Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm Series #1)

Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm Series #1)

by Diana Wynne Jones

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064473361
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/10/2001
Series: Derkholm Series , #1
Edition description: 1ST HARPER
Pages: 528
Sales rank: 199,145
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.32(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

About the Author

In a career spanning four decades, award-winning author Diana Wynne Jones (1934‒2011) wrote more than forty books of fantasy for young readers. Characterized by magic, multiple universes, witches and wizards—and a charismatic nine-lived enchanter—her books are filled with unlimited imagination, dazzling plots, and an effervescent sense of humor that earned her legendary status in the world of fantasy.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Will you all be quiet!" snapped High Chancellor Querida.

She pouched up her eyes and glared around the table.

"I was only trying to say--" a king, an emperor, and several wizards began.

"At once," said Querida, "or the next person to speak spends the rest of his life as a snake!"

This shut most of the University Emergency Committee up. Querida was the most powerful wizard in the world, and she had a special feeling for snakes. She looked like a snake herself, small and glossy-skinned and greenish, and very, very old. Nobody doubted she meant what she said. But two people went on talking, anyway. Gloomy King Luther murmured from the end of the table, "Being a snake might be a relief." And when Querida's eyes darted around at him, he stared glumly back, daring her to do it.

And Wizard Barnabas, who was vice chancellor of the University, simply went on talking. ". . . trying to say, Querida, that you don't understand what it's like. You're a woman. You only have to be the Glamorous Enchantress. Mr. Chesney won't let women do the Dark Lord." Querida's eyes snapped around at him with no effect at all. Barnabas gave her a cheerful smile and puffed a little. His face seemed designed for good humor. His hair and beard romped around his face in gray curls. He looked into Querida's pouched eyes with his blue, bloodshot ones and added, "We're all worn out, the lot of us."

"Hear, hear!" a number of people around the table muttered cautiously.

"I know that!" Querida snapped. "And if you'd listen, instead of all complaining at once, you'd hear me saying that I've called this meeting to discuss how to put a stop to Mr.Chesney's Pilgrim Parties for good."

This produced an astonished silence.

A bitter little smile put folds in Querida's cheeks. "Yes," she said. "I'm well aware that you elected me high chancellor because you thought I was the only person ruthless enough to oppose Mr. Chesney and that you've all been very disappointed when I didn't immediately leap at his throat. I have, of course, been studying the situation. It is not easy to plan a campaign against a man who lives in another world and organizes his tours from there." Her small green-white hands moved to the piles of paper, bark, and parchment in front of her, and she began stacking them in new heaps, with little dry, rustling movements. "But it is clear to me," she said, "that things have gone from bad, to intolerable, to crisis point, and that something must be done. Here I have forty-six petitions from all the male wizards attached to the University and twenty-two from other male magic users, each pleading chronic over-work. This pile is three letters signed by over a hundred female wizards, who claim they are being denied equal rights. They are accurate. Mr. Chesney does not think females can be wizards." Her hands moved on to a mighty stack of parchments with large red seals dangling off them. "This," she said, "is from the kings. Every monarch in the world has written to me at least once protesting at what the tours do to their kingdoms. It is probably only necessary to quote from one. King Luther, perhaps you would care to give us the gist of the letter I receive from you once a month?"

"Yes, I would," said King Luther. He leaned forward and gripped the table with powerful blue-knuckled hands. "My kingdom is being ravaged," he said. "I have been selected as Evil King fifteen times in the last twenty years, with the result that I have a tour through there once a week, invading my court and trying to kill me or my courtiers My wife has left me and taken the children with her for safety. The towns and countryside are being devastated. if the army of the Dark Lord doesn't march through and sack my city, then the Forces of Good do it next time. I admit I'm being paid quite well for this, but the money I earn is so urgently needed to repair the capital for the next Pilgrim Party that there is almost none to spare for helping the farmers. They hardly grow anything these days. You must be aware, High Chancellor-"

Querida's hand went to the next pile, which was of paper, in various shapes and sizes. "I am aware, thank you, Your Majesty. These letters are a selection of those I get from farmers and ordinary citizens. They all state that what with magical weather conditions, armies marching over crops, soldiers rustling cattle, fires set by the Dark Lord's minions, and other hazards, they are likely to starve for the foreseeable future." She picked up another smallish pile of paper. "Almost the only people who seem to be prospering are the innkeepers, and they complain that the lack of barley is making it hard to brew sufficient ale."

'My heart bleeds," King Luther said sourly. "Where would we be if a Pilgrim Party arrived at an inn with no beer?"

"Mr. Chesney would not be pleased," murmured a high priest. "May the gods defend us, Anscher preserve us from that! "

"Chesney's only a man," muttered the delegate from the Thieves Guild.

"Don't let him hear you say that!" Barnabas said warningly.

"Of course he's only a man," snapped Querida. "He just happens to be the most powerful man in the world, and I've taken steps to ensure that he cannot hear us inside this council chamber. Now may I go on? Thank you. We are being pressured to find a solution by several bodies. Here"-she picked up a large and beautifully lettered parchment with paintings in the margins--is an ultimatum from Bardic College. They say that Mr. Chesney and his agents appear to regard all bards with the tours as expendable. Rather than lose any more promising musicians, they say here, they are refusing to take part in any tours this year, unless we can guarantee the safety of-"

Dark Lord of Derkholm. Copyright © by Diana Jones. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Dark Lord of Derkholm (Derkholm Series #1) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 50 reviews.
Jolliday More than 1 year ago
What if there was actually a world where fantasy adventures happened? What if they were only put on for the benefit of people from our world? What if the people from that world were made to do the pretend adventures by someone from our world? What if the people from the magical world got sick of it all? This book answers all of these questions and more in a wonderful story based around something you don't see in a lot of fantasy novels: a family. I bought this book after I'd read it from the library for years. I look forward to visiting it over and over again--it's one of my firm favorites.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Dark Lord of Derkholm is set in a fantasy world whose inhabitants have been pressured into signing a contract that forces them to conduct D&D style tours for folks from OUR world. You can just imagine the opportunities for chaos and humor that ensue.....! This book is full of memorable characters drawn with a few effortless brush strokes, tongue-in-cheek yet affectionate jabs at Tolkien and D&D fans, and a clever plot told in vivid prose. The style and wit of this story put me in mind of the Doctor Who stories written by Douglas Adams, and for a weekend read, it doesn't get any better than that!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Confession: I have been waiting for the Harry Potter book to come out forever. But I must say that since I was forced to find substitutes I have come across some of the best books ever written. Fantasy has never gotten the credit it deserves and this is an author who has several exceptional works. This is not my favorite, that title goes to The Lives of Christopher Chant but this is probably my second favorite. I'm rereading this book for the first time in over a year and I forgot how much I truely enjoyed it. This author has tons of books that are equal to almost any fantasy book I've ever read. I'd recommend this book one hundred times over.
Shmuel510 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Well, the good news is that this is an engaging page-turner. The bad news is that by the time you get to the end, you discover that the plot is a mess, and that nothing really adds up. Which is a pity. Before the final few chapters, I thought this was a much better book than it turned out to be.
Ilirwen on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a dreadful disappointment! This book, that I'd been so looking forward to reading turned out to be so bad, I was surprised it could have been written by Diana Wynne Jones at all. Not only wasn't it as well written as all the other books by her that I've read, I had two major reasons for my disappointment. One: so many animals are being used and killed and eaten. Ok, so not everyone will agree with me about that, but you should. (This is my review, I'll write what I want in it!). It pretty much ruined the book from the start. Second reason: A girl gets raped by a number of murderers/soldiers (murderers taken from prisons to be turned into soldiers of a kind) and DWJ treats that as an inconvenience, that the girl (admittedly with the help of a dragon magic worker/king) just shakes off like a migraine. I simply couldn't believe it. And then the rape is just ignored. The girl is shown being more upset about not being allowed to attend college than about being raped. She merely ruefully mentions wanting to stay away from the soldiers. I should think she'd want to. Unbelievable. (I also can't believe this gets put into a book marketed as a children's book, but well, I think I've said enough about that already.)Now I'm really scared that this isn't just about this book, but that it's all part of a bigger problem. What if I've outgrown DWJ´s books for good? What if it's not just her books but every fantasy book? Apart from a few other things, my love for books (mainly fantasy books) is the one thing that keeps me going. My life isn't all that great and if I lose this interest what's left to me?
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really think this is one of the best works by Diana Wynne Jones - equal to the Crestomanci Series. It has quiet humor, heart twinging action scenes, lots of loving family, and of course, Gryphons. It works well for both teens and adults. Its just a good, well told story.
ahandfulofconfetti on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Imagine if the Earth we lived on was right next door to a planet where magic was the norm, and dragons, elves and dwarves (among other fantastical beings) lived side-by-side with the people. That's exactly the case in Dark Lord of Derkholm, and as such, a man named Mr. Chesney created the Pilgrim Parties in order to allow Earthlings to come and visit the world. But his specifications regarding what the Pilgrims are to see are very specific, including taking part in numerous battles, sacking and destroying cities, and killing all those "expendables" (i.e. Pilgrims whose family members want offed). As such, the Pilgrim Parties have completely devastated the world. Enter Derk, the most unassuming wizard ever, who would rather spend time creating fantastic new beasts (think winged horses and griffins) and tending to his plants than having anything to do with the Pilgrim Parties. But he's got no choice, as he's been selected to be this year's Dark Lord. And that's when everything that could go wrong does go wrong.This is the second book I've read by Diana Wynne Jones, and while I didn't like it as much as I did Howl's Moving Castle, there were definitely some parts that made me laugh, made me sad, and made me frustrated with what was happening to Derk's world. It was amusing to watch Derk struggle with all the components of being Dark Lord, especially when so much was clearly not going to plan. I enjoyed reading about Derk's family - he has two human children and five griffin children - and the roles they played in trying to help their father. Mara made me angry [SPOILER] although obviously she had a reason for being absent, and it wasn't her fault at all [/SPOILER], as did all the people who swore they'd help Derk who either did a half-assed job of it, or just didn't do anything to help at all.The book is told via different viewpoints, but stuck mostly with Derk or Blade, Derk's human son, who is put in charge of the final Pilgrim Party even though he's far from a qualified wizard. I enjoyed reading about Blade's adventures, and the trouble he got into, and the ways he tried to fix everything but just made things worse. I was particularly interested in his total lack of a sense of direction, which suited him okay for translocation (think Apparation, if you're a Harry Potter fan) but definitely didn't work at all for getting a Pilgrim Party across the country to their various checkpoints. In fact, I would have liked to learn more about that, because it seemed like it was distinct to Blade alone, and I would have loved to learn why he could move himself (or anyone else he's translocating) without getting lost but couldn't manage to walk people in the right direction.There is a second book to this series, but I don't think I'm going to read it. I enjoyed reading about Derk and Blade, and the griffins, and the ways they were trying to get rid of Mr. Chesney. The twists and turns in the story line were engaging and interesting, and kept me going through a very long book (over 500 pages, and while I enjoyed the story I felt the length, if that makes sense), and I felt invested in the story and the characters. But I'm okay with being done with this world, and don't think I'll re-read this book again. It was good for a one-shot read, if you will, but isn't something I feel the need to revisit, unlike my feelings regarding Howl's Moving Castle, which I adored.
librisissimo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Substance: Interesting premise of a world held hostage to a promoter with a demon in his pocket (literally), where everyone wants out of the deal. Other-world "pilgrims" experience a hands-on adventure with faux Dark Lords, who are real wizards, and all the trimmings. The catch is that the dirt, cold, wounds, and death are real. Entertaining characters, some depth in moral dimensions; not entirely sure if there is a conclusive "moral to the story other than it is evil to play around with other people's lives for profit (or anything else). Style: Straight-forward, some humor. A few continuity problems.
farnsworthk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took a while to get into this one, but it grew on me. Good fantasy read that pulls a lot of cliches.
bluesalamanders on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A world of wizards and dragons and magic is being exploited by a man from another world, who uses their world as a magical fantasy tour theme park. Powerful wizards consult an Oracle to discover the means by which they can take back their world.Then, things start getting a little out of hand.Dark Lord of Derkholm is a satire of the classic epic fantasy genre. The hero's quests are faked expeditions undertaken by tourists instead of actual heroes, and when Derk and his rather unusual family are placed in charge of this year's quests, everything goes awry.Fantastic book! Highly recommended.
lsubia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love this book! During a period of Harry Potter withdrawal I found this book by Dianna Wynne Jones and it completely answered my craving for intelligent, well written, Tolkienesque storytelling. I'm inclined to think this is her best book, and I've pretty well read them all. (Deep Secret is my second favorite DWJ book.) Both of these books seem to be written with an older audience in mind. They are sophisticated, subtle, and completely engaging. Why someone hasn't tried to make a movie of this book is beyond me. Studio Ghibli, Dreamworks, and Disney, come and get it, please!
Crewman_Number_6 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really like Diana Wynne Jones, and I thought this story was very original and creative; however, I struggled a little getting through it. It never really engaged me like her other books.
kpickett on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A hilarious fantasy where, just next door to our world, there exhists a magical realm, and you can go there for the low low price of... That's right, Mr. Chesney has turned this magical Kingdom into a tourist destination and as he charges us regular folks for the chance to be in a Pilgrim Party he is exploiting this special place. When Derk is chosen as the Dark Lord for the years Pilgrim Parties he is not excited. He has to turn his beautiful cottage into an evil castle, his happy cows into mennacing orks. The tourist season falls apart as everything seems to go wrong, until Mr. Chesney has to come and fix it himself.
jjmcgaffey on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It took me a while to get into it this time, but the ending is excellent - good and sensible tying-up of all the loose ends (well, most of them...)
Crowyhead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Derk is an excellent wizard, but he just wants to be left alone with his experiments. No such luck -- he's been appointed the Dark Lord this year so that Mr. Chesney's Pilgrim Tours (tourists from another world much like ours) will have an archenemy to fight. None of the denizens of Derk's world like the tours, because they're expensive and disruptive, and every year people are killed and crops are spoiled due to the wars staged for the Pilgrims. Mr. Chesney, however, has a pet demon, and it doesn't do to cross him. So Derk, his wife, Shona and Blade (his two human children), and his five griffin children (they're magically-genetically engineered, and are very much part of the family) must work to transform their homestead into a Dark Fortress and pool their talents to carry off the illusion the Derk is a formidable opponent. This is all hard enough, but when Derk is injured in an unfortunate encounter with a dragon, his kids have to take on the majority of the organizing. Chaos, of course, ensues.What I really enjoyed about this was that it's absolutely hilarious and does a great job of sending up the high fantasy genre, but the characters are also very well drawn and reading about Derk's odd family is truly a delight. I'm really looking forward to reading Year of the Griffin, the sequel.
maita on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mr. Chesney has enslaved the world of Wizrd Dirk for over 40 years. It is time to end it. The White and Black Oracle says only Wizrd Dirk and his family are the ones to save them. And so everybody relied on Wizard Dirk to fail miserably so that their world would be released. On the other hand, Wizrd Dirk has other ideas. One of them is hitching a tent in his balcony and camping with his flying pigs while humans are trapped in their world plagued by dozens of dragons.So funny, so entertaining and so loving it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderful complex story, imaginative and well thought and well written. Traveling you to another place and time completly, the book engages you in the story so as it moves along you are there beside the griffins. The beginning was confusing as the author briefly described some, then out of the blue there are talking grifins in the kitchen. Other than that, I enjoyed the book and think those that haven't yet would rank it a five-star story as soon as they devour this book and get themselves lost in the intricae worlds of darkholm, and of course the dark lord himself. Some things are on a high confusing level in the beginning, and you have this deep image in your mind of the scenery/ objects and later you get a bit more detail that proves you wrong. Of course, that was only a tiny problem compared to the wonderful story plot, intertwined and perfect speed. Not slow moving, but not too fast, this is definetly a five star story. &hearts &hearts &hearts &hearts &hearts
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Moonshadow~I tjink you are A BATMAN COPY CAT!!!! 3 AND A HALF STARS!!!<P> Critickid~A good start. Work on grammar and punctuation. Where is your other story, by the way? Four stars.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Scary. It's good, but scay.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haven't read the other story, but this is cool! :3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Never read the other story (finally finding time to do something other than hw) but this seems very interesting so far!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have so many fond memories of this book. It is funny, dramatic, and incredibly well written. It is, however very much aimed at teenagers, not adults.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dark lord of derkholmis awesome
Anonymous More than 1 year ago