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Dark Lord of Derkholm Paperback – April 10, 2001
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Groups of tourists, called Pilgrim Parties and organized by the cold-hearted profiteer Mr. Chesney, take a portal to the magical realm, where they are shepherded about the countryside by a wizard guide. Mr. Chesney sets the rules, such as that all wizard guides must have long white beards--even 14-year-old Blade--and every Party gets to "slay" the Dark Lord. No wizard wants to be chosen as the year's Dark Lord, because Mr. Chesney demands large battles that cause great devastation in the local villages and farms, and he doesn't pay very well, but he does have a captive demon to enforce his will. This year, things are going especially badly for the chosen Dark Lord, Derk. He can't seem to keep his evil forces on the right track, despite help from his son Blade, his daughter Shona the bard, and his griffin sons and daughters. His chief aide, Barnabas, is drinking heavily and muddling his spells. And the dwarfs are taking their baskets of gold as tribute to the one they say is the real Dark Lord--Mr. Chesney.
Jones spoofs many of the trappings of fantasy epics, while at the same time portraying a family, with its surface squabbles and underlying love, through a rollicking and somewhat unwieldy story. Her messages about exploitation and responsibility come through clearly. Although not as tightly focused as some of her earlier novels, the galloping pace makes Dark Lord of Derkholm a quick, fun read for her numerous fans. --Blaise Selby --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I think the book is not just great fun, but it has its darker side. In fact, I see this as one of Jones' grimmest books, which is odd because many people approach a book by Jones assuming they were written for pre-teens and only pre-teens and that they are good fun. Sadly, it is when readers attempt to put a work like Dark Lord into neat boxes such as "Juvenile Fantasy (TM) (R) (C)" when they find that her books wi ll tear its way out of hard-and-fast categories and bite them squarely in their bottoms.
It is easy to see that this is where most of the negative criticisms on this page come from. Having said that, dismissing this book as overcomplicated and vague is simply absurd if one realizes that her books were meant to be very unusual, fleeting, and surreal.
In fact, the author herself states in several interviews that the reason she writes the way she does and gets away with it is that generally, pre-teens have the easiest time accepting fantastic worlds and ultimately the best minds for cracking a difficult plot like Dark Lord's.
"Children are used to making an effort to understand."
--Article in The Medusa by DWJ
"I...relied on my readers having the nous to pick up the situation as they went along...Adults are different. They need me to do all that for them."
Having said all that, this is a wonderful book that, after having bored myself to death with the likes of Melanie Rawn, David Drake, Eldon Thompson, and David Gemmel, I come back to read again and again.Read more ›
I was especially intrigued by the idea of a human family with griffin children. I think that was my favorite thing about the book. I also enjoyed the sarcastic geese and the Friendly Cows, and all the other animals.
The whole exploitation thing was well done. When I was reading about how everyone had to change their lives around and knock down towns and things for the tours, I said to my husband, "This reminds me of the Olympics!" (We just drove through Salt Lake City recently and didn't enjoy the experience).
I didn't think the gang rape scene was too bad--you get that idea, but it doesn't actually SAY that Shona was raped (Shona, not Sukey). The whole business with the soldiers was all very creepy and unpleasant.
I gave this book 4 stars because it is a bit disjointed and hard to follow at times, and ends with a pretty serious deus-ex-machina. Jones has a tendency to end her books (from what I've read so far) with great earth-shattering changes that happen all at once. At least the demons and the gods had been established earlier in the story, so they didn't just come out of nowhere.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book, where all the conventions of sci fi fantasy, with thieves, griffins, dark lords etc are seen from the point of view of a hard working world tasked with... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Mia
What can I say. This is a great story and Diana Wynne Jones never lets you down.Published 4 months ago by STEVE
This book is amazing. I am only writing this review because you have to to give it five stars. 20th wordPublished 6 months ago by Melanie Jensen
Great kid's book. Plot moves a bit more abruptly than adults are used to, but kids love it and it's still fun to read as an adult. Read morePublished 7 months ago by G Hiles
I haven't read a bad Diana Wynne Jones book yet. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.Published 9 months ago by Regina S.
I think Diana Wynne Jones is an incredibly talented writer, and has a vivid and crazy imagination. But she is inconsistent. Read morePublished 12 months ago by TZ
It did not proceed at a very good pace and was somewhat scattered.Published 14 months ago by cathlene l. young