The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones


Leggi questo articolo in Italiano

A guide to the fantasy, a complete analysis that shows recurrent patterns and faults of this genre, all written without forgetting humor and implied references to the great work of this genre.
Keeping on reading there is my comment, here I chose to share one of the glossary entry because I believe that in this case the power of language could be perceived only by reading.

HORSES are of a breed unique to Fantasyland. They are capable of galloping full-tilt all day without a rest. Sometimes they do not require food or water. They never cast shoes, go lame, or put their hooves down holes, except when Management deems it necessary, as when the forces of the DARK LORD are only half an hour behind. They never otherwise stumble. Nor do they ever make life difficult for Tourists by biting or kicking their riders or one another. They never resist being mounted or blow out so that their girths slip, or do any of the other things that make horses so chancy in this world. For instance, they never shy and seldom whinny or demand sugar at inopportune moments. But for some reason you cannot hold a conversation while riding them. If you want to say anything to another Tourist (or vice versa), both of you will have to rein to a stop and stand staring out over a VALLEY while you talk. Apart from this inexplicable quirk, Horse can be used just like bicycles, and usually are. Much research into how these exemplary animals come to exist has resulted in the following: no mare ever comes into season on the Tour and no STALLION ever shows an interest in a mare; and few Horses are described as geldings. It therefore seems probable that they breed by pollination. This theory seems to account for everything, since it is clear that the creatures do behave more like vegetables than mammals. It also explains why the ANGLO-SAXON COSSACKS and the DESERT NOMADS appear to have a monopoly on horse-breeding. They alone possess the secret of how to pollinate them.

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

This is not a novel, but, as the title itself says, a guide to Fantasyland, realm where every fantasy adventure is set.

The author, brilliant, skilled and provided with a refined humor, images the world and its rules and characteristics and provides them to the reader in the form of a glossary with some in-depth analysis.

Each adventure (TOUR) is skillfully dealt by means of the MANAGEMENT rules.

 MANAGEMENT is the body who has arranged this Tour for you. It has made up the Rules for your comfort and convenience, so that no Tourist will ever be taken by surprise or shocked by an unexpected INCIDENT. Management reserves the right to alter the Rules in accordance with current fashions, and will admit absolutely no complaints or responsibility. It wishes you a safe and happy Tour of Fantasyland.

In the guide there is everything – and this will be noticed by each fantasy lover (I do not say reader because this works also for video games) – also the GNOMIC UTTERANCES at the beginning of each chapter.

GNOMIC UTTERANCES. These are traditional, and are set at the head of each section of the Guidebook. The reason for them is lost in the mists of HISTORY. They are culled by the Management from a mighty collection of wise sayings probably compiled by a SAGE – probably called Ka’a Orto’o – some centuries before the Tour begins. The Rule is that no Utterance has anything whatsoever to do with the section it precedes. Nor, of course, has it anything to do with GNOMES.

It’s a book to read at its pace – in the end nothing happens – but it is nice and funny and true: it provides also the proofs that the tour in Dune e Star Wars are not science fiction ones.
There are some reference to the main fantasy book (see RING, DARK LORD, LITTLE PEOPLE), and overall it provides a lucid and complete analysis of this genre that shows how in most cases ideas are not quite original but built on tested schemes.


* The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones ★★★★★

*I read this book in English

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