This book is single-handedly responsible for a 900% reduction in the frequency of stew in fantasy novels.
(True fact: there used to be stew in the doppelganger books. I took it out because of Diana Wynne Jones.)
It is not, in the normal way of things, a book really meant to be read cover-to-cover. It isn’t a novel; it’s an encyclopedia, mocking the tropes and formulas of quest fantasy, from Adept (“one who has taken what amouts to the Postgraduate Course in MAGIC”) to Zombies (“these are just the UNDEAD, except nastier, more pitiable, and generally easier to kill”). Oh, sorry — you don’t start with Adept, you always, always start with THE MAP. (“It will be there. No Tour of Fantasyland is complete without one.”)
I decided to read it cover-to-cover anyway, because if I’m going to do a completist read-through of her work, then dammit, I’m going to be thorough about it. And it’s still entertaining; it just takes a while, compared to a novel of similar length. It also forms useful, though not completely necessary, background for Dark Lord of Derkholm, which takes the idea of the quest-fantasy protagonist being a Tourist and runs for the end zone. But for that, you’ll have to wait for another post.