Dark Lord of Derkholm
Diana Wynne Jones
The Oracles have been consulted to find out how to get rid of Mr Chesney’s tours. They’ve been ripping up the countryside, destroying everyone’s way of life, and now finally the magic of the world is being stripped away. Derk and his unconventional family have been charged with changing things – but is that really possible with some carnivorous sheep and a grouchy dragon in tow?
Derk just wants to be left alone with his animals and created children, but instead he is have to organize hordes of pilgrims who tour the countryside. Everyone expects the Dark Lord to attack with his armies, but first the armies actually have to get to the battlefields. Kit and Blade are the most important characters, particularly Blade, who focalizes the novel. Blade is young, but he has great wizarding powers. he lacks a teacher though, and appears to be translocating in zig-zags.
The story twists and turns satisfactorily, and although the reader might feel like they know what is happening, half the time they really don’t! The lady wizards are up to something, because the male ones are too exhausted going around with the pilgrim parties and keeping them all hidden from each other. When the magic starts to go wrong for everyone, there are big problems!
It is a little reminiscent of the Chrestomanci series in that the evil comes from another world. But yay! This book has dragons! Indeed, one of them almost destroys the plans to be rid of Mr Chesney before they even start.
The ending is good. It may be a happy ending after everything that has happened, but it’s a believable happy ending, which is nice. The novel does have a moral – you need to help yourself before you can expect outside help. Jones often includes a subtle moral plug, as she has in both the Chrestomanci and Castle series which I have previously reviewed (hit the hyperlinks for those). I will have to read more of her novels (like that is a hardship!!!) to be able to tell you whether it’s present in all her books. It doesn’t detract from your reading pleasure, and I think that this is a mark of a true author.
I’d recommend this novel for children (although it is a little bloody) and teenagers. If you’re an adult like me but still enjoy some simple reading, this is as good a book as any to read. You’ll still be guessing with the rest of the authors, even if the teenage shenanigans don’t do anything for your reading pleasure.
Fortunately for me, although the next book of this pairing is on my ‘can’t have’ shelf, this is my 40th review! Go me! I’m totally going to have the next one from my shelf! Standby for a review!