A humorous fantasy adventure from the Godmother of fantasy, Diana Wynne Jones. Winner of the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Children's Literature in 1999. A humorous fantasy from Diana Wynne Jones.
In a world next door to ours, the tourist industry is devastating the population by its desire to experience all the fantasy clichés - Dark Lords, impoverished villages, dragons etc.The Head of the University resolves to shut the tours down; the only problem being the ruthless tour-master - and his all-powerful demons. To save them all, the incompetent wizard Derk is appointed as Dark Lord in the hope that he will ruin the tours, and sure enough proceeds to fail at everything due to his general uselessness. But can failing at everything lead to a win this time?
©2013 Diana Wynne Jones (P)2013 HarperCollins Publishers Limited
For Diana Wynne Jones:
"...Her hallmarks include laugh-aloud humour, plenty of magic and imaginative array of alternate worlds. Yet, at the same time, a great seriousness is present in all of her novels, a sense of urgency that links Jones's most outrageous plots to her readers' hopes and fears..." (Publishers Weekly)
"Truly magical - guaranteed to leave you gasping - even hotter than Potter" (The Bookseller)
For The Merlin Conspiracy:
"The characterisation is first rate, the ideas are fabulous ... This is fantasy at its most inventive - canny, funny and far-reaching." (The Telegraph)
"A curiosity shop of a book ... a pleasure to lose yourself in." (The Sunday Times)
"The Merlin Conspiracy is Wynne Jones on top form ... [her] powerful narrative and her ability to create extraordinary charachers with real emotions make her more than a worthy rival to J K Rowling." (Financial Times)
"A must for all Wynne Jones fans, past, present and future." (Limited Edition)
This tongue-in-cheek story by Diana Wynne Jones is a real delight; fantasy lovers will recognise all their favourite ingredients in a very different mix.
Jonathan Broadbent as the reader does pretty well on the whole, though some of the (director's?) decisions are a little weird. The story revolves around a large family, and various members are differentiated by regional accent. This no doubt helped the reader keep track, but it does seem a bit of a stretch! Particularly odd is the choice for Colette -- she gets a French (!) accent, presumably because of her name, even though she is simply another family member. And I did find myself wishing someone had bothered to look up the pronunciation of "stasis" (nothing to do with stars!).
Still, those are just niggles; overall, a most enjoyable weekend listen.
This book had a rather interesting idea - pilgrim trips from our world into a world of magic and wonder. The magical world is being exploited like a theme park, aiming to fulfil all cliche ideas of magic of the visiting travellers. The organiser of these trips is the almighty Mr. Chesney, who holds all people in the magical world in his hand due to his power over a demon he can call his very own.
This is a very entertaining listen with all the proceedings told in a very "matter-of-fact" tone, presenting the woes and troubles of organising fake battles and a fake, but believable dark overlord. The book is funny and light-hearted, but almost sounding too mundane. Still, if you are in the mood for a light listen, definitely give this one a go.
An acceptable reading of a favourite book - but why do siblings all raised together in one family have accents ranging from RP to cod French, via Liverpool and Mummerset?! The impression given is that the narrator did not understand what he was reading...
Audible doesn't seem to provide a description of this book so, in short: a typical 'fantasy' world in a parallel earth (dragons, magic, etc) is discovered by a shady businessman from our own earth, Mr Chesney. By controlling a powerful demon, he subjugates the magical population and forces them to act out epic fantasy novel tropes a la Lord of the Rings for package tours. Good business for innkeepers and swordmakers, bad for almost everyone else. The Tour must culminate in the defeat of the Dark Lord, a very undesirable appointment that this year falls on mild-mannered nerd-wizard Derk and his large and opinionated family.
Now, the review:
I either love DWJ books or find them baffling. This one is completely on the 'love' side; enthralling, full of the weirdness and imagination of Jones at her best, but grounded in wonderful characters and a commitment to follow the strange idea as far as it will lead. This could have been mere wall to wall silliness, but it's so much more than that. It's quite a bit darker than I'd expected, with some of the fever-dream quality Jones' books often have. The sequel Year of the Griffin is also great and on Audible.
The reader does an excellent job with the very large cast of voices and is very easy to listen to.
I think this would appeal if you like Angie Sage's books - or indeed others by Diana Wynne Jones. The narrator is very good. I liked the idea that annually, someone is awarded the dubious burden of being made the bad guy or 'Dark Lord' for the benefit of other-worldly tourists on the Grand Tour. It's full of wizards, magic, dragons, fighting and intrigue and so on - there's a lot going on. Sometimes I found the plot hard to hang onto and got bored with the story, but there are some great characters. Worth persevering with.
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