Saturday, February 18, 2012

Touring through Fantasy Books

Excerpts from The Tough Guide to Fantasyland by Diana Wynne Jones

APOSTROPHES: Few names in Fantasyland are considered complete unless they are interrupted by an apostrophe somewhere in the middle (as in Gna'ash). The only names usually exempt from apostrophes, apart from those of most wizards, heroes, and companions on the Tour, are those of some countries. No one knows the reasons for this. Nor does anyone really know how an apostrophe should be pronounced, though there are theories.

APPRENTICES: Are people who are training for a trade or skill, which means they are usually quite young and bad at what they do. Most of the time they are like nurses during an operation being there only to hand the master his tools. They seem to have to do this for a good many years before they get to do anything interesting, and it is therefore not surprising that some of them get restless and either try to do the interesting stuff themselves or simply run away and join the Tour. The Rules state that if an Apprentice tries to do the interesting stuff on his/her own it will blow up in her/his face. If she/he runs away, she/he will learn all sorts of things very quickly and also probably prove to be the missing heir to a kingdom.

ARMY: There are strict rules about this. Only bad kings and the dark lord are allowed to raise an Army at the start of a Tour. This will always be vast in numbers. It will trample over everything and devastate the country as it marchces, and will get bigger and worse as the Tour goes on. This Army will also use magic in unfair ways. The Good are allowed to raise an to combat the bad one only when it is almost too late, and the Good will somehow avoid either trampling crops or eating off the countryside--probably because the Army of the Dark Lord has eaten it all already. The Rules also state that the two Armies are very evenly matched, although the Good Army is only about half the size of the other one. Do not worry, however, if you find your side apparently defeated. Your Army may be killed down to the last man, but Good will triumph all the same.

AVERAGE FOLK: Are any people inhabiting the continent who are not specifically mentioned in the list of peoples. They are not precisely normal all the same. Those who are not assassines, beggars, or thieves will be innkeepers, merchants or peasants, and therefore busy tyring to either rob you, rub you out, or cheat you. The rest will be fully occupied being taxed out of existence or dealing with a variety of magical nuisances. Otherwise they are rather like you, give or take a few hideous sores, gnarled hands, and suspicious scowls. Do not expect sympathy or help from any of them.

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