by: Jasper Fforde
The Last Dragonslayer is my first Jasper Fforde book. I know he’s been really big for a while now but I just haven’t been enticed by his novels. I picked it up at the Texas Book Festival because, hey, he was there and the word dragon was in the title.
As with so many of my impulse book purchases, I was soon rewarded for my lack of money management. It’s the story of 15-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange, charged with managing a department of wizards in an age of declining magical power, getting caught in a land struggle between a kingdom, a duchy, and a dragon. There is intrigue, a quest of sorts, magic, mystical beasts, and, of course, a really bad-ass Rolls Royce. Jennifer is a fantastic heroine – a practical sort with bravery and intelligence. There is no emotional dilly-dallying or faintness of heart for this heroine; she’s too busy sticking to her guns and trying to save others. If she wins her battles, it’s certainly not going to be with love. (I’m looking at you, A Wrinkle in Time.) She remains me of Cimorene from The Enchanted Forest Chronicles.*
The story moves swiftly and with ease. The characters are engaging and fun to read about; they may not all be the best developed of characters-some are well-developed, some seem like they are going to develop in further books, and some are not at all-but the less developed characters play into the fantasy extraordinarily well. (We’ve all felt like we were dealing with King Snodd IV at one time or another.)
Fforde also sets the story in a world very much like modern-day London and uses it to poke fun at society a time or twenty, which places a nice layer of humor over the entire story. Probably more so if the reader is actually from England, but the English and American societies are alike enough for it to translate well.
So, readers, if you like strong heroines, well-paced adventures, enjoyable young adult fantasy novels in a modern-day setting, really awesome heroines, and a good time with an easy read, this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a traditional fantasy epic, action-packed, fight-orientated novels, or something to challenge your sense of reality and self, this, alas, is not the book for you.
*Cimorene, with her practical, take-charge-of-my-own-life,-thank-you-very-much personality, is in the list of top 5 book heroines I want to be. If you haven’t read The Enchanted Forest Chronicles, you certainly should read the first book as soon as humanly possible.