The Dark Lord of Derkholm by Diana Wynne Jones

(David, your post is the next one down.)

I decided to treat myself to re-reading an old favorite over the holidays by one of the best sci-fi-fantasy writers for children in the world. And it was as delightful as before. Jones creates a world replete with groups of creatures, politically motivated wizards, and a multi-species family of children and griffins.

The premise is that someone from a non-magical world has found a portal to this magical world and is exploiting it for tourism. But it's not enough to tour a magical world. Mr. Chesney, head of these tours, demands that his customers be given a scripted set of typical fantasy story experiences, in which good triumphs over evil.

The best part is the way the women of the world band together to educate the tourists (called "pilgrims") in the exploitation of their world. So much is topsy turvy. The eventual person who shuts it all down in the head of the thieves guild, who is angry because Mr. Chesney is stealing magic from their world, and no one outside of the theives guild has a right to steal that magic.

This book is such a jumble of places, characters, and events, that it's hard to believe Jones keeps it all going. I can only sit in awe of writing this complex and humorous at the same time.