Imagine if the Earth we lived on was right next door to a planet where magic was the norm, and dragons, elves and dwarves (among other fantastical beings) lived side-by-side with the people. That's exactly the case in Dark Lord of Derkholm, and as such, a man named Mr. Chesney created the Pilgrim Parties in order to allow Earthlings to come and visit the world. But his specifications regarding what the Pilgrims are to see are very specific, including taking part in numerous battles, sacking and destroying cities, and killing all those "expendables" (i.e. Pilgrims whose family members want offed). As such, the Pilgrim Parties have completely devastated the world. Enter Derk, the most unassuming wizard ever, who would rather spend time creating fantastic new beasts (think winged horses and griffins) and tending to his plants than having anything to do with the Pilgrim Parties. But he's got no choice, as he's been selected to be this year's Dark Lord. And that's when everything that could go wrong does go wrong.This is the second book I've read by Diana Wynne Jones, and while I didn't like it as much as I did Howl's Moving Castle, there were definitely some parts that made me laugh, made me sad, and made me frustrated with what was happening to Derk's world. It was amusing to watch Derk struggle with all the components of being Dark Lord, especially when so much was clearly not going to plan. I enjoyed reading about Derk's family - he has two human children and five griffin children - and the roles they played in trying to help their father. Mara made me angry although obviously she had a reason for being absent, and it wasn't her fault at all, as did all the people who swore they'd help Derk who either did a half-assed job of it, or just didn't do anything to help at all.The book is told via different viewpoints, but stuck mostly with Derk or Blade, Derk's human son, who is put in charge of the final Pilgrim Party even though he's far from a qualified wizard. I enjoyed reading about Blade's adventures, and the trouble he got into, and the ways he tried to fix everything but just made things worse. I was particularly interested in his total lack of a sense of direction, which suited him okay for translocation (think Apparation, if you're a Harry Potter fan) but definitely didn't work at all for getting a Pilgrim Party across the country to their various checkpoints. In fact, I would have liked to learn more about that, because it seemed like it was distinct to Blade alone, and I would have loved to learn why he could move himself (or anyone else he's translocating) without getting lost but couldn't manage to walk people in the right direction.There is a second book to this series, but I don't think I'm going to read it. I enjoyed reading about Derk and Blade, and the griffins, and the ways they were trying to get rid of Mr. Chesney. The twists and turns in the story line were engaging and interesting, and kept me going through a very long book (over 500 pages, and while I enjoyed the story I felt the length, if that makes sense), and I felt invested in the story and the characters. But I'm okay with being done with this world, and don't think I'll re-read this book again. It was good for a one-shot read, if you will, but isn't something I feel the need to revisit, unlike my feelings regarding Howl's Moving Castle, which I adored.