The Last Dragonslayer is the first in what will be a YA trilogy, and was just released in the U.S. I like Jasper Fforde and had my eye on this for a while, so when it came out I bought is right away.
I’m feeling particularly lazy this morning, so here’s the description from the back of the book, which is way better than the description I would be able to come up with…
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.
Seee, doesn’t it just sound awesome? And it was. It was all the weird quirkyness and Britishness of Jasper Fforde, but in YA form. The writing was easy and witty. The magical set-up is interesting – since magic is fading, the magicians try to conserve their energy down to the last shandar (unit of magic), and use their magic to earn money and pay the bills.
Like Fforde’s Thursday Next series, this book is set in an alternate-Britain – the characters live in the Ununited Kingdoms, magic exists but is strictly regulated, dragons are a fact of life, indentured servitude still exists, etc. Quarkbeasts exist, and they are awesome. I want one.
Jennifer Strange was a likeable girl – she’s young but also responsible, good, and a little sassy. She handles all that life gives her admirably, even when she doesn’t think she’s up for it.
Overall, this was a really fun read and while the plot was tied up pretty well, it also set the stage for the next books with unanswered questions like “Where did Mr. Zambini go?”. I’m very eagerly awaiting the U.S. release of the second book, The Song of the Quarkbeast. Sadly, there’s no release date yet.
Sarah Says: 4 stars