Friday, March 16, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde


In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in the magic release form B1-7g. But somewhere, somehow, the magic started draining away.

Jennifer Strange runs Kazam!, an employment agency for state-registered magicians, soothsayers and sorceresses. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper and quicker than a spell. Why trust a cold and drafty magic carpet when jetliners offer a comfy seat and an in-flight movie? And now potions are eligible for VAT...

But then the visions start. The Last Dragon is going to be killed by a Dragonslayer at 12.00 on Sunday. The death will unleash untold devastation on the UnUnited Kingdom, setting principality against dukedom and property developer against homesteader. And all the signs are pointing to Jennifer Strange, and saying"Big Magic is coming!"

The Last Dragonslayer is fizzing with all the creativity and genius Jasper Fforde's fans delight in, and will appeal as much to the young at heart as to the younger readers for whom it is written.

I've been a big fan of Jasper Fforde since my dad introduced me to The Big Over Easy a while back. I then got into the Thursday Next books which, if you've never tried then I urge you to give them a go. What I love about Jasper Fforde is that his books are clever, innovative and funny but he never lets this get in the way of a good story or a tight plot. I don't know why I haven't got around to reading and reviewing his first children's book. Just to get the negatives out of the way first I just want to talk about the cover. The hardback had the most gorgeous cover (which I've used for this review) but the paperback cover is a bit blingy and yuck. Okay, that small point over with let's get to the story.

Jennifer Strange is an orphan and has two years left to run of her servitude for Kazam which is an employment agency for magicians who all live in-house. She's joined by a new foundling to train - a boy of twelve called Tiger Prawns. Just as she's trying to show him the ropes and explain the Transient Moose which haunts the building , Jennifer finds herself involved in a state event of much importance - the fate of the last dragon in the land. Jennifer's under a massive amount of pressure as the fate of the magicians of Kazam is down to her, as is Tiger's future and now she's involved with the last dragon.

Like all of Fforde's books The Last Dragonslayer is brilliantly funny; from the marzipan addicts, the child catcher or the fact that the Isle of Wight is now a floating isle powered by engines. I defy anyone to read this book and not want their own Quarkbeast (who only says, "quark," but is immensely clever and can eat metal). There's a lot going on in this book but Jennifer's story still manages to shine through. The world-building is interesting too - Troll Wars have left hundreds of orphans which is why Jennifer and Tiger are in servitude until they're eighteen. Troll War widows are everywhere and there's little support for people on the edge of society. When Jennifer suddenly becomes more important she doesn't forget her background or her passions and it's this aspect of the story that I found very touching.

I'll definitely be reading the next in the series - The Song of the Quarkbeast. If you've loved Fforde's adult books then definitely give this one a try as it has all the little touches that make his work special with the added attraction of a whole new world to discover.


Raimy from Readaraptor Hatchling said...

Ive never read any Jasper Fforde but I really want to! I love the sound of this one

Tina said...

The Last Dragonslayer was one of my favorite books from last year. :) I love Jasper Fforde. :) Great review!

Unknown said...

I just finished Song of the Quarkbeast, and it's just as enjoyable as this one!

immigration lawyers said...

Great review for a great book. This book is really fun to read. The magical is here. I think that kid's would love it too.