The Last Dragonslayer is the second book I’ve read by Jasper Fforde (the first being The Eyre Affair). Unfortunately, I think Fforde’s writing style suits an adult audience much better than a young adult genre. I was quite excited to read this book – mostly because the cover made it seem really exciting when I picked it up at my local bookstore (and then put it down and waited to get it from the Library). I was a bit disappointed to be honest. It was… okay, but not brilliant.
In The Last Dragonslayer, Jennifer Strange is the almost-16-year old acting manager of Kazam. A foundling, Jennifer has two years left of indentured servitude. She seems to like managing Kazam – the magicians / sorcerers / wizards are a batty, interesting lot. It seems like managing them is at times like trying to herd cats and fill out lots of paperwork while herding. Magic is drying up, it seems, and the glory days are overshadowed by mundane magical plumbing, pizza delivery, and odd jobs. Things get even more interesting when predictions roll in that the last Dragon, residing in the adjacent Dragonlands, is about to go belly up (at the hands of the Last Dragonslayer). If the prophesies are true, all may change… and of course they’re true. Big Magic is coming.
Redeeming quality of the book: I liked Jennifer a lot. Strong, smart, independent, no-nonsense, she was a delightful character. I also quite liked the newest foundling to Kazam, Tiger.
Otherwise, I found this story to be more plodding than exciting, more political than dramatic, and devoid of connections between characters. Relationships (even friendships) seemed very surface, and characters were simple / less dimensional. The world seemed interesting and quirky, but I didn’t really grasp what kind of place it was supposed to be. In some senses, it was too matter-of-fact for me.
I feel like I’m bashing this book more than it deserves. It is an interesting story, which some unique characters (e.g. the Quarkbeast). It does have some good morals – sort of (e.g. not selling out to corporate interests … mostly). Just because I didn’t find it gripping doesn’t mean someone else won’t enjoy it more.
I’ll give it a 3 / 5. Average / decent effort. There are two sequels but I don’t think I’ll read the rest of the series.