The characters in this book were amazing There were a LOT of them, but I didn t have any trouble keeping them all straight after the first couple of chapters I may be weird in this respect I especially loved the griffins Kit The oldest and biggest griffin He s fifteen or so, a year older than Blade, and he s very sour and very intelligent He s also kind of a magic user Calette The oldest girl griffin She s very fast, very bossy, and very self conscious of her looks Don The other boy He had kind of the smallest part, but he may have been my favorite one of the five besides, of course, Kit D because he was so understated Lydda A great cook whose food is constantly declared godlike She thinks she s fat, and can hardly get off the ground to fly It s great Elda The youngest, and as such acts like it A general worrier.
Overall verdict This book fell a little flat, especially in the last few chapters where it was sometimes difficult to have any idea what was going on However, on re read it may prove much the same with as with Howl and Dark Lord of Derkholm will become one of my favorites.
5 stars Almost 4.
0 As I write this review, I m actually rounding up to 4 This was a fun read I liked it better than Howl s Moving Castle, which I d read earlier in 2014 There was a nice mixture of wit and magic, and some characters I could really get behind.
The concept was absurdly brilliant a fantasy world used as a theme park by Pilgrim Parties that come to live the adventure Derk is chosen to be this year s Darklord and must go out of his way to give the tourists the best possible epic thrillride Execution was nice too Jones had a way of smooth prose and timing This book was actually much darker than I d expected despite the title and I m not really sure I d call it YA , as the marketing has it The light tone though darker subject matter at times and satirical approach might have played into that, but it certainly wasn t childish Much.
There was a moment or two near the end that almost ruined the story somewhat, but things worked out fairly well by the end The ending almost disappointed me too, but then I put into perspective the type of book I was reading I m actually giving extra props for Jones being able to make me take this story seriously enough to question that ending Not to be vague, but I don t want to spoil any of it.
Anyway, this was an enjoyable read and I m interested enough to consider the sequel.
Everyone Wizards, Soldiers, Farmers, Elves, Dragons, Kings And Queens Alike Is Fed Up With Mr Chesney S Pilgrim Parties Groups Of Tourists From The World Next Door Who Descend En Masse Every Year To Take The Grand Tour What They Expect Are All The Trappings Of A Grand Fantasy Adventure, Including The Evil Enchantress, Wizard Guides, The Dark Lord, Winged Minions, And All And Every Year Different People Are Chosen To Play These Parts But Now They Ve Had Enough Mr Chesney May Be Backed By A Very Powerful Demon, But The Oracles Have Spoken Now It S Up To The Wizard Derk And His Son Blade, This Year S Dark Lord And Wizard Guide, Not To Mention Blade S Griffin Brothers And Sisters, To Save The World From Mr Chesney S Depredations Imagine that your world has real elves, dragons, wizards, and all those items necessary for a good fantasy tale Then imagine that an enterprising person from an otherworld much like ours stumbled through a portal and discovered this real fantasy world Forty years later you might have a problem much like that in this book where Mr Chesney s Pilgrim Parties come on tour wanting to enjoy a classic fantasy adventure The only problem is that Mr Chesney s contract is so airtight that it devastates the fantasy world and everyone is at their wits end trying to fulfill their obligations So when the Light Oracle and the Dark Oracle tell the ruling council what to do to end this devastation, no one asks questions Except, that is, for Wizard Derk since part of the requirement is that he becomes this year s Dark Wizard He s a mild mannered wizard who only wants to develop new forms of animals, but finds his life turned into an increasing spiral of trying to overcome chaos.
This is a unique concept for a story that hooked me from the beginning When you add in Diana Wynne Jones brand of humor you will understand why I read this book in a dead heat in one day, occasionally cackling with laughter which everyone got used to as the day progressed I will never again be able to say, when pigs fly without cracking up.
Get this book and read it.
UPDATEI m rereading this for some light bedtime entertainment Will it be as enjoyable the second time around Let s find out The answer to that question yes Yes it is.
The Dark Lord of Derkholm is one of those novels that provides an entertaining story as well as subverting the typical ideas and expectations of the fantasy genre Diana Wynne Jones is one of those authors who writes wittily and absurdly at the same time, weaving bizarre ideas together into a mix that perhaps should not work as well as it does.
The overall concept of this novel is one which hinges around the idea that people from our world or at least a world very similar travel across worlds into a fantasy land populated by peaceful groups of elves, wizards, dragons and so forth The tourism company that manages these escapades happens to have made an arrangement with the people of this world, that every time a group is brought across a show of fantasy might and magic must be performed A show that leads the tourists to believe that this world is one of magical battles and dark, evil lords A kind of roleplaying adventure if you will The year in which the story begins features the Wizard Derk having been chosen to become this year s archetypal Dark Lord Of course it also so happens that the inhabitants of this magical land have had enough of the tours, despite the tour organiser being backed by a powerful demon and so a plan begins to turn this year s tour into a means of removing the tours altogether.
I mentioned that this novel plays on the archetypes of fantasy cleverly It does so by providing a world which pretends to be what people expect from a fantasy land, when in reality the inhabitants of this world are a little settled and realistic than all of that It is this subversion of fantasy that leads to plenty of humour and also plenty of clever moments within the book, and the major reason why I can recommend this novel as a fantasy book to investigate.
From what I d heard, this is meant to be a parody of the tropes of traditional fantasy and all the tropes do seem to be represented but , as a parody, I expected it to be much funnier than it was Maybe it s just because when I think of parody I think of lovingly tongue in cheek but this book took itself far too seriously, in my opinion, to really be a funny send up.
Coupled with that is the fact that there are just so many characters and things going on and it s hard to follow or to really emotionally connect with any of the characters I mean, I get that part of the plot of the story was that there was so much going on and things were getting out of everyone s control but it just seemed like it was too much And there was one thing towards the end which tipped it over the edge i.
e view spoiler when Blade got captured and forced into a gladiatorial arena Really hide spoiler I ve only read a couple Diana Wynne Jones books before so I wasn t too sure what to expect Lately I ve not been reading reviews or even blurbs before starting a book because I want to go into it with a completely open mind Unfortunately my previous experiences with her books led me to believe this would be aimed at a younger audience so as things started getting a bit darker I was a tad perplexed.
Eventually I managed to get my mindset in the right place and realise that this book was intended for young adults and the dark behaviours seemed less out of place And at times it could be rather grim and a little unsettling Derk has a little bit of a Dr Moreau meets Dr Doolittle feel about him Blade needed and I think at the end of the book still does a good kick in the ass That character annoyed me the most I quite liked the griffins and Scales I would have liked to have seen of Mara and Shona They got relegated to the sidelines for the most part.
Apart from requiring me to shift my preconceptions out this book was really enjoyable and I can see why Diana Wynne Jones was such an acclaimed author I look forward to reading of her work.
It took me some time to get into this book, which is likely my fault I find it hard to read anything with depth than your average bubblegrum wrapper when I have a head cold, so it probably isn t a coincidence that this book finally clicked with me the same day that I started to feel better Because really, this book is often funny, wonderfully inventive, and features characters I came to care about a great deal A literal family of characters I love constructed families in my fiction, but I can also really get behind a loving biological family, too.
Just over six years ago I met the person I want to spend my entire life with, in that time I was very quickly made aware of her affection towards the fantasy author Diana Wynne Jones and regularly told to give her a try Being such a considerate husband I finally relented on the proviso that she choose me one that wasn t for kids, wasn t too massive and was one of her better novels Apparently the first two choices are already lent to a friend of ours and so I was provided with a well loved copy of this Derkholm book I quite enjoyed it, not that I m surprised by this fact, she s a highly awarded and regarded author in the genre by all those in the know, and those that don t know are quite probably the type to gush over something interminably epic.
The Dark Lord of Derkholm is actually just the wizard Derk, prophesied by an oracle to be the chosen one, the wizard who would finally bring the world peace and free it from an evil overlord who holds the world in his vice like grip via a portal from Earth Derk is an outcast in the wizard community, a man who prefers to invent interesting new creatures rather than focus on every day spells such as conjuring feasts and enchantment Every year a wizard is chosen to be the Dark Lord for a series of tourist parties from Earth arranged by the villainous bean counter Mr Chesney, a position of great importance as you re responsible for keeping the entire planet organised to service the tourists or face death by Chesney s pocket demon How the hell did she come up with this stuff Derk has help from his loving family of wizards in training and magical creatures adopted as children, even the genetically altered flying pigs are dragged in to things despite their only real desire in life to nuzzle their father, Derk.
The plot is labyrinthine, the characters plentiful, the prose incredibly playful, but it is the interraction between the many members of Derk s family that provide the real pleasure of this novel, they re all interesting and unique creations and they all have their own relationships with each other, factions and favourites etc, but as it s still technically a novel aimed at the teenage market they re all very loving towards each other when all is said and done The other great skill displayed is that of world building without info dumps, the information is provided in short bursts as it naturally comes up in each chapter, sometimes only obliquely referenced and other times actually experienced by a character, in direct contrast to one of the major issues I have with most other books in the fantasy genre, epic books that take six pages to discuss the history of a valley that you ll never come across again in an entire sixteen novel sequence type of thing.
I won t be reading of this stuff I m sure but I had a great time discovering Diana Wynne Jones all the same.
at 45%I ve been sitting on Dark Lord of Derkholm for a while now Initially I really liked it and found it humorous It reminded me of Pratchett s DiscWorld a bit in its humor only.
So color me shocked when I ran into a vaguely worded but pretty obvious gang sexual assault There was no need for it but it still happened I was shocked to find something sodark in a humorous book.
The gang rape sexual assault justthrew me out of the book and I put it down view spoiler So, the MC and his sister are ushering a huge group of criminals to a fight via a magical moving prison The criminals find a way out of their moving prison and attack everyone The MC hears his sister screaming but can t get to her Shortly after a good guy stops the criminals and re cages them The sister is crouched down on the ground with bruises and ripped clothes and as soon as they walk up to her she starts screaming Don t touch me Don t touch me She then gets hypnotized by a dragon and then everything is ok WTF Haven t picked it up since hide spoiler