1/12/2011. Contributed by Sarah Bruch
pub: Hodder & Stoughton. 304 page hardback. Price: GBP12.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-44470-717-5).
check out website: www.hodder.co.uk and www.jasperfforde.com/dragon/dragon.html
‘The Last Dragon Slayer’ is the first in a new series by Jasper Fforde. Previously he has written in his own genre of ‘the path less trodden’, this being a genre that defies description. This is very much a change of genre for Fforde, although he still retains his quirky storytelling style. This book belongs more in the young adult fantasy genre. Fforde has already started three other series including five ‘Thursday Next’ books, two ‘Nursery Crime’ novels and one book in a new series called 'Shades Of Grey'. I think the best bet with all Fforde's books is don't describe them, just read them…all of them!
This book is set in a world not entirely unlike our own, apart from the addition of magic and a dystopian version of the UK (the UnUnited Kingdom). Unfortunately, the magic in this world has been gradually decreasing in strength over the past few years leaving people to use drain cleaner rather than a drain cleaning spell. Fforde focuses this book on a young fifteen year-old foundling called Jennifer Strange, the sixth foundling to be sent to Kazam employment agency for those of a magical inkling. Jennifer ensures all the magicians and other magical folk on her books are gainfully employed rewiring houses (I only wish it was as simple as magic in reality), although they would much prefer more heroic employment. Jennifer also has to deal with the paperwork now involved with magic...none of your flinging spells around randomly, they each have to be noted and reported in minute detail.
Everyone is happily going about their business when the visions start. Visions of the last dragon being seen off by the last dragonslayer. This is big news in the UnUnited Kingdom because it means a massive amount of land is about to be vacated by said dragon. Suffice to say the rest of the book is taken up with Jennifer fighting off big businesses intent upon getting their hands on the land, and trying to figure out what the death of the last dragon means to magic in her world. You’re going to love how she works it all out…I certainly did!
There are definite feelings of a Terry Pratchett in this book, more so than Fforde’s previous books because of the more magical genre. Although this is a very much shorter novel than I’m used to from either author. It’s definitely meant for the younger reader, but this does not make it a bad book, just not one with great character development or a detailed plot line. It does have the usual moral undertone always prevalent in Fforde’s novels and it has an interesting twist at the end. I would say that this is a book for the young adult and the older adult, too.
This definitely feels like a Fforde book with the splitting of the UK into various counties, this has been done in the ‘Thursday Next’ novels with Wales splitting from the UK. Fforde also shows us his discomfort with big business with Jennifers involvement in advertising Fizzy Pop. Fforde also seems to be highly interested in the theme of Big Brother, with everyone working for ‘The Man’ and reporting back to some large organisation.
One thing I love about all Fforde’s books is his use of playful names, for example in this book there is a character called Sage O’Neons. Interestingly, spell check in Word actually tries to change that to Onions! Personally I find this hilarious, I can see that it would irritate other readers.
Overall, I would recommend this book to all Fforde lovers, and I would also say it’s a great start into his mindset for those new to Fforde’s books. The next book in this series, which I’m looking forward to getting my hands on was released in November 2011 in hardback and is called ‘The Song Of The Quarkbeast’.
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