Review: The Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde

The Last Dragonslayer cover artThe Last Dragonslayer, by Jasper Fforde (Canadian edition, HarperCollins, 2011)

In a world where magic is real—but heavily regulated and used for such mundane tasks as drain clearing, removal of illegally-parked cars, and pizza delivery—we meet Jennifer Strange, acting manager of Kazam, an agency that hires out wizarding services. She’s non-magical, level-headed, and almost 16 years old.

The novel is set in an alternate version of the UK: the Ununited Kingdoms, to be exact (unUK for short). It’s as off-the-wall-brilliant as you’d expect from Jasper Fforde and made me laugh out loud a few times and chortle several more. Thank you, Mr. Fforde!

As if managing a horde of self-focused, absent-minded and quasi-sane wizards wasn’t enough of a challenge for our young heroine, Big Magic is in the air: once-fading magic powers are on the rise, and it’s somehow linked to the foretold and imminent death of the last dragon.

In all the speculation and excitement about the dragon’s upcoming demise, Jennifer discovers she’s the Last Dragonslayer. Problem is, she’d rather not kill him, despite the crowd waiting to claim his land.

The Last Dragonslayer is a fun, light-hearted read that gets in a few good shots at private and corporate greed, politicians and humanity in general. I’ll leave that analysis to other reviewers so-inclined. It doesn’t come naturally to me and it spoils my fun (and brings back bad memories from grade school).

I’m pleased to see the sequel, Song of the Quarkbeast, has already released in the UK and will be available in Canada in 2012. (The Last Dragonslayer introduces quarkbeasts, which it defines as “nine tenths velociraptor and kitchen blender and one tenth Labrador” p.99) Serious Fforde fans in North America can order copies of the UK release now through our local Amazons, but I think I have enough reading material to last me until the lower-priced Canadian version comes out in May.

Jasper Fforde is the acclaimed author of the Thursday Next series, the Nursery Crimes series, and Shades of Grey. You can find all manner of cool stuff at his website, and you can read a preview of The Last Dragonslayer by clicking the icon below.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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