It’s time for another book review! This time it is Jasper Fforde’s The Last Dragon Slayer.
I have a confession, I love Jasper Fforde, but I love him because of his books for young adults/adults. Thursday Next, Nursery Crime, those types of things. They are fantastic. Really funny, witty, full of puns, and just wonderful. If you have time, and want to read some adult books, check him out.
Now, on with the review!
In the land of England, magic is fading.
Jennifer Strange is doing her best to keep the magician employment agency she works for afloat, but as each day passes, the magicians can do less and less. The magic just can’t be used like it used to.
That is, until the prophesy happens. Every mystic in the land has a vision in which The Last Dragon in the land killed by a Dragonslayer–when that happens, the Dragon Lands are ripe for the taking.
That’s when the trouble begins, the Big Magic starts, and the greed sets in. When Jennifer becomes the last Dragonslayer, it falls on her to either accept her Fate and kill the Dragon, or to thwart Fate and do what she deems right and just. With opinions flying from all sides, promotional offers coming left and right, two kingdoms at war, and questionable truths, it is up to Jennifer to figure out the who is friend, who is foe, and who just wants a piece of the land.
What I liked:
Fforde’s writing is great. It is strong and clear, fun, and easy to understand. He develops characters well, and builds believeable worlds. His characters are often funny and complex.
The concept of the story was really interesting. Magic is fading, until the prophesy happens and the Big Magic starts. It’s an interesting look at fate versus free will, duty versus honor, and loyalties.
Jennifer is a young girl with many responsibilities. She is in charge of adults, and how she shoulders that responsibility is interesting. Where she finds friends and allies are not always the most likely of places, and looks can be deceiving.
What I didn’t like:
Do you ever start reading the first book in a series and wonder if it is actually the first book? Do you feel like you’ve missed some essential concept of the world and characters and don’t know where to go to fix your missing information?
that’s how I feel about this book. I am all for In Medias Res, but I really felt like I missed something important. I don’t understand the rules of the world, or the background, or where the characters are coming from, and that makes connecting with the story really hard.
As much as I wanted to absolutely love it, I only liked it. I didn’t know why things were the way they were in the land. I suppose it might be explained more in the other volumes, but I haven’t read them. I like stories to at least set me up for understanding.
That was my only complaint. I wanted more set up, more world building. I think I also felt a bit cheated because of how much I enjoyed Fforde’s other books. I wanted more along those same lines, with the literary humor and the like, despite this story not having those qualities (and I freely admit that those are my expectations being imposed, not necessarily a fault with the book).
That being said, this book is in our Award section, since it’s actually been on a few notable lists. It was fun, but not as fun as some of the author’s other works. I would still suggest you pick it up. Maybe you’ll discover something in it that I missed. Read it. Form your own opinion. Let me know what you thought. I’d love to hear from you.