Diana Wynne Jones
The Tough Guide to Fantasyland
Vista 1996

A to Z of everything you need to know when undertaking a Tour of Fantasyland. Like princesses:

"Princesses come in two main kinds:
1 Wimps.
2 Spirited and wilful. A spirited princess will be detectable by the scattering of freckles across the bridge of her somewhat tiptilted nose. Spirited Princesses often disguises themselves as boys and invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms (see Princes)."

Have I heard of such princesses before? Yes, and so have you if you've read a couple of ordinary fantasy novels. Now, the author of this book has created a stereotypes-only world, or at least a guide book to it. Here you can find what you need to know about inns, dungeons, elves, wizards, bandits, swords, secret passages and stew... There are quite a lot of steretypes in this genre, as you probably know, so there is a lot to tell about Fantasyland and how to survive your tour through it.

Diana Wynne Jones is not the first trying to make a fortune out of joking about fantasy stereotypes. There are loads of light fantasy novels on the theme, but as far as I know, this is the first one constructed as a guide book. Like most guide books, you don't read this straight through, you check out some words your interested in and then put it back on its shelf. I read it that way, so I can't comment on everything in it, but in general it gives a clear-sighted and funny analysis of today's sword and sorcery and high fantasy literature. Sometimes I found that stereotypes I've encountered often enough weren't mentioned, and a couple of times I didn't recognize what the author was alluding at. Sometimes I wished that the author didn't try to be so funny, but most of the time I just smiled with her, at the literature I really like. And let all the great trilogies, tetralogies and pentalogies I've read, now almost forgotten, come back to my mind.

Karl Henriksson


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Henriksson & Henriksson 1996.