A fantasy book that I read between 2000 and 2010 (probably in the middle) that was published around that time too, that I don't remember as being particularly well known, revolved around a boy travelling through different worlds trying to find his way back home (maybe after having been thrown forwards in time to the present?) who discovers that life is controlled by mysterious robed and hooded figures playing board games. They have a big computer that checks rules for them (I think), and the story culminates in the boy breaking through the windows into the room where they're playing and then ... (I don't remember).

Along the way he meets a girl whose home planet is a hot desert with lots of dangerous animals, and a titan (?) who has been chained to a rock for eternity doomed to have his eyes pecked out by crows.

This last point reminds me of the Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix, but I'm certain that the book I'm thinking of isn't in this series. It was very much a standalone.

Very much a long shot with this description, I know, but it's been bugging me for years now and I'd really like to know what it was! It's been useless trying to google it because I just keep on turning up stories about D&D.

  • The part with the chained titan could also be a Promethus reference, although that was his liver.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 22 '16 at 12:35
  • 1
    @FuzzyBoots it was Prometheus and his liver, in the book sueelleker correctly identifies. Dec 22 '16 at 16:32

The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones.

Book cover

"You are now a discard. We have no further use for you in play. You are free to walk the Bounds, but it will be against the rules for you to enter play in any world. If you succeed in returning Home, then you may enter play again in the normal manner."

When Jamie unwittingly discovers the scary, dark-cloaked Them playing games with human’s lives, he is cast out to the boundaries of the worlds. Only then does he discover that there are a vast number of parallel worlds, all linked by the bounds, and these sinister creatures are using them all as a massive gamesboard. Clinging to Their promise that if he can get Home he is free, he becomes the unwilling Random Factor in an endless game of chance. Irresistible Diana Wynne Jones fantasy adventure, featuring an insect-loving shapeshifter, an apprentice demon hunter and a whole host of exotic characters clinging to the hope that one day they will return Home".

  • 1
    YES! thank you so much! can I ask how you found this, or did you just know?
    – Tim
    Dec 22 '16 at 16:12
  • 2
    I knew it-I love all her books.
    – sueelleker
    Dec 22 '16 at 17:49
  • This is easily the best DWJ book in my opinion :)
    – moopet
    Dec 23 '16 at 9:16

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