Monday, November 12, 2012

The Last Dragonslayer Review

I first read a Jasper Fforde book, The Eyre Affair: A Thursday Next novel, in 2003 on a European vacation with my family. I loved Fforde's silly Monty Python-esque writing style. Anger Management for the protagonists of Wuthering Heights? Brilliant! Granted the series got a bit ridiculous down the line and I stopped reading that series at one point. I've read a few of his other ones over the years and particularly enjoyed Shades of Grey (um no, not the mommy porn crap). Anyway, The Last Dragonslayer was published in the UK last year and I've been waiting and waiting for it to come out here. Finally, it was published last month.

The Last Dragonslayer is written in Fforde's signature style - funny, a bit silly at times and the plot is a whirlwind. Essentially, 15 year old Jennifer Strange is the assistant manager of a home for wizards, mages and magicians. The book takes place in an alternate London (but not the same alternate London where Thursday Next or the main character from Shades of Grey lived. In this world, magic used to be  the most powerful force in the world, but it has been slowly fading out of existence, its practitioners relegated to exterminating moles from gardens or fixing plumbing. They have some moments of brilliance though. One of the pre-cogs in her building has a premonition that the last dragon will die on Sunday at noon.

The only dragon left in the world (or at least in the Ununited Kingdoms) lives in protected territory: the Dragonlands, a remnant from a human/dragon truce. When news about the dragon's demise spreads around, everyone knows that the protective spells surrounding the Dragonland will fade and that land will be free for the taking. Thousands swarm outside the protective borders, while Jennifer's kingdom and the neighboring duchy gear up for war. Also there are big spurts of magic; suddenly the various wizards can do more than they had been able to in years.

In the midst of all of this, Jennifer learns that she is destined to be the Last Dragonslayer and whether or not she wants to, she has to kill the last dragon at noon on Sunday.

It took me a little bit to get back into the familiarly odd rhythms of a Jasper Fforde book but once I did, I really enjoyed this novel. The sequel is out already in England (but not due here until next fall) and the third book is coming out in the UK soon. I do wish Fforde would write the sequel to Shades of Grey, but in the meantime this series is fun and interesting and designed for some of his younger readers. I definitely will read the sequel!

The Last Dragonslayer website

Buy it at amazon and Barnes & Noble

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