meat is that the Management puts in its STEW.’ Diana Wynne Jones must have loved epic fantasy (the kind where eldritch is an everyday word) to have skewered its clichés so charmingly and brilliantly. Oh, and there was chuckling, and a wry smile or two, and the kind of snorting where you’re glad not to be drinking tea, during the reading of it. ( )
  Bernadette877 | Jun 2, 2015 |
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carrel, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sahara, TonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Senior, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velez, WalterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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For Hannah M. G. Shapero. With particular thanks also to Chris Bell and Paul Barnett.
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Find the Map.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Canonical DDC/MDS

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Haiku summary
Discover the laws
governing fantasy worlds:
beware tongues in cheeks.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0142407224, Paperback)

Suffering from a bit of deja vu after reading your umpteenth fantasy trilogy? Seen too many magic swords, musical elves and warring wizards? Then you're ready for the funniest and most complete "tourist's" guide to Fantasyland's standard character types, plot elements, and settings ever devised.

Diana Wynne Jones describes (starting, of course, with a map) every sword-and-sorcery cliché in wickedly accurate detail, arranged alphabetically. Elves sing in beautiful, unearthly voices about how much better things used to be. Swords with Runes may kill dragons or demons, or have powers like storm-raising, but they are not much use when you're attacked by bandits. You can only have an Axe if you're a Northern Barbarian, a Dwarf, or a Blacksmith. Jones also tackles hard-hitting questions: how does Fantasyland's ecology work when there are few or no bacteria and insects and vast tracts of magically irradiated wastelands? Why doesn't the economy collapse when pirates and bandits are so active and there is no perceptible industry?

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland (U.K. Edition) was a 1997 Hugo and World Fantasy Award nominee. It's a good companion to Jones's Dark Lord of Derkholm, a fantasy about what happens when your land is turned into a theme park for questing tourist parties. Fans of Terry Pratchett's Discworld books will enjoy both. --Nona Vero

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:00 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

A unique guide to fantasy literature helps readers understand such subjects as virginity, why High Priests are always evil, how Dark Lords always have minions, and useful tips on what to do when captured by a Goblin.

(summary from another edition)

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