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The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The…

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel (original 1996; edition 2006)

by Diana Wynne Jones

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1,616344,492 (4.02)96
Title:The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel
Authors:Diana Wynne Jones
Info:Puffin (2006), Paperback, 256 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:Fantasy, Reference, Satire, Green Dragon

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. 50
    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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» See also 96 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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 |
Brilliant. I honestly think that anyone who is even considering penning a fantasy novel should have this book in their library. A nice companion to Dark Lord of Derkhelm. ( )
  ALisette | Jun 1, 2015 |
“Dark Lord Approved” says it all. This “tour” of all the clichés, monsters, missing heirs and magic users of most fantasy novels is witty, very funny, and very true. It pretty much covers any possible combination of characters and plot devices you might encounter in any fantasy book you read. It will have you laughing out loud in many places, especially if you recognize which books some of the clichés come from. The standard food of stew and Jones’ theory of how horses are bred in Fantasyland are hysterical; the Gnomic Utterances at the beginning of each alphabetical section are a hoot. I had not heard of several of the topics—the Marsh Dwellers, the Reek of Wrongness—so I guess I need to read more. Altogether, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is a must-have reference work. ;-) ( )
  jennorthcoast | Apr 29, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 34 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
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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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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