In the good old days, magic was indispensable - it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery.
Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians - but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer.
If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam - and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.
©2010, 2012 Jasper Fforde (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
I consider myself a fan of Jasper Fforde's. I've now read everything he's published in the US, and I've enjoyed rather a lot of it. I like his weird worlds, his twists on reality that are almost plausible, and I like his sense of humor. This being a whole new series, I wasn't sure what to expect. I wound up liking it, though, and plan to read more.
The Last Dragonslayer is about Jennifer Strange, who's (almost) 16 and is a foundling in a world where magic exists. She runs an agency of magic users in the absence of the manager, who vanished in a magical accident. Her replacement, Tiger Prawns, arrives, and through his eyes we learn of the odd world Jennifer lives in, where there's one surviving dragon and magic has been steadily dwindling for years. Then, all of the world's precogs (seers and psychics, basically) have a vision of the world's last dragon dying, and millions of people converge on the dragon's territory hoping to grab a piece of land when the barrier keeping people out drops.
Jennifer is confused for two-thirds of the book, and, because the book is in first-person, that means the reader is, too. She pieces together the puzzle slowly, but all isn't revealed until the very last chapter. The action of the last third makes up for a lot of the confusion of the earlier sections.
I wondered, for most of the book, why the protagonist was female. She has a lot of traditionally masculine traits, and romance never comes into the equation. It would be a spoiler to say why I felt this choice was a masterful one, in the end.
Jennifer is a flawed hero. She takes on too much, says the wrong things at the wrong time, and often trusts the wrong people. She muddles through a lot of the plot, and she lets her anger get the better of her judgment more than once. She also has agency, sensitivity, and a strong sense of who she is.
This book has a lot less of the quirky humor I've come to enjoy in Jasper Fforde's books. There were some jabs here and there, but the book's tone is mostly serious.
It also lacks a lot of the YA trappings, though it is a YA book. There's no bad language or sex. But then, I don't recall a lot in Fforde's other novels. The biggest thing that marks this as YA is the age of the protagonist.
I listened to this book on audio. For the most part, Elizabeth Jasicki's narration was good and clear, and she sounded like a teenage girl. But, narrating dialogue, she often drawled, whispered, or did some combination of the two that quickly became grating. If she narrates the next books, I do hope she finds a better way of narrating dialogue.
Not complicated, but has all the charm of Fforde's other works. Definitely geared for the young adult market, but still fun to listen to. The narrator did a nice job, although I found her breathy, male voices a bit annoying, but not enough to distract from the story. Worth a listen.
I found the book light and refreshing. It is a well written pre-teen book but something that an adult can slip into and let the cares of the day fade. If you are looking for something more serious or along the line of Jasper Fforde's other novels this might be the book for you. If you can enjoy a basic story line with only a few minor twits this is a good one.
The description of the quark beasts statue.
First, I am a Jasper Fforde fan, having read all of the Thursday Next, Nursery Crimes and am anxiously awaiting the next Shades of Grey book. I was certainly not disappointed in the ideas in this book and would love to have an elevator that swoops me upwards. However, I just didn't feel as satisfied after finishing this book as I have after other Jasper Fforde books. Perhaps it's because it's the beginning of a series but it just seemed to lope along and then suddenly end. Though there was excitement and chases, I never felt like the book properly took off. I still give the book four stars based on the world and all of the fun little jokes. I just wanted a bit more.
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Jasper Fforde has proven his mastery of the alternate universe with his Thursday Next series (and the related Nursey Crime series), imagining a world where literature is intimately intertwined with reality (his alternate version of reality). With The Last Dragonslayer, Fforde creates an alternate universe where magic, dragons, kings and home improvement coexist uneasily in present-day England, hamstrung by government bureaucracy, an omnivorous media, corporate manipulation, and rising real estate prices.
As original as Thursday Next's world is, humorously applying the conventions of detective novels to a setting where the boundaries between literature and reality are blurred, the idea of placing magical beings in modern day society is hardly a new one -- way overdone, in fact. But Fforde pulls it off thanks to his impeccable sense of humor and comic timing. If you like Monty Python, you'll like Fforde -- he even has a short riff on the ethics of turning people into newts, an almost overt nod to MP and the Holy Grail.
If I have one minor bone to pick -- and why I stop short of going to five stars -- it's that once the plot kicks in, supplanting the detailed background on The Last Dragonslayer's alternate universe that occupies the first few hours, the joke quotient shrinks, and that's a shame, because the jokes are so good. The last few chapters wrap up way too quickly, which may only have been a problem because I wanted them to last longer -- but there are additional entries in the series, so that won't be a problem for very long.
I'm reminded when I listen to a book like this why I love listening to humorous fiction in audio -- why bother with any other genre? (Although of course I'll keep going back to the others.) This is certainly the one type of book where, indisputably, the voice in your earbuds has better comic timing and better dialects than the voice in your head. At least, if the narrator is doing a good job -- and Elizabeth Jasicki does an excellent job as the voice of Fforde's teenage heroine, Jennifer Strange.
This book is well read, and very enjoyable. The different voices used for the characters are excellent.
I love the humor of Jasper Fforde, it reminds me a bit of Terry Pratchett. It is a lot of fun, not super serious, but with a good message. I liked the ending, it is hard to do something new with dragons. I also REALLY want to try out the "elevator" in Kazam.
On the surface, this book might seem like a light read. But, it actually is packed with spot-on satire that are delivered in a highly entertaining way.
Jasper has done it again. He has taken all the sophisticated goofy wit and Monty Python style charm of his Thursday Next books and distilled into the character of 16-year-old Jennifer Strange and the insane world she inhabits. I loved it and just purchased the 2nd book in the series and will be back for each new installment. Elizabeth Jasicki is superb!
My name is Kira and I work as a librarian in utah. I love all kinds of books, but especially like fantasy and mystery.
fantasy adventure funny
That's tough. It would have to Jennifer Strange or the precog friend of hers. They seemed to stick in your mind and you wanted to follow their stories.
The Silent Governess, but they didn't really compare in terms of story. As a narrator, she did a great job portraying the heart of the main character.
Laugh, it was hilarious.
I love Jasper Fforde. I like Thursday, love the Nursery Crimes, and go back often to Shades of Grey, which keeps turning up new shades of meaning. I actually pestered Audible to make The Last Dragonslayer available in the U.S. Although I'm not at all sure that my pestering helped, I feel a bit responsible, and therefore want to warn others. This is in no way up to Mr. Fforde's standard.
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