Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones
Greenwillow Books, New York, 2001
From my TBR pile. Read for Diana Wynne Jones month and Once Upon A Time VII.
The story takes place in a world of high fantasy, where griffins and young magicians are siblings, pigs fly and the mysterious Mr. Chesney runs Pilgrim Party tour groups from what appears to be our world. Chesney insists on all the familiar scenes, wizards, demons and horrible battles, which include the deaths of some “expendable” tourists. The tours continually wreak havoc throughout the land and destroy many inhabitants livelihoods. These people are tired of being exploited, but are helpless to fight back until the dragons show up. No suprise there.
Dark Lord of Derkholm is a parody, filled with family squabbles, depressed and drunken wizards and adolescents yearling to spread their wings, both figuratively and literally. It is a joy to read. It won the Mythopoetic Fantasy Award for Children’s Literature in 1999. There is a second book in this series, Year of the Griffin, which I hope to read sometime in April.
What a master. I was introduced to Diana Wynne Jones by Ana a couple of years ago, and felt robbed at not having found her sooner. She was a British author who somehow never received the media push granted to J.K. Rowling. I have since tried to convince every Harry Potter fan I know to read her books.
Planesrunner by Ian McDonald
Pyr, Amherst, NY, 2011
From my library TBR holds. This is the first book in the Everness series.
A great young adult novel, the first in a series, from one of my favorite science fiction authors.
Everett Singh leads a pretty normal life for a fourteen year old until the day his father is kidnapped.
Everett knows his father is a theoretical physicist, working on the Many-Worlds Theory, but when he tries to explain to the police that his father has been kidnapped they brush him off.
“Do you know what the Many Worlds Theory is?” Everett said. He leaned forward across the table. Previous occupants had doodled stars and spirals and cubes and the names of football clubs on the peeling plastic. “Every time the smallest least tiniest thing happens, the universe branches. There’s a universe where it happened, and a universe where it didn’t. Every second, every microsecond every day, there are new universes splitting off from this one. For every possible event in history, there’s a universe, out there somewhere, right beside this one.” Everett lifted a finger and drew a line through the air. “A billion universes, just there now. Every possible universe is out there somewhere. This isn’t something someone made up, this is a proper physical theory. That’s what physics means: real, solid, actual. Does that sound not so important to you? It sounds to me like the biggest thing there is.”
Through clues and an inter-dimensional map left by his father, Everett opens a gate between worlds and finds himself in a London that is at once familiar and terribly strange, dealing with people from that world, his own world and many others worlds.
McDonald does a fabulous job of making a very complex idea understandable for both young adult and adult readers. There is adventure, drama and the meaning of family wrapped up in this wonderful story and I can’t wait to read more in this series.