Book Review: Jasper Fforde’s Last Dragonslayer

Posted November 6, 2012 by Kathy Davie in

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jasper Fforde’s Last DragonslayerLast Dragonslayer is a hardcover edition on October 2, 2012 and has 287 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

four-stars

First in the Last Dragonslayer fantasy series for young adults about an orphan who believes in standing up for right and vanquishing wrong.

My Take

A light, fun read of absolute and total nonsense that points up the absurdities of commercialism from product endorsements to the canned content of talk shows, adventure parks to merchandising. Nor does Fforde leave corruption and greed out of the mix. I can’t wait to discover where Fforde takes us in the second book, The Song of the Quarkbeast, in this new series. He’s left us so very many possibilities!

I love it! Driving tests based on maturity. Can you imagine the havoc that would raise here? Hmmm, an interesting idea for parenting as well… Probably solve the overpopulation problem…snicker…

There’s an interesting crossover from computer languages in referring to magic: “…reconfiguring the root directory on the core spell language of ARAMAIC…” And just to be sure to catch all the worst of modern living, the red tape Fforde includes is…sigh…too funny for us and tedious for the characters.

All the talk of marzipan and yet Fforde never did give us a hint other than that it’s bad for you. And what was that about “purity”? I don’t recall it having been mentioned earlier in the story?

Oh yeah, watching the Quarkbeast pulverize a garden gnome as a party trick makes me feel better about his friendliness… Oh, yes, the new Dragonslayer’s response to the challenge that the caller is the true slayer! ROFLMAO!

I have to agree with Lady Mawgon. If the prediction is already out there and ConStuff is still willing to pay two million moolah for the prediction…why not take it?? I don’t see the downside. And I certainly don’t buy Jennifer’s argument. ConStuff may believe it, but it doesn’t mean the wizards have to. Besides all those people gathering on the edge of the Dragonlands already believe. One more ain’t gonna make that much of a difference.

The Story

The power of magic has ebbed and flowed through the centuries and now it’s dying. Where once magicians had the ear of kings, now they unblock drains.

The convergence of a prediction by scores of pre-cogs about the last dragon’s impending death and the upswell in magical power tips Jennifer and the magic users that Big Magic may be in their near future. There is a theory among wizards that the level of magic in the world corresponds to the number of dragons in the world.

That prediction has also caused a run on string and stakes for the populace, for the land belonging to a dragon is up for grabs as soon as s/he dies. Naturally, everyone wants a heads-up on when the dragon will actually die as it will give them a better chance of more land. And the king is one of those who pushes at the Last Dragonslayer to do as the king wills.

But the king is just one of the many who are pushing for a wrong.

The Characters

Jennifer Strange is sixteen, well, in two more weeks anyway, and she is covering up for the Great Zambini and running his magical rent-a-witch business, Kazam Mystical Arts Management, one of the few Houses of Enchantment still in business. It’s essentially, an old folks’ home for witches and wizards who are losing their powers. With Jennifer acting as babysitter and sales manager. The Quarkbeast simply appeared one day and loves Jennifer.

Horton “Tiger” Prawns is the newest foundling sold to Kazam.

The employees/consultants/inhabitants of Zambini Towers are a mixed bag with only nine of the forty-five actually able to work and the list includes Lady Mawgon, the most skilled if the most snobby and critical (she has fallen quite a way from when she was known as Master Sorceress, the Lady Mawgon, She-Whom-the-Winds-Obey); Dennis “Full” Price was once the venerable; and, Wizard Moobin—their best sorcerers. Full’s brother David is nicknamed “Half“. The Youthful Perkins is young and not very good with his subjective talent. Patrick of Ludlow is a Mover, and he’s a bit slow on the uptake. Prince Nasil is a carpeteer, one of two with Owen being the other. They earn an income for Kazar by delivering organs and pizzas and Chinese takeout. And they rarely mix up a delivery! The Remarkable Kevin Zipp is one of their pre-cogs along with Randolph, the Fourteenth Earl of Pembridge. The Mysterious X. Brother Gillingrex of Woodseaves is one of the least insane.

The Sisters Karamazov had also worked at a royal level, but they’re “mad as a knapsack of onions” these days. The Transient Moose is a leftover spell everyone hopes will dissipate soon. Monty Vanguard the Sound Manipulator is another resident. Mr. Stamford is a lapsed sorcerer from Mercia, one of three who have been drawn to the Dragonlands.

King Snodd IV rules the Kingdom of Hereford in the Ununited Kingdoms. And he is totally unscrupulous and “not averse to making edicts that were of financial interest to him and his immediate family”. His brother, Useless Brother, is a schemer as well as the Minister for Foundling Affairs. Berzerkers, highly unstable people with extraordinary powers, are part of the king’s army and an illegal weapon of war. The Earl of Tenbury is the king’s Chief Advisor. Detective Villiers and Sergeant Norton are royal police and total jerks. Hawker is a debt collector with a fictitious debt which the Dragonslayer counters most effectively. Sir Matt Grifflon is a gorgeous celebrity and an even greater jerk.

The Duke of Brecon rules the next door duchy; Snodd and the duke are in a constant state of war preparedness.

Due to budget cuts, the duke has his artillerymen yell “bang” in unison.

The Sisterhood, a.k.a., the Lobsterhood, and officially known as the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster runs an orphanage from Clifford Castle, and they sell the foundlings into apprenticeships when they reach age twelve. Mother Zenobia is the mother superior.

Maltcassion is the last dragon in the world, living on the Dragonlands that abut Hereford and Brecon. He’s quite gentlemanly and a positive thinker.

Mr. Trimble is a lawyer for Consolidated Useful Stuff, a corporation with its fingers in EVERYthing from land development to manufacturing, merchandising to, well, you name it. Gordon van Gordon Gordonson ap Gordon-Gordon of Gordon is a very enterprising man. That trick with the ad was clever. Turns out he’s even more enterprising than we thought. William of Anorak is an encyclopedia of knowledge. Brian Spalding is the Last Dragonslayer and he’s been waiting a mighty long time for his apprentice to show up. Exhorbitus is his sword. The Mighty Shandar wielded the greatest magic and created the Dragonpact with the Dragonslayers as the enforcers of the pact. Feldspar Axion Firebreath IV and Colin are the reborn.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a metallic golden green with a darker form of the greenish gold awkwardly scrolling about the border while an oranger version frames the title showcased in the middle above Jennifer’s old, orange bug car. The cover and the Volkswagen are grounded on a lumpy, bumpy blackish ground all a’tilt.

The title says it all, for this story is all about the purpose of The Last Dragonslayer.

four-stars

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