Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde is an interesting book -- and, like most of Fforde's books, problematic to categorize. Though definitely written for a younger audience than his Thursday Next books, it's hard to say exactly who the ideal reader of this book might be.

Teenager Jennifer Strange is not a magic user herself, but she is the acting manager of a magical agency. In a Britain where magic is slowly waning and being replaced by technology, the magicians are reduced to taking on tasks like plumbing repair and pizza delivery. Then their most reliable psychic predicts the death of the last dragon in the world -- an event that will almost certainly have a powerful effect on the flow of magic in the world, as well as freeing up an extremely valuable parcel of land. Through a series of events, Jennifer gets caught up in the drama of the dragon's impending death, and finds that she does not want the dragon to die, after all . . . which is problematic, because she's just inherited the title of the Last Dragonslayer.

Like all of Fforde's books, there's a lot of fun humor and wacky chains of circumstance and coincidence that all come together to form the plot. If anything, this book is slightly more straightforward than Fforde's other works, but it's still weird and wacky and magical. I enjoyed it, though frankly I'd rather have had the sequel to Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron instead. Jennifer reminded me, perhaps a little too strongly, of a young Thursday Next, and though the characters were all interesting and distinct, I didn't form much of an attachment to any of them (though the Quarkbeast was rather endearing in its own deadly way). I might read on in the series, or I might not -- the book was fun, but not Fforde at his best.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)

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