This post was sitting in my Drafts since, oh, I honestly don’t remember. I’m going to finish it off and push it out. It may lack some length and quality…
There are some authors who hold a special place in a reader’s life. For me, the stalwarts of comic fantasy are there; authors such as Douglas Adams, and Terry Pratchett. (Though I have felt that Pratchett’s last few books didn’t have the same spark as his other work. An issue that Adams will sadly never have.)
Anyhow. My point is that I have some favourite authors. Jasper Fforde is one of those authors. I don’t buy the dead-tree versions of books anymore. A combination of reasons: the cost is higher, I don’t need to keep a hard-copy, and something about the environment. I will generally try to buy the paper copies of Fforde’s books.
The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
I’m going to recycle some Brief author notes: Jasper Fforde is a living British author, quite prolific (twelve full-length novels in as many years, with at least another four in various planning stages), who writes alternate history, comic fantasy, surrealist humour fiction. He is currently working on books in four series: the Thursday Next novels, the Nursery Crime Division novels, the Shades of Grey novels, and the Dragonslayer trilogy. And yes, I’ve read all of them.
(Meta note: this is as far as I got with my draft. Maybe this is going to be a little harder than I expected to push out…)
So, we’re once again in the realms of things fantastic. The world has magic, but it’s mundane, boring, dwindling, and so tied up in red-tape that most of the time it’s not worth the effort. Jennifer Strange is nominally in charge of the wizards, seers and sorcerers of the Kazam Magical Agency. When the death of the last dragon is predicted, she is revealed by ancient prophecy to be the last Dragonslayer, and must do her duty. However, when the dragon itself wishes to be slain, things seem a little strange.
(More meta notes: honestly, the plot is a little straightforward, but if I was going to try to explain it properly, I’d have the mention Tiger Prawns, a foundling sent to Jennifer, from the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster, and why he must face nine years of indentured servitude. I’d have to explain about Quarkbeasts, and why they shouldn’t eat galvanised steel. About the history of magic, and why magicians generally are devious. About thinly veiled social criticism about avarice, greed, power, democracy, the role of the media in the forming of opinions, and just how quickly people can become accustomed to the bizarre. Oh wait, it looks like I’ve accidentally provided a strange summary regardless.)
The book is fun. It’s a bit of a departure from Fforde’s other work: it is far less literary-based than the Thursday Next novels (see reviews here and here (more to come, I’m sure)). Tt inhabits a different world from the Colours novels (one, happily, quite less dire and dystopian), and is more approachable to young readers than the Nursery Crime books.)
(More oddness: my spellchecker suggested that I replace ‘dystopian’ with ‘utopian’. That’s, uh, strange.)
This is possibly the most scattered review I’ve done. The story is good, the world is well-rendered, and it’s not overly heavy in either prose or themes. Good fun.
Purchasing through these links earns me fractions of cents.
Kindle: again, Amazon won’t let me link to the Kindle version. Use the Paperback version above, and change formats.