The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Land of Unreason was the fourth of seven collaborations between Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp, two of the most popular writers for Unknown Worlds (previously called Unknown). In this novel, Fred Barber is a minor American diplomat temporarily assigned to England. As he tries to sleep during a German bombardment, Barber remembers an old legend that putting milk outside on the night before Midsummer Day will bring the Little People. As an experiment, Barber puts out Scotch instead. His reward is that the Little People transport him to Fairyland.

Barber awakes in Fairyland to find that he is to be given as a present by Queen Titania to her husband, King Oberon. He is taken to Oberon’s palace, where he becomes a member of the court and hears of the kobolds, the hardworking foes to the fairies who, unlike fairies, are able to touch iron, which they turn into swords. Barber is sent to the Kobold Hills to convince the kobolds to stop making swords, and Queen Titania loans him a magic wand that can create “food and detect sorcery.”

Barber then enters an enchanted forest, where he meets Malacea, a sprite who fails to seduce him but leads him to Plum. Barber fights the ogre, then flees. While crossing a vast desert, Barber loses the wand. Eventually he finds a cave and enters the Kobold Caverns. There, he finds a secret arsenal of swords that the kobolds plan to use to conquer Fairyland. The kobolds attempt to...

(The entire section is 517 words.)