Dark Lord of Derkholm

alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca alexandra.bolintineanu at utoronto.ca
Thu Feb 10 21:20:01 EST 2000

Have I mentioned before how much I love my public library?  "Mine" by
right of affection, of course.  I doubt there's another Torontonian who
feels for it such an interesting love/hate/but-mostly-love mixture of
emotions.  (Delusions of grandeur?  Moi?)  Anyway, this time the lovely
people have turned out to actually have around both "Dark Lord of
Derkholm" and "Wilkins' Tooth" (although naturally when I searched their
finicky catalogue they didn't list them under dwj, and I had to hunt by
title).  Yesterday evening, having just put behind me a grueling day of
school stuff, I got a call and found both these books and EM Pope's
Sherwood Ring on the Griffin Library's holds shelf (the Griffin Library
actually goes by the more sedate appellative of 'Lillian H. Smith', but
its tall arched entrance is guarded by two splendid griffin statues on
either side. Oh, how I love that place.)  

Needless to say, I stayed up to an unholy hour of the night reading and
then finished DLD after having returned, bleary-eyed, from class this
morning.  And it's such a fantastic book!  I feel compelled to share a
single quote (not really a plot spoiler):

"I'm glad to see you got here," he said to the dwarfs.
"Been here for days now," said the surly one, whose name was Galadriel.
He had been wondering, ever since he discovered this, what Galadriel's
parents had been thinking of.

<spoilers follow>

See, I find that good literary parody is generally much shorter than
typical productions of the genre it mocks--like Pope's The Rape of the
Lock (which is hilarious! especially read out loud!), so much shorter than
real epic. I mean, pure parody is difficult to stomach for a long time 
after one has got the general drift of the thing.  But DWJ managed to
combine side-splitting *wicked* mockery of the quest genre with truly
believable and sympathetic characters and an exciting story--and combine
them so well!  The rather nightmarish scene where the black
soldiers/murderers break out of the enclosure and overwhelm the handful of
good young characters is hilarious and utterly awful at the same
time--witness the bit around Shona, with those AWFUL men milling about her
but at the same time the carnivorous sheep are "yelling to be allowed to
join in", and enter the fray with a will.  And Oh the Characters!  I shall
stop myself here, or I'll rhapsodize for hours.  Who were people's
favourites, if there was such a thing?  (And did Scales remind people of
Polly's grandmother, and the old lady who cared for Sirius, or was that
just my  impression?)


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