[[quoteright:260:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/toughguidetofantasyland_7211.jpg]]
This piece of MetaFiction by Creator/DianaWynneJones [[AllMythsAreTrue pretends that pretty much all of the fantasy stories ever told -- well, most]] [[StrictlyFormula modern genre fantasies]], [[AllMythsAreTrue anyway -- took place in a place called "Fantasyland"]], and that the creators of the stories are the [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis "Management"]] who arrange for the audience to go on "tours". With this setup, an extensive list of fantasy tropes is presented as if to a tourist visiting another country and thoroughly {{deconstruct|ion}}ed. It also pretends that the stories are statistically representative of "Fantasyland," and thus concludes that the most common type of meal is stew, that cities are composed mainly of alleyways, and that the ecology and economy of Fantasyland are severely screwed up.

Jones later wrote a novel called ''Literature/DarkLordOfDerkholm'' set in the Fantasyland described in the ''Tough Guide'' and deconstructed it further by revealing it's really nothing like the guidebook at all and it's all put on (very reluctantly) for the benefit of the tourists.
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!!Tropes in this book.

('''Note:''' As the whole point of the book is to list and {{deconstruct|edTrope}} as many fantasy tropes as the author could identify, it's a fair bet that any fantasy-related trope known to this wiki gets some kind of coverage. But the following tropes are definitely among those included -- and, pretty much to a one, [[SubvertedTrope subverted]] and [[LampshadeHanging lampshaded]].)

* AbsurdlySpaciousSewer: "Despite the presence of so much refuse and squalor, most castles and cities seem nowadays to have sewers. Their use, apart from the obvious one, is to provide access to or escape from the interior. Be warned. Many tours make use of sewers in preference to secret passages. Opportunities for washing afterwards are not always provided. Do not worry, though; most often, within half a day, all trace of stench will have vanished from you and your clothing, almost as if the management had forgotten about it."
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: Jones notes that some enemy races will ''never'' have good members, not even a [[MySpeciesDothProtestTooMuch solitary example]].
* ArabianNightsDays: The "Fanatic Caliphates" setting, which will be hot, southerly, and full of merchants and religious fanatics.
* ApothecaryAlligator: Mummified alligators are a common feature of wizards' laboratories. Live alligators are much rarer, and believed to be extinct.
* AristocratsAreEvil: A primary feature of the land of the Aristocratic Feudalists.
* AssassinOutclassin: This is the topic of the entry on Assassins - that the tourist is attacked in an inn by a [[TheWorfEffect supposedly]] expert Assassin but manages to overpower and kill them, and the Assassin goes to his death complaining about the Tourist breaking the [[WeirdTradeUnion rules]].
* AutomatonHorses: The Tough Guide speculates that in Fantasyland horses may be a type of vegetable.
* BeautyEqualsGoodness: A person's character can be easily discerned by their attractiveness.
* BeneathTheEarth: Cavern systems are a common feature of the Tour. Unlike real cave expeditions, light will rarely be an issue -- if your torches fail while you're down there, you'll probably come across areas with rocks that glow by themselves.
* BetterThanABareBulb: The book was written to lampshade.
* BiggerOnTheInside: The Guide notes that most buildings in Fantasyland appear larger inside than their outside would suggest. An unusual exception to this are farmhouses, which are ''smaller'' on the inside -- for some reason, these will seem large and inviting outside, but will be small and poky inside.
* {{Bishonen}}: The "gay mage" tour companion.
* TheBlacksmith: A good source of allies.
* BornInTheSaddle: The Anglo-Saxon Cossack barbarians. Despite this, they will never have bandy legs.
* BurnTheWitch: A common hazard (along with crucifixion) when dealing with Religious Feudalists.
* ButNotTooGay: The Gay Mage is a mildly camp Companion with a bit of MagicalGay about him (in addition to actually being magical). Apart from the name, actual gayness is only implied.
* ButNotTooWhite: A character's goodness can be judged by their tan.
* CityOfCanals: Cited by name as one possible location tourists may visit. Its canals will be filthy and it will likely be ruled by a council of corrupt merchant-princes.
* ColorCodedForYourConvenience: One can tell a person's character through clothing, eye and hair color.
* CorruptChurch: The land of the Religious Feudalists is ruled by one of these.
* CrystalDragonJesus: The One God variety of Religion, if a male god is used. Even if his worshipers see him as benign, they tend to hate women and magic users (and witches, who are frequently both), and fall into KnightTemplar territory at their worst.
* DeadUnicornTrope: A sort of gender-based WackyWaysideTribe plot/setting is mentioned, in which while boys do one thing, girls get to bond with dragons. The thing is, that while there are books with female DragonRider characters (i.e. ''Literature/DragonridersOfPern''), there doesn't seem to be any series in which that was an exclusively female activity--it's closer to exclusively male in the Pern books,[[note]]Only the very few gold (queen) dragons bond with females, and at the start of the series even they don't actually ride.[[/note]] and the ''Literature/PitDragonChronicles'' likewise features males making that bond, and all of these books were written before the Guide was published. It is worth noting, however, that Jones wrote it after reading umpteen Tolkien-esque, Tolkien-length novels as a judge in a contest. She was probably not referring to any published books when she wrote this.
* DeathMountain: The map features a range of peaks named the Death Mountains in the far north. More generally, the mountains most Tourists will have to cross tend to feature impossibly high, sharp peaks and steep cliffs that don’t seem to have ever been eroded, leading Jones to conclude Fantasyland has never gone through an ice age. This is where you’ll find dwarves, as well as cliff-dwelling clans that live alongside telepathic eagles and hawks.
* DidYouJustHaveSex: The Guide tells you the signs to look for in one of your tour members and the correct etiquette for the situation.
* DistressedDamsel: Entry number one on Princesses consists of one word: "Wimps."
* DragonHoard: Wondering on why dragons hoard treasure, Jones conjectures that dragons absorb nutrients from gold by sleeping on it.
* DragonRider: Likely to show up.
* DroitDuSeigneur: Mentioned by name as one of the things that bad Aristocratic Feudalists get up to when oppressing the peasantry.
* ElementalEmbodiment: Elementals in Fantasyland, besides the usual four classic elements, come in various types, including iron, fog, mist, ice and whirling eddies of sand of indeterminate type.
* EncyclopediaExposita: The entire book is one.
* EntitledToHaveYou: The {{deconstruction}} of RescueSex has shades of this, saying that because the hero nobly refuses to sleep with the slave girl when her wicked master offers her to him ("what they don't do") and helps her escape ("what they do") he then gets to have sex with her.
* EvilChancellor: Very likely to show up.
* EvilMatriarch: The "bad mother" variety of bad queen.
* EvilOverlord: The Dark Lord, one of whom exists for every Tour trying to destroy everything. However, they can be defeated fairly easily by Tourists near the finale. There are no Dark Ladies, for it seems the Management finds them less sinister.
* EvilPrince: It seems to depend on whether or not he's recognized as royalty or incognito. If he ''is'' recognized, then he'll be some variant of cruel, spoiled and/or outright murderous, otherwise he'll be TheGoodPrince.
* EvilSmellsBad: The "Reek of Wrongness". Horses seem to be particularly sensitive to this smell.
* ExtrudedBookProduct: The main purpose of this book is to parody the kind of unoriginal, formulaic copycats of Tolkien and Conan novels that seem to flood modern fantasy literature.
* FantasyContraception: Simply being in Fantasyland seems to act as this. Jones notes that no matter how much sex "tourists" have, pregnancy never occurs (perhaps tied into the [[NoPeriodsPeriod lack of menstruation by women]]).
* FantasyCounterpartCulture: A whole bunch of them, lampshading the ones most common in unoriginal fantasy novels.
* FantasyGunControl: {{Enforced}} on most tours. Gunpowder usually fails to explode, unless it's part of an ancient gun like a musket or flintlock pistol.
* FantasyWorldMap: [[spoiler: Take a look at the map ''upside down''. Run the place-names through an anagram generator while you're at it.]]
* ForgottenTrope: The entries tend to draw from cliches of StrictlyFormula commercial fantasy as well as some instances likely [[TakeThat directed at particular works]]. So, while a lot of the tropes it cites are still frequently used, others aren't so much.
* GiantFlyer: The "Leathery winged avians" that may attack tourists in isolated spots.
* GladiatorGames: The other common fate of male characters who get enslaved.
* GladiatorRevolt: The inevitable consequence of a lead character being enslaved as a gladiator.
* GodSaveUsFromTheQueen: The "old fashioned bad" variety of bad queen.
* GodsNeedPrayerBadly: One of the two absolute Rules in regards to Religion in Fantasyland.
* HawaiianShirtedTourist: The [[https://pictures.abebooks.com/isbn/9781568659510-us.jpg cover]] of at least the Daw Books, 1996 edition of ''The Tough Guide to Fantasyland'' pictures tourists dressed this way.
* HeroesWantRedheads: Princesses who fall for the hero are often redheads in Fantasyland.
* HiddenBackupPrince: It's noted that runaway princesses have an overwhelming tendency to marry "commoners of sterling worth" who more often than not turn out to be these.
* HighPriest: Always evil. Sometimes thin and evil, sometimes fat and evil, but always evil. You may also meet a High Priestess. Regardless of whether she’s attractive and motherly or thin and severe, she’ll always be good.
* HornyVikings: The Barbary Vikings who live in the north of the world. They love killing and fighting, are skilled sailors, and wear the usual horned helmets. They are one of the malest peoples you will encounter.
* IKnowYourTrueName: Using PunctuationShaker names is possibly used as a form of protection against this.
* LampshadeHanging: Lampshades are hung on tropes left and right.
* LittlePeople: There seems to be a wide assortment of them running about in various sizes and levels of hairiness. Some will likely be copies of Tolkien's Hobbits.
* LivingForeverIsAwesome: One way humans can be immortal is through being a magic user. These immortals largely seem to enjoy their eternal lives.
* LeftJustifiedFantasyMap: Technically, the book has a ''right''-justified map, [[spoiler:which makes sense, as it's just a map of Europe rotated upside down]]. The place names are anagrams parodying common ones in fantasy books.
* LostWorld: In abundance. There seems to be no scarcity of hidden valleys, kingdoms and so on that have been lost from the rest of the world for ages for the heroes to stumble across.
* TheLostWoods: An evil forest full of aggressive trees and vicious monsters is mainstay of Tour quests.
* MadeASlave: There're two ways this can happen:
** Most male Tourists will be captured and enslaved at some point on their Quest, and will become galley slaves or gladiators, at which point they’ll have to win back their freedom.
** The daughters of merchants who were brought along with the caravan will be captured when bandits will inevitably attack; they appear to be the only source of harem slaves.
* MessOnAPlate: Expect to eat ''a lot'' of stew. And not always know what's in it.
* MorePredatorsThanPrey: The Guide uses this as one of the key pieces of evidence for the theory that fantasy worlds' ecosystems have been recently ravaged (another is the way piles of refuse around oppressed peasants' huts don't just rot away.) It comes to the conclusion that the systems are re-establishing themselves with humans at the bottom, and everything will be fine.
* NoPeriodsPeriod: It's noted that female "tourists" do not menstruate in Fantasyland.
* OurDwarvesAreAllTheSame: Naturally, the typical bearded, surly and metal-loving standard-issue dwarves show up in Fantasyland, living in hidden fastnesses in the mountains.
* OurElvesAreBetter: They are, as per always, immortal (and always youthful), and wiser, more ethereal, more magical, better-looking and just generally better than humans. They have been in decline since humans turned up, and now most of the are passing West -- which here means they have been moving to the American Southwest, where they wear punk clothing and ride motorcycles.
* OurGnomesAreWeirder: They’re a small folk who live underground and kidnap people for no particular reason. This is somewhat complicated by the fact that they do not always remember that humans need to eat and drink.
* OurGoblinsAreDifferent: Basically tiny Orcs who live underground. They like to capture human travellers ([[ZergRush their chief tactic while doing so seems to consist of throwing bodies at them until the enemy is overwhelmed]]) and then torture them. They don't seem to do much else.
* OurOrcsAreDifferent: For all practical purposes, they’re a bigger, better version of goblins used by the Dark Lord.
* PunctuationShaker: This is discussed at length, with one theory being it's to make a name [[TheUnpronounceable unpronounceable]] to prevent it [[IKnowYourTrueName being used against them]].
* PurpleEyes: In its dissertation on [[ColorCodedForYourConvenience color-coding]] in Fantasyland, the Guide says people with violet eyes may be royalty, or just destined to lead "uncomfortably interesting lives".
* RebelliousPrincess: Entry number two on Princesses.
* RecursiveReality / SelfDemonstratingArticle:
--> '''ETERNAL QUEST''': See "'''QUEST, ETERNAL'''"
--> '''QUEST, ETERNAL''': See "'''ETERNAL QUEST'''"
* RedShirt: The Serious Soldier, who lacks personality and whose role in the story consists mainly of helping out in the fight scenes and inevitably dying at a dramatically appropriate moment.
* RescueSex: The entry on slavery mentions beautiful female varieties of slave and how they are rescued from slavery by a Conanesque male character, who is rewarded with no-holds-barred sex, and then [[NotStayingForBreakfast abandons them in the middle of nowhere]].
* RunningGag: When describing the various peoples you’ll meet on your quest, (elves, dragons, dwarves, marsh dwellers, island people, etc.) Jones mentions in each entry how each group seems to have “a form of magic that no one else can use”. There do not seem to be exceptions. Depending on how many of these groups you meet, you may end up with more examples of exclusive magic than of the regular kind.
* SexyDiscretionShot: Under VIRGINS:
--> 6. As TALENTED GIRLS. These are very likely, towards the end of the second third of the Tour, to come across a male Tourist in his BATH and turn implausibly to jelly (a surge of some deep, hitherto unknown emotion swept through her (OMT)). Thereafter they have a sprightly step, a jaunty gleam in the eyes, a yet more tiptilted nose, and '''a private life over which the Management generally draws a discreet veil.'''
* ShoutOut: [[TheLordOfTheRings "[Cursed rings] must be returned from whence they came, preferably at over a thousand degrees Fahrenheit, and the curse means you won't want to do this."]] Among others.
** Some of the Other Tough Guides:
*** DoctorWho: The Tough Guide to Transport in the Multiverse (Mostly by Telephone Box)
*** Literature/{{Flatland}}: The Tough Guide to Flat Worlds
** The Invisible College sounds not unlike [[Literature/{{Discworld}} Unseen University]]. Although it could be related to the source of the Unseen University, the actual [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_College Invisible College]].
* SlaveGalley: If a male character is enslaved, chances are he'll probably wind up chained to an oar in one of these. Jones notes that, since these galleys only ever seem to contain rows of chained-up slaves and nothing in the way of merchandise or soldiers, it's a bit difficult to understand why people keep building them.
* SomewhereAnEquestrianIsCrying: It's {{lampshaded}} how horses are treated like bicycles and the Guide therefore speculates that they're not actually animals, but vegetables which breed by pollination.
* STDImmunity: Tourists are informed that, happily, sexually transmitted diseases appear to not exist in Fantasyland.
* SwampsAreEvil: Jones distinguishes two kinds: Bogs are essentially patches of deep mud put in your way to slow you down when being chased by Evil in order to provide dramatic tension. Marshes show up later and involve more of the traditional swampland dangers -- swarms of insects, filthy water, mazelike channels and so on.
* TarotMotifs: One of the most frequent means for prophecy to be laid out.
* ThudAndBlunder: The Guide naturally discusses some of the Thud and Blunder tropes. In particular, barbarians and evil overlords make several appearances.
* {{Turncoat}}: Which is only people who turn ''against'' you. People who come over to your side are only doing what is right. "Coats do not exist in Fantasyland -- cloaks are universally preferred -- but turncoats do."
* {{Tradesnark}}: The Guide puts a superscript OMT (Official Management Term) on words or phrases that are, in the author's opinion, particularly overused in [[ExtrudedBookProduct Extruded Fantasy Product]].
* TheUnpronounceable: The names of the inhabitants of [=PanCeltic=] Tours (fantasy novels that copy Celtic mythology instead of Tolkien and Conan) will almost always be unpronounceable strings of what is probably supposed to sound like Irish, with far too many h's crammed in there.
* VainSorceress: The Enchantress. The Guide outright says "Enchantress" is "another word for seductress, only with more punch".
* VestigialEmpire: The TropeNamer, even.
* VirginSacrifice: The preferred form of sacrifice among evil religions, which features ritual rape and disembowelment as part of the ceremony.
* VirginityMakesYouStupid: The only logical conclusion one can draw from the behavior of female virgins who so readily fall into the hands of evil people.
* WackyWaysideTribe: Your Tour is certain to include a great deal of people, tribes and incidents that will have little or nothing to do with the theoretical main plot of overthrowing the Dark Lord. Jones goes in great detail on each kind of Tribe you’re likely to come across.
* WeirdTradeUnion: Jones wonders if the assassins' and thieves' guilds are the only ones existing in Fantasyland.
* WhenTreesAttack: It's mentioned that many trees are downright hostile, grabbing people in their branches and trying to eat them.
* WhoWantsToLiveForever: One type of immortal humans are made so by some sort of curse, and largely spend their immortality hating everything.
* WizardingSchool: It's called the "Invisible College", described as being like an {{Oxbridge}} university. Within, if anything with magic [[MurphysLaw can go wrong, it will]]. Students should be prepared for every type of magical accident possible. Note this was written before ''Franchise/HarryPotter'', which codified the "wizarding school as UK boarding school" trope.
* YouAllMeetInAnInn: Of course you do.
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