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The Tough Guide to Fantasyland: The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel Paperback – October 5, 2006
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This brilliantly written satire perfectly celebrates and skewers the clichés of the fantasy genre. It is a highly recommended purchase…." —VOYA
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If you've ever yelled at the stupidity of characters, groaned at deus ex machina situations or scowled at a cliche, this is the book for you.
Arranged as a "Travel Guide", this book takes you from A-Z, listing almost everything you could encounter in fantasy novels dating as far back as Robert E. Howard or Tolkien and as recent as the works of George RR Martin (ok, not so recent from him) or Robert Jordan/Sanderson.
As such, this is not so much a book that you read from cover to cover, as it is one that you are supposed to reference at random.
Ordinarily I'd find a book such as this rather pointless, except that A) There is some humor to be found and B) The author is very perceptive about quite a few things.
As for the humor aspect of this book, I only came across one part that had me laughing out loud. Want to hear it? Sure you do. It was the fake "Tough Guide" listed at the beginning of the book as "Gandalf's Tough Guide (includes instructions on how to lead Tourists into Dark Places and then leave them stranded."
But the author really showed perception by explaining things like the following:
With so little mention of cows, where does all the leather come from?
Why are the only spiders in fantasy novels the size of houses?
Where do all these fancy silk clothes come from?
What is so special about tents and secrets?
Why are some fantasy structures bigger on the inside than on the outside and vice versa?
Why is stew the primary meal?
Where did the building materials for all these giant stone castles and towers come from?
If you're not one of those fantasy purists and can tolerate your favorite genre being put under the microscope (or magic crystal), I think there's a certain amount of enjoyment ahead.
Inside this book, I can find most everything I need to create events, points and all the problems I hope I never encounter. The different items listed like an encyclopedia, in alphabetical order, accurate and to the point.
I recommend this book for writers, gamers and anyone who wants to read accurate information that will give them a laugh.
I do however wish this book were in Kindle edition, I would not have to replace it when the notes I add inside get too much for me to read the book, the spine would not become weak and the pages would not fall out.
Well, anyway, the book even asks the tough questions, like with all the bandits and pirates, how does trade work? Where does all the food come from when the farmers are all dealing with wars, storms, evil magic and hordes of zombies? And why do horses act more like bikes?