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The tough guide to Fantasyland by Diana…

The tough guide to Fantasyland (original 1996; edition 2006)

by Diana Wynne Jones

Series: Derkholm (Companion)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,032377,033 (3.97)104
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.
Title:The tough guide to Fantasyland
Authors:Diana Wynne Jones
Info:New York : Firebird, c2006.

Work Information

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. 00
    Notes From Small Planets by Nate Crowley (jmiserak)
    jmiserak: Fantasy travel guide that reviews that rewards hardcore fans of scifi fantasy classics.
  6. 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.
  7. 00
    The Wizard, the Witch, and Two Girls from Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou (foggidawn)
  8. 00
    Witch and Wombat by Carolyn Cushman (infiniteletters)

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» See also 104 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
Such a fun, smart-alecky tone. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
This is a highly amusing "tour guide" to fantasyland. While it will best serve as a bit of writer's humor, it also is a good way to remember what the cliches are in fantasy novels, either so that one may avoid them, or make the most use out of them. Not a book to be read as a piece of fiction, but it is an amusing tool to have in my writer's toolkit. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | Aug 6, 2020 |
It featured a fine imagination and an appreciation for the ridiculous elements in the fantasy genre, but the author was straitjacketed by the format and could not really come up with something that one would call an enjoyable read. It combined the authoritativeness of a swords and sorcery tale with the wild abandon of an encyclopedia. ( )
  rmagahiz | Jul 9, 2020 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
All said, this is a very enjoyable book to read -- in small snippets. And any writer venturing on creating his or her own tour through Fantasyland would do well to read it, and at least think twice about his or her use of any clichés skewered herein!

» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Carrel, DouglasIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Crisp, SteveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sahara, TonyIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Senior, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Short, MilesMap artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Velez, WalterCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Derkholm (Companion)

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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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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.

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

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