Mythopoeic Fantasy Award 1999.
What does it feel like to have your world devastated once a year by offworld tourists?
Not good. Querida, High Chancellor of the wizards' university, has received more than a million letters from wizards, farmers, soldiers,elves, dragons and kings, all begging her to put a stop to Mr Chesney's Pilgrim Parties. But Mr Chesney has his orders enforced by a powerful demon. Querida takes a priest, a thief and another wizard to consult the Oracles. The first person you see, they are told, must be this year's DarkLord and the second person must be Wizard Guide to the last tour. And the first two people they see are Wizard Derk and his son Blade.
What does it feel like to suddenly have to be Dark Lord?
Dreadful. Wizard Derk, who has spent much of his life peacefully breeding griffins, winged horses, flying pigs, nylon plants and intelligent geese,is horrified to find out he has to rebuild his house as an evil fortress and knock down the nearby village because Mr Chesney wants him to. He is even more upset when Mr Chesney orders Derk's wife Mara to become this year's Evil Enchantress.
What does it feel like when most of your brothers and sisters are griffins?
Interesting. Blade and Shona, Derk's human children, share their home with five griffins. Two of them are enormous and Kit, who is the biggest of them all, has a somewhat uncertain temper. But when Derk has an accident with a dragon, all his children, human and griffin, are forced to do the Dark Lord's work for their father. Things do not go well.
What does it feel like to be Wizard Guide to a Pilgrim Party?
Frantic. When Blade at last gets to conduct his party of offworld people around the continent, he is almost glad when Shona decides to come too. Even so, things go from bad to worse, until it seems unlikely that even Querida can help.