I once tried reading The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde, but both the plot and the humor eluded my grasp. I did better, or Mr. Fforde did, with The Last Dragonslayer. The humor in this book reminded me of The Princess Bride or Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. High praise indeed.
Almost-sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is temporary manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an employment agency for sorcerers, magicians, and wizards, most of whom are almost out of “wizidrical” energy. Magic has been waning in the UnUnited Kingdoms for the last four hundred years, give or take, since the initiation of the Dragon Pact. The dragon population has also been dwindling, and now the kingdoms are down to one last dragon. And one last dragon-slayer.
I think this book will appeal more to teens and young adults rather than middle grade readers. The humor is wry and witty and based on making fun of human materialism, greed, and warlike tendencies. Jennifer, the protagonist, does a lot of running around trying to figure out what’s happening and how she can manage the magical events that are mostly out of her control. Other than that, not much really happens. But it is funny. As a sidekick Jennifer sports a Quarkbeast, a “ferocious beast” who looks like “an open knife drawer on legs” and whose only line is “Quark,” spoken at appropriate intervals. And the book also features aging wizards and dragons in various stages of decrepitude and disrepute, a crazy, greedy king, and a Slayermobile (Rolls-Royce). What else could a reader ask for? I can picture this book as a movie. Maybe it’s already been optioned.
Two more books are coming in the series, The Chronicles of Kazam, The Song of the Quarkbeast and The Return of Shandar. The Song of the Quarkbeast has already been published in the UK, but it’s not yet available in the United States. I’m looking forward to reading both of them.
There is also a Last Dragonslayer iPhone App?!!! (Of course, there is.)