04 July 2012

The Last Dragonslayer; Jasper Fforde

The Last DragonslayerThe Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I'd thought this was going to have the humor of the Thursday Next or Nursery Crimes series, but it's a more serious book than any of those.

Set in the Ununited Kindgoms, specifically the Kingdom of Hereford, we meet Jennifer Strange, a foundling indentured to the Kazam Mystical Arts Management agency; she's actually the only non-magical person there and nominally in charge since the Great Zambini's disappearance.  Magic is on the wane in the UK, yet for some reason the Kazam employees are experiencing a surge in power.

The surge might be connected to Big Magic and to Remarkable Kevin Zipp's prediction that the last dragon will be killed on Sunday.  Jennifer is training the next indentured servant, Tiger Prawns, when she learns she's the Last Dragonslayer - and that the prediction will lead to war between Hereford and Brecon, an incredible land grab in the soon-to-be-erstwhile Dragonland, and possibly the end of magic anywhere.

There's a lot of potential here for humor: the Quarkbeast, the magicians who inhabit Zambini Towers (the Mysterious X, for example, or the self-cleaning floor 11), the whole dragon mythology.  Sadly, for some reason, Fforde doesn't take full advantage of the opportunities he's given himself.

If I were buying his books for middle grade readers, I'd stick with the Nursery Crimes and avoid this.

ARC provided by publisher.

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