September 19, 2013
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer
by Jasper Fforde
Jennifer Strange may be just a teenager, and a foundling at that, but she’s got her own Volkswagen Beetle and a Quarkbeast, perhaps the most frightening creature in the world. She’s also the operating manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management. It may sound glamorous but it means that she rides herd on 45 sorcerers of various kinds, sorcerers being easily distracted and not altogether good with the practical details of life.
And practical details can be a life saver in the United Kingdoms where not filling out the correct paperwork when you do a spell means your execution. Magic may still exist but it is no longer the power that it once was. In fact, none of the sorcerers at Kazam’s have nearly as much power as they had in their youth.
Then the two precogs on staff have a vision about the death of the last dragon. In fact, the vision is so intense that precogs of very meager abilities all over the kingdom of Hereford receive the vision as well. They know not only that the dragon will die but also the exact day and time. With the knowledge comes a struggle for the dragon’s land even as Jennifer gets a new responsibility. She, who loves all animals, is named the Last Dragon Slayer. And the vision says that it is at her hands that the dragon will die.
If you’ve read Fforde’s adult novels with the character Thursday Next, this series (of which the Last Dragonslayer is book #1) is very similar. Fforde brings Jennifer’s world to life. It is a world very like our own, but with a twist that satirizes the importance of paperwork, product placement and the idea that possession is 9/10 of the law.
Young readers will root for Jennifer as she works to outsmart the adults, hold her temper in check and figure out just what her place is in this mess created by the adults who allegedly made it all better. Not that all of the adult characters are bad. In fact, some of the adult character step forward in the end as they seek to spark Big Magic. But this is clearly a young adult novel and, as such, Jennifer and her friend Tiger Prawns can be expected to save the day in spite of the adults around them.