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Land of Unreason
By L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt

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Land of Unreason

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Land of Unreason
By L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt
Thorndike Press - Large Print, (2002)
ISBN: 0-7862-4859-9
Genre: Science Fiction - Fantasy

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - August 14, 2003

As a career diplomat with the U.S. State Department, Fred Barber should have known better than to ignore local custom. Yet ignore it he did - to his own peril...

The honorable Mr. Barber had a piece of shrapnel lodged in his head, a souvenir of a bomb dropped on the U.S. embassy in Spain. He had been sent to England to recuperate from his wounds, but even there he could not escape the bombs that the Germans were throwing against their English enemy. Bombs or not, Barber was taking a much needed rest and enjoying the cosseting of his English hosts.

As Land of Unreason by L. Sprague de Camp and Fletcher Pratt begins, it is St. John's Eve - the night before Midsummer Day. As is tradition, Mrs. Gurton put a bowl of milk outside the back door for the fairies. When she is called away from the house, Barber takes an ill-conceived notion to drink the milk himself - after all, it had been a long time since he had a glass of milk. Being a realist, he knew that there were no such thing as fairies, so why waste the milk. To hedge his bets, however, he decently refilled the empty milk bowl with Scotch. This is of course, how the elf got drunk...

Drunk elves, or fairies for that matter, can be very unpredictable. After consuming the scotch left in the fairy's milk bowl, Sneckett went on a bender, kidnaping Barber and carrying him off to Fairy Land.

When he first arrives in Fairy Land, the fairies think that Barber is an unusually large, but none the less a normal changeling baby. There upon follows a delightful scene in which Barber must defend himself from the well-meaning fairies who want to 'change his diaper'! Faced with the unreal reality of the situation that he finds himself in, Barber is forced to accept the fact that fairies are real and that it is going to take a bit more than luck to get home again.

For Barber, England is a distant dream. Now he is in Fairy Land, and a subject of King Oberon and Queen Titania. Worse, the fairies are having trouble with their magic. Once things get sorted out whether Barber is a baby or not, the fairies decided to make use of his diplomatic skills and deputized him as their emissary to the Kobold in a bid to get the problems with their magic straightened out. The problem is, to fulfill his role, he must first make the hazardous journey to the Kobold Hills.

Barber's journey through the Land of Unreason is enchanting. To fulfill his mission he must deal with a host of unimaginable beings from fairies and talking leeches to goblins and sprites, all this while journeying across a land in which magic has become unpredictable. Throughout all his trials, misadventures, and romantic interludes, Barber has one thought on his mind - how to get back to 'his' world.

Land of Unreason offers readers a delightful romp through a fantastical fairy realm. Barber, with his logical mind and compulsion for making sense of out of chaos is the perfect hero for this disjointed adventure tale. This delightful story will tickle your funny bone, and make you want to delve further into the history of King Oberon's Court. (For those with such an inkling, I'd recommend The Faerie Queene, by Edmund Spenser, as a starting point.)

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