The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones


Published by Firebird Books ( 

October 2006

ISBN 0-595-14114-6

256 Pages

Author Wiki site:


Diana Wynne Jones is a relatively well-known name in the Fantasy genre with a bibliography that reaches back to the seventies, with several fantasy novels aimed at the young adult market. In The Tough Guide to Fantasyland it is easy to see both her love of the genre, as well as something of a commentary on the genre as a whole. Some of her best known Fantasy novels include Howl’s Moving Castle, the Dalemark Quartet, and the Chrestomanci series. This is the second edition of the seminal humor/reference/fantasy book, subtitled The Essential Guide to Fantasy Travel: Revised and Expanded Edition


With entries like DARK LORD, AMULETS, REEK OF WRONGNESS, and LEATHERY WINGED AVIANS, the book reads like the glossary for the entire epic fantasy genre. Diana Wynne Jones first published this book 1996, a time when Epic Fantasy was seeing a resurgence of sorts, with Jordan’s Wheel of Time in full swing, Goodkind’s Sword of Truth beginning to break out, and a little book called A Game of Thrones on the shelves in mass market paperback.  In the time since the book first published, The Lord of the Rings films were released, which only invigorated an already strong interest in the genre.  With the epic subset of fantasy still drawing a strong following, a new, updated edition of Jones’s guide book is timely.


The book pokes fun at the trappings/clichés of Epic Fantasy, but in a very endearing fashion.  The book can be considered one very large inside joke between readers (fans and non-fans) of epic fantasy and Jones.  Should you come to this book having read a fair share of Epic Fantasy, you will likely find yourself nodding and snickering at the CAPITALIZATION of terms, as well as the icons indicating a “cliché,” “religion,” or “transportation.”


Some of the more interesting explanations/definitions include those for ANCIENT ENGINEERING PROJECT, PROPHECY, and the lengthiest, SWORDS.  There isn’t much else to say about the contents of the book, without giving away all the tips Jones provides to potential fantasy “tourists” (i.e. readers).   However, any fan of the genre; or any writer who has aspirations of publishing in the Fantasy genre, should keep this within easy reach on their bookshelves.  One would want to ensure all the markers are hit as they travel through Fantasyland.


© 2006 Rob H. Bedford

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