The Last Dragonslayer
- Jasper FForde
Publisher: UK – Hodder
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!"
I love Jasper Fforde books! He has created a perfectly unique world where magic still exists, even if it is declining and is more suited to rewiring your house rather than answering your deepest desires. The unUnited Kingdoms are familiar but slightly skewed version of the real world UK, split into various kingdoms each ruled by a king or Duke, with currency counted in moolah, and foundlings are indentured servants until the age of 18. Jennifer Strange still has two years to serve at Kazam Towers, a home for magicians whether still working or retired, when a strong prophecy telling of the death of the final dragon sets in motion a series of events which could change everything.
I’ve read all Jasper Fforde’s adult books save one which is still sitting on my TBR pile and this, his first YA novel has all the hallmarks of his previous books. There are some fantastically inventive ideas, some brilliant names – Tiger Prawns! – and a more linear story than his adult stories. Jennifer is a straight talking, full of common sense girl who is brave and intelligent. She is determined and stubborn – and I just love how she deals with the magicians, the king and the dragon that all have so much power than her but don’t necessarily want the right thing. I love the Quarkbeast – a fearsome looking creature who is completely loyal to Jennifer and eats metal. There is so much to enjoy!
The story is a little slow at the beginning as we are introduced to the world and the differences from our own, but the pace soon picks up and gallops to an exciting conclusion. There are a wide variety of characters – some good, some not, some merely eccentric but they expand the world and give Jennifer an assortment of people to conflict with. Magic, sponsorship endorsements, dragons and ancient wizard pacts all mix together to make a very tasty read.
If you want an entertaining and slight bizarre story filled as much innovation as twelve other books, then pick up this book. If you want a fun, exciting read, pick up this book. Hell, if you just want a great book to read, pick up this book!
Recommended for fans of Tom Holt and Douglas Adams. 9 out of 10.