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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

Jasper Fforde has written a new book, and if it wasn’t for heroine being two weeks short of sixteen, no swearing, and no overt classic literary references, you’d be hard pushed to know that it was for young adults.  I expect that many grown-ups will read it anyway and some will be none the wiser as, although it is lighter fare than usual, it will happily sit along with his other titles.

Jennifer Strange is a foundling, not quite sixteen years old, and is running the Kazam agency for soothsayers and sorcerors in the unexplained absence of its owner Mr Zambini. In an age where magical power is diminishing, managing magical talent is an art in itself, and Jennifer has to massage the egos of once powerful mages who are reduced to doing plumbing jobs to make ends meet, as well as doing all their paperwork every time they cast a spell.

Power has been gradually draining away as the dragons started to die out, and now there is only one aged beast left living in the dragonlands between the kingdoms of Hereford and Brecon.  Then premonitions start happening to all the soothsayers around – they are predicting the death of the last dragon, that Big Magic is involved … and Jennifer.

This book lacks none of Fforde’s inventiveness and humour.  It’s set in a dystopian ‘Ununited Kingdom‘ where the counties and shires have devolved into separate kingdoms again and are constantly niggling against each other, and as you might expect bureaucracy has gone mad too.  Jennifer is thrust into a situation where it’s difficult for her to know who to trust, everyone has their own agenda, and ultimately she must go by her own instincts to sort things out. She does have help though from young Tiger – another foundling, Kazam’s magicians of course, and her pet Quarkbeast – the softest, yet scariest pet monster you’ll ever encounter!  Jennifer is a plucky heroine – the sort of girl who’ll grow up into being the next Thursday Next – I really liked her.

In creating this richly detailed world, Fforde doesn’t write down for the younger audience at all.  I enjoyed it so much it was all over too quickly, but I’d heartily recommend to older children and anyone who is young at heart. (9/10)

Pub: Nov 2010, Hodder & Stoughton, Hdbk, 281pp, £12.
I bought this book.

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The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde

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