The book is follows the point of view of a boy whose family lives in a sort of vacation spot for the real world. In their world, there are orchestrated battles and magic for the visitors to spectate and they're exploited to a certain extent. The story progresses where the boy gains power and becomes a leader of sorts and orchestrated a final battle.

I read it at least a decade ago and can't for the life of me remember the title. I know it's not much to go off, but I'm hoping that maybe someone remembers the book.

1 Answer 1


Dark Lord of Derkholm, by Diana Wynne Jones. (The link is to the Wikipedia entry, which informs me that the British editions of this book begin the title with the word "the." I don't know why anyone thought omitting that word would make any difference in the sales figures on the American site of the Atlantic.)

Cover of "Dark Lord of Derkholm" by Diana Wynne Jones. A dark, horned figure with red eyes flies on a griffon against a background of flames. An army of armored figures shoot arrows at the griffon from underneath.

The basic premise is much as you describe. Allow me to quote two quick paragraphs from the Wikipedia entry to illustrate that we definitely are talking about the same novel.

A fantasy world is dominated by its destructive tourist industry. "Mr. Chesney's Pilgrim Parties" arrange for annual group tours, evidently from our world, to experience all the cliches: wise Wizard Guides, attacks from Leathery-Winged Avians, the Glamorous Enchantress, the evil Dark Lord. It is a devastating show: farmlands are laid waste, people slain, and so on.

The head of Wizards University, Querida, determines a way to end the tours. The apparently incompetent wizard Derk will be the next Dark Lord, and son Blade the Wizard Guide for the final tour. Querida overcomes objections all around and the plan is underway.

Blade is the name of the adolescent boy you remembered -- the kid who is assigned to be a guide for some of those tourists from our world. (As I recall, he uses magic to grow a beard so he will look old enough to be taken seriously.)

The whole story is something of a spoof of the popular idea that a small group of individuals can be banded together on the spur of the moment and somehow successfully complete the Great Quest to destroy the Dark Lord, thereby supposedly freeing the rest of this fantasy world from his evil influence. (You may have heard that J.R.R. Tolkien once wrote an epic fantasy with a plot that proceeded along those general lines . . . and his approach has been imitated at least once or twice since then. Perhaps more often than that! Apparently, Diana Wynne Jones felt it was time to shake things up a bit by suggesting such things are likely to be staged.)


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