This is a wonderful, wonderful book. It’s the perfect antidote to all those terribly solemn tomes full of wizards speaking portentously, hidden heirs to the kingdom, the sort who instantly become amazingly adept with a sword, and tediously earnest quests for magic McGuffins. In the guise of a guidebook (with a map - naturally), it’s actually an encyclopedia of fantasy tropes. Instead of a proper review, I can’t do better than to give some examples:
ENDLESS QUEST: See QUEST, ENDLESS.
The Rule is that any Nunnery you approach, particularly if you are in
dire need of rest, healing or provisions, will prove to have been
recently sacked. You will find the place a smoking ruin, littered with
corpses. You will be shocked and wonder who could have done this thing.
Your natural curiosity will shortly be satisfied, because there is a
further Rule that there will be one survivor, either a very young novice
or a very old nun, who will give you a graphic account of the raping
and burning and the names of the perpetrators. If old, she will then
die, thus saving you from having to take her along and feed her from
your dwindling provisions; if a novice, she will either die likewise or
prove to be not as nunnish as you at first thought, in which case you
may be glad to have her along.
PRINCESSES come in two main kinds: 1)
wimps; 2) spirited and wilful. A spirited Princess will be detectable by
the scattering of freckles across the bridge of her somewhat tiptilted
nose. Spirited Princesses often disguise themselves as boys and
invariably marry commoners of sterling worth. With surprising frequency
these commoners turn out to be long-lost heirs to Kingdoms.
QUEST, ENDLESS: See ENDLESS QUEST.[*] [/Quote]
Essential reading for all fantasy fans. Five stars.
[*] This reminds me of the very old joke - Recursion: see Recursion.