I love Jasper Fforde. A few years ago I saw a review of The Eyre Affair on Cannonball Read, the plot intrigued me so I picked it up and have been a little obsessed with his books ever since. He has a way of weaving crazy ideas, British idiosyncrasies, and literary humor in a way that reminds me a lot of Douglas Adams. So, already finished with his other books, I patiently awaited the US release of The last Dragonslayer, Fforde’s first attempt at young adult fiction. And I waited. And waited. It got to the point where I couldn’t wait anymore. The sequel was already out in England and we didn’t even have the first one here! So I gave up and ordered it elsewhere, even though I hadn’t read it yet. I don’t do this often anymore because I’m trying really hard not to hoard books, but I don’t regret this purchase at all. The Last Dragonslayer may not be as dear to me as the Thursday Next series but I really enjoyed it and anxiously await the next entries.
Jennifer Strange is almost 16, a foundling, and the acting manager of Kazam’s since the disappearance of her boss. It’s a lot of responsibility to put on a young person’s shoulders but she is much more mature than most, especially the sorcerers that she has to deal with. Early on she receives another foundling to help her at Kazam’s, a long-held tradition. These kids come to assist the sorcerers with anything they need, working as indentured servants for nine years. This used to be a more prestigious job before magic started to wane. In magic’s heyday, sorcerers were well respected and able to move buildings at a whim. It now takes several magicians to finish a plumbing job.
Sorcerers had been under suspicion for years, resulting in high regulations for any amount of magic used, and lots of paper work. These regulations coupled with waning magic made the magical arts a quickly fading idea and relegated sorcerers to household repair jobs and car towing to make ends meet. One day a strong prophecy comes that says the last dragon will die. More people start to feel magic, not surprising considering the supposed link between magic and dragons. Jennifer is prophesized as this final dragonslayer and though she has no interest in killing a dragon, she gets more and more pressure from fate, royalty, and marketing opportunities to fulfill the prophecy.
As I said, I enjoyed this book a lot; it was definitely geared towards a younger audience than his other books, making it easier to follow and a lot easier to explain to others. It is an interesting story that I feel only someone like Fforde could come up with; he’s just that weird. I highly recommend this to anyone with an interest in fantasy and a sense of humor.