Happy Day 9 of Social Distancing. The locals are very restless, but Diana Wynne Jones’ books are keeping them from rioting. For now.
I listened to the audiobook of Dark Lord of Derkholm, thanks to hoopla, narrated by Gildart Jackson. I’ve previously listened to Dracula by the same narrator, so that was a little jarring at first, but I really like his narration and voices.
The only exceptions were some of his creature voices. The narrator chose a sort of nasal, bird-like voice for the griffins, which I understand in principle, but in practice it can be unpleasant to listen to after a while. He gave the dragons and demons very gravelly, scrape-y voices, so those could be a little tiring too.
Jacket blurb: 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.
I know I keep saying this about all the DWJ books I’ve read this month, but it’s been a few years since I first read and loved this one, too. The most surprising parts for me this time were how Dark it is (even though that’s literally in the title) and how upsetting the Derk/Mara subplot is! Fortunately, all works out in the end. Sort of. Except for all the bodies. There are a lot of bodies.
I honestly can’t believe how MUCH is packed into this book. It’s simultaneously a) deconstructing the entire post-Tolkien epic fantasy genre; b) introducing at least 8 main characters; c) giving each of those characters subplot growth arcs; d) introducing and explaining all of the different fantasy races and their subplots; e) satirizing the modern world and modern colonialism; f) criticizing modern habits like the glorification of violence, subjugation of peoples for their own good, racism, classism, etc etc etc.
Somehow Dark Lord of Derkholm succeeds juggling all of its many balls. And it’s fun and magical, too.
I hope March Magics is going well for you all!
I’m currently listening to Howl’s Moving Castle (via Library2Go), and then I’m going to listen to Derkholm’s sequel, Year of the Griffin (back to hoopla).