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Dark Lord of Derkholm (1998)

by Diana Wynne Jones

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Derkholm (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,294575,763 (4.11)183
Derk, an unconventional wizard, and his magical family become involved in a plan to put a stop to the devastating tours of their world arranged by the tyrannical Mr. Chesney.
  1. 110
    The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel by Diana Wynne Jones (foggidawn, Mossa)
  2. 70
    Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Both are send-ups of fantasy conventions (and D-heavy titles!): Dealing with Dragons focuses more on fairy tales while Dark Lord of Derkholm deals more with high/quest fantasy.
  3. 20
    Witch and Wombat by Carolyn Cushman (infiniteletters)
  4. 10
    In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (nessreader)
    nessreader: both pick up on fantasy-novel tropes and wring them out like a dishcloth.
  5. 10
    The Dreamland Chronicles by Wm. Mark Simmons (TomWaitsTables)
  6. 10
    Frankie! by Wilanne Schneider Belden (infiniteletters)
  7. 11
    Magic Kingdom For Sale—SOLD! by Terry Brooks (erikrebooted)
    erikrebooted: Another crossover between the mundane and the magical.
  8. 00
    Bored of the Rings by Harvard Lampoon (TomWaitsTables)
  9. 11
    Grunts! by Mary Gentle (lquilter)
    lquilter: Send-ups of the tropes. *Dark Lord of Derkholm* is rather more humorous; *Grunts!* is rather more darkly and scatalogically humorous.

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» See also 183 mentions

English (55)  Swedish (1)  German (1)  All languages (57)
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
Oh, the joy of a Diana Wynne Jones book I've never read, at age 37! Howl's Moving Castle has been my favourite book for over 20!! years and while I didn't fall in love in quite the same way (my nickname at age 12 or 13 *was* Howl), I adored this book and the feeling of family I got from it. I loved the concept - paid tours of fantasy land - having read plenty of 'people from earth suddenly transported to a land of magic and dragons' books but never seen it run as a profitable (to some) business and from the point of view of those acting out the fantasy clichés. Absolutely full of wonderful, well built characters (as Diana Wynne Jones is so, so good at!) and I'm not sure who I liked the most. Maybe Sc...no, Kit. Or Lydda. Ah I liked everyone. Some well done scenes that are actually horrific in their own way, but done so that a younger reader could gloss over, very clever. All in all a brilliant read and I really did mean to do something else today. My mother in law is here in an hour and I really shouldn't have sat down and read a book non stop for the last 5ish hours...but I did. I regret nothing! :D ( )
1 vote clairefun | Oct 27, 2022 |
I really loved the idea here and I've read a companion book (and found it pretty amusing). However, it was a sllllloooow slog. 500 pages and the story hasn't really taken off 180 pages in? I'm sorry. I don't have time for that right now. I wanted to get into it -- I absolutely adore her "Howl's Moving Castle" but I couldn't get into this one. And I'm sad about that. ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
I absolutely adore this book, it is a hilarious, loving parody of high fantasy, while also being a fun adventure. The characters are fantastic. I would recommend it to any fantasy fan. ( )
  queenofthebobs | Jun 21, 2021 |
Chesney's Pilgrim Parties are getting out of hand. It has been forty years since Mr. Chesney, a man from another world, came over and made a pact with a demon and has forced the various nations and peoples to participate in his global theme park. Every autumn hundreds of different parties are brought in on package tours where they can experience life in a fantasy land. They must gather clues to defeat the Dark Lord and save the world with the help of their Wizard Guide. Their journey can involve tangling with pirates, escaping fanatical priests, battling the forces of evil, or just spending time with slave girls. This comes at a great personal cost to the actual inhabitants of this world. Wizard High Chancellor Querida believes she has a plan to stop it. The only problem is the Oracles have decreed that success will come only if Wizard Derk and his son are this years Dark Lord and final Wizard Guide. What could go wrong?

Wizard Derk is a bit of an outcast, having nearly caused a disaster while at the University and scandalizing the Wizarding community with his magical hybrids and personal brand of life magic. In present days he has stayed out of the way of Tourists and raised seven children with his wife, the wizard Mara. Five of those children are griffins. He's also created a menagerie of thinking animals and unusual plants with varying degrees of success. His son Blade is showing magical talent, but Derk is unwilling to send him to the University that treats differences like a disease.

This is a desert island book. 'Dark Lord of Derkholm' was and still is perfection. I have read it dozens of times over the years, and used to read it at least once every year. I need to start doing that again. The book is warm and funny and argues towards the better nature of people. I don't mean to go treacly about this, but I'm struck again at how compassionate this book is and how persuasively it shows the good that comes from embracing unique talents and different ways of thinking. Some times it fails, but the world is better off for the trying. 'Derkholm' covers some dark territory and gets messy, too, of course. The book is perfection every way I look at it.

Also, I will never stop chuckling at the Sarcastic Geese when they appear on the page: easy-peesy.


Next: 'Year of the Griffin'

Previous: 'Tough Guide to Fantasyland' ( )
3 vote ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 20, 2021 |
This one was generally as delightful as it was when I read it the first time 10 or 15 years ago. The one caveat I have is that Derk seems a little less sweet and harmless and a little more of a potentially creepy mad scientist. The creating of all kinds of weird magical animals (and magical people/animals like griffins) seems dubious morally, especially if I think about it in real-world terms instead of fantasy world terms.

It's not a major deal, but it did occasionally throw me out of the story. ( )
1 vote elenaj | Jul 31, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Diana Wynne Jonesprimary authorall editionscalculated
Campion, PaulCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jackson, GildartNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Paarma, SusannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Joseph A.Cover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sullivan, JonCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Original title
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To Robin McKinley
First words
"Will you all be quiet!" snapped High Chancellor Querida.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Derk, an unconventional wizard, and his magical family become involved in a plan to put a stop to the devastating tours of their world arranged by the tyrannical Mr. Chesney.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
Haiku summary
Comic fantasy
makes valid point: don't despoil
the lands you visit.

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Average: (4.11)
0.5 1
1 3
2 16
2.5 3
3 84
3.5 32
4 200
4.5 38
5 191

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