Published by HarperCollins Publishers on October 29th, 1998
Number of Pages: 517
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Purchase: At Amazon
For forty years, Wizard Derk's world has been devastated by Mr. Chesney's Pilgrim Parties -- packaged excursions for tourists from the next universe in search of adventure. When mild-mannered Derk is chosen to play the role of this year's Dark Lord, he is forced by the sinister Mr. Chesney to turn his bucolic country estate into a labyrinthine castle lit by baleful fires, manifest himself as a nine-foot-tall shadow with flaming red eyes, and lead his minions in a climactic battle against the Forces of Good.
Can Derk find a way to put an end to the evil Mr. Chesney and his Pilgrim Parties -- once and for all?
“Be careful what you ask for; you may get it.”
You would think that with a book this size, and what some would call a ‘cast of thousands’, that most of the characters are going to be puppets. Or archetypes, and only a few characters would have personalities of their own that really stood out. I must say, this is not the case. I’m sure there were a few that could be classified as such, but there were so many strong characters those few got completely lost to me. I did not notice if there were actually any or not.
It was also hard choosing which were my favorites. I liked a number of them for various reasons, but if I had to pick I would say that Kit, Blade and Reville were my favorites in the entire book.
Kit is the eldest of Derk’s griffin children and the 2nd-born child in the family. He is 15 years old, and solid black. Wickedly clever, especially about tactics, he is also a typical teenage boy. Prone to sulks and fits of temper, he is also incredibly loyal to his family.
Blade is one of only 2 human children in the family, he is 14 years old and a wizard. More responsibility is placed on his shoulders than anyone else in the family but Kit, for most of the book. For all that Derk should be carrying most of it, it in fact falls to the children instead.
I can’t say too much about Reville without giving away who and what he is. But I enjoyed reading about him and was happy he got a larger part than I originally thought he would.
For all the characters in this book, it isn’t confusing at all. If you meet a character that you haven’t seen since the beginning, he or she is re-explained in a way that fits, so you aren’t lost as to who they are and why they are there. It is also unpredictable for the most part. The twists are funny and fit well with the story, what fixed something that went wrong last time, may not be what the characters do to fix a similar incident the next time.
I looked at how many pages this book was, and figured I would be reading it for 2-3 days between doing other things. Yeah. Sure. I started reading it, and by the time I turned the last page, I hadn’t moved from my chair to do anything much at all. It was totally engrossing and I had to know what would happen next, how it would end, what was going to happen to such-and-such a character. I loved this book! I would highly recommend it to everyone and anyone.