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noun wan·der·lust \ˈwän-dər-ˌləst\

  • a strong desire to travel
  • strong longing for or impulse toward wandering

This week I put in Wanderlust into Amazon as my search term. But I had no idea how far the adventure might take me when in less than a minute, up popped one of my all-time favorite authors, Diana Wynne Jones and a book I’d heard of years ago but never read. Done.

On the off-chance that you’re also in the market for a package Tough Guide tour of Fantasyland, here are some further quotes from the book.

“Female Mercenary. This will be a companion on your Tour. She is usually tall, thin and wiry, silent, and neurotic. Sex scares her. This is because she either came from a nunnery or was raped as a child. Or both. Somehow this inspired her to become a mercenary and she is very good at her job. You can rely on her absolutely in a fight. She can usually kill two people at once while guarding your back in between. The rest of the time, she will irritate you with lots of punctilious weapons cleaning and a perpetual insistence that a proper watch be kept. Mostly, she will have no magic talents, but sometimes, in an emergency, she will come up with a gift or vision. You will end up grudgingly admiring her.”
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

“Horses are of a breed unique to Fantasyland. They are capable of galloping full-tilt all day without a rest. Sometimes they do not require food or water. They never cast shoes, go lame or put their hooves down holes, except when the Management deems it necessary, as when the forces of the Dark Lord are only half an hour behind. They never otherwise stumble. Nor do they ever make life difficult for Tourists by biting or kicking their riders or one another. They never resist being mounted or blow out so that their girths slip, or do any of the other things that make horses so chancy in this world. For instance, they never shy and seldom whinny or demand sugar at inopportune moments. But for some reason you cannot hold a conversation while riding them. If you want to say anything to another Tourist (or vice versa), both of you will have to rein to a stop and stand staring out over a valley while you talk. Apart from this inexplicable quirk, horses can be used just like bicycles, and usually are. Much research into how these exemplary animals come to exist has resulted in the following: no mare ever comes into season on the Tour and no stallion ever shows an interest in a mare; and few horses are described as geldings. It therefore seems probable that they breed by pollination. This theory seems to account for everything, since it is clear that the creatures do behave more like vegetables than mammals. Nomads appears to have a monopoly on horse-breeding. They alone possess the secret of how to pollinate them.”
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five challenge is to take ONLY FIVE MINUTES to browse an unfamiliar category and select a book based solely on the cover art.

Book blurb:

The-Tough-Guide-to-Fantasyland-by-Diana-Wynne-Jones“Settle for what you can get, but first ask for the World. – Ka’a Ort’o, Gnomic Utterances, Civ”
Diana Wynne Jones, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

Imagine that all fantasy novels—the ones featuring dragons, knights, wizards, and magic—are set in the same place. That place is called Fantasyland. The Tough Guide to Fantasyland is your travel guide, a handbook to everything you might find: Evil, the Dark Lord, Stew, Boots (but not Socks), and what passes for Economics and Ecology. Both a hilarious send-up of the cliches of the genre and an indispensable guide for writers, The Tough Guide to Fantasyland has been nearly impossible to find for years. Now this cult classic is back, and readers can experience Diana Wynne Jones at her very best: incisive, funny, and wildly imaginative. This is the definitive edition of The Tough Guide, featuring a new map, an entirely new design, and additional material written for it by Diana Wynne Jones.

World Fantasy Award Finalist

A Hugo Award Finalist (Nonfiction)



  • Book Title: The Tough Guide to FANTASYLAND
  • Author: Diana Wynne Jones
  • Genre: Fantasy Travel Guide
  • Publisher: Firebird; Rev Upd edition (October 5, 2006)
  • Price: NOTE: out of print. Used copies from  $1.24/£5.06 
  • Reviews: 72 for a total of 4.3 out of 5 stars (63% 5 stars)
  • Pages: 256

My Analysis: Anyone who knows me will be very sure that no actual analysis happened. I saw this book less than a minute into my allotted five. Less than two minutes in, the book was one-click purchased. But for anyone who might be hesitating, the book does provide a map of Fantasyland, complete with instructions on using the Guide. These include, but are not limited to:


  • A warning that “In short, the Map is useless, but you are advised to keep consulting it, because it is the only one you will get.
  • Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 4.00.09 PMHow to start your Tour: “Having found Gna’ash, you must at once set about finding an INN, TOUR COMPANIONS, a meal of STEW, a CHAMBER for the night and then the necessary TAVERN BRAWL…The following morning,you must locate the MARKET and attempt to acquire CLOTHING (which absolutely must include a CLOAK), a SADDLE ROLL, WAYBREAD, WATERBOTTLES, a DAGGER, a SWORD, a HORSE, and a MERCHANT to take you along in his CARAVAN. You must resign yourself to being cheated over most prices and you are advised to consult a local MAGICIAN about your SWORD.”
  • Each of the above words in CAPS is helpfully defined in the Toughpick section. For example, “Ambushes will be of four kinds, and you will have them all.” (Goes on to list ambush types by Bandits, by Leather-Winged Avians, by the Forces of Evil, and finally, by You. “This will be one of your first victories against the forces of Evil. You will throw up afterwards, but basically you will feel good.”)

BUY or PASS:   BUY (okay, BOUGHT)

Here is Rosie’s Friday Five Challenge. It only took five minutes and a couple more to write up, and was a ton of fun. I hope you’ll consider joining in. All Rosie asks is that you link back to her original post here so we can all join in viewing your challenge results.

AUTHORS – You often only have seconds to get a reader to buy your book, is your book cover and book bio up to it?

Rosie Amber's Friday Five Challenge. Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

Rosie Amber’s Friday Five Challenge. Get yourself a cuppa and give yourself 5 minutes.

My Friday Five Challenge is this….. IN ONLY FIVE MINUTES….

  1. Go to any online book supplier,
  2. Randomly choose a category,
  3. Speed through the book covers, choose one which has instantly appealed to your eye,
  4. Read the book Bio/ Description for this book, and any other details.
  5. If there are reviews, check out a couple,
  6. Make an instant decision, would you BUY or PASS?
  7. I’ll be back next week with another Friday Five Challenge, do feel free to join in.