Alytha's Reviews > The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
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Jan 08, 12

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** spoiler alert ** The Ununited Kingdoms, ca 2007. Magic is slowly disapearing from the world, and this is thought to be caused by the deaths of the last dragons (hmm...that sounds familiar somehow...can't remember where from...), and Scotland is populated by Trolls.
In the Kingdom of Hereford, 14-year old Jennifer Strange, a foundling, is working off her indenture as manager of the Kazam House of Enchantment, a kind of agency that hires out magicians to do useful stuff like unclog drains ecologically, and rewire houses without ripping the walls open.

One day, every pre-cog in the country has a premonition that the last living dragon, Maltcassion, is going to die by the hand of the last Dragonslayer, on Sunday at noon. Immediately, thousands of people congregate outside the boundaries to the Dragonland.
(400 years ago, a pact was made between the dragons and a magician: the dragons would stay inside Dragonlands surrounded by magical forcefields, and not eat people, and in return they would be allowed to live out their lives in peace. So there's thousands of acres of prime, untouched land becoming available to the first claimant when the dragon dies).

Jennifer doesn't want the dragon to die, and so sets out to find out more about him. She meets the current dragonslayer, who is an ancient man, and finds out that she is fated to become the Last Dragonslayer. Somewhat without being asked, she is sworn in and gets the magic sword and the armored Rolls that come with the job.

As the Dragonland is quite coveted, both the King of Hereford and the Duke of the Duchy of Brecon on the other side of the Dragonland are assembling their armies at the borders, and Jennifer is threatened that war will break out if she doesn't follow the King's wishes.

Assisted only by her loyal Quarkbeast (the unholy lovechild of a labrador, a velociraptor and a knife drawer, although it hardly ever eats cats, or small children, and is extremely loyal), Jennifer sets out to save the dragon and prevent war...

This is the first book by Fforde oriented towards the YA market, but it is still quite readable for grown-ups (if I may count myself as such). The protagonist is the typical Ffordian cheeky, quickwitted (and mouthed) heroine, but not as annoying as one of these could become. The style is quickpaced and easy, with the usual Ffordian humour, if a bit tuned down, and the story has a couple of interesting turns in it.

Negative points: the ecological aspect of the story is a bit too heavyhanded, and a lot of the characters introduced never get to actually do anything, they're mostly quirky window-dressing.

In general, I liked it as a quick,easy read :) 7/10

(if you google images of the Quarkbeast, you get pictures of Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow...I dunno why...)
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