winged reviews
Review, Young Adult / September 19, 2013
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper FfordeThe Last Dragonslayer
Author: Jasper Fforde
Series: The Last Dragonslayer #1
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Date: November 2010
281 pages
Source: Purchased
Genres: Fantasy
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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.

Reviewed by: Mary

I know that it’s a travesty that I love books and reading as much as I do and I have not picked up a Jasper Fforde book before. I’ve been meaning to for ages and then just haven’t done it. So when my book club picked The Last Dragonslayer, I was quite happy but I didn’t know what to expect either. Which I think made the book so much better.

I’ve been told that the sort of zany and sarcastic wit that permeates every second of The Last Dragonslayer is just par for the course with Fforde, and for me that means that I’m definitely going to be picking up more of his books in the near future. But it was not at all what I was expecting when I picked up the book, so it took me a little while to adjust. This is not a straightforward fantasy novel, or even one just set in a slightly quirky setting. This is full on Douglas Adams style randomness and humor.

Jennifer Strange, who has one of the best names for a YA heroine I’ve heard in ages, is an orphan who has become an indentured servant to the Kazam Mystical Arts Management agency. One of my favorite parts of all fantasy books is discovering the magic system, and the best books have a very unique set of rules and regulations for their magical worlds. Fforde has not just regulations but a full on bureaucracy with red tape and triplicate forms. It’s the most delightful “urban” fantasy I’ve come across in years. It only gets better once the dragon and dragonslayers are introduced.

I have to admit that the strength of the story is not in the deep characterizations. While all of the characters are fun and interesting, and I really like Jennifer, you can’t really say that she’s deep or nuanced. The book is a bit too fast paced and funny for that to really be a priority, and for me that’s fine but I can imagine that for some readers it won’t work, and I know that it’s going to be hard to string it out into three books without something a little stronger on that front in the sequel.

A few of the jokes were a bit too much, and really were more of a the groan inducing type. But the sense of humor doesn’t relent and with jokes coming at you this fast, I don’t know that you can expect them all to land as brilliantly. I definitely found myself laughing often, and more than once I stopped to try to explain a funny line to somebody else in the room.

Overall, what a perfect way for me to be introduced to Jasper Fforde, I know I’ll be picking up more of his books and I’m dying to read Song of the Quarkbeast.

4.5 Stars

2 Responses to The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

  1. @InkandPage says:

    I have read just about every Jasper Fforde book, starting with his adult series, The Eyre Affair. I love his cleverness and quirkyness and how much he knows about books. However, when I read this book, even though it was very much written in the same manner, I just was not impressed. I liked it well enough, but the things that I enjoyed so much about his adult books just were so annoying here. Again, no idea why. Just was.

    • I've heard people say this before, actually I think somebody at my book club even mentioned it. I wonder if I would felt the same way if this hadn't been my first Fforde book. I think it seems like a much more simplistic story and characters than Thursday Next seems to be, so maybe that's it?

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