Friday, November 16, 2012

Book Review: The Last Dragonslayer

The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
Harcourt, 2012 (originally published 2010); 287 pages

Jennifer Strange is a fifteen-year-old orphan in a world where the parentless are used as indentured servants.  Jennifer manages an employment agency for wizards in the absence of the actual manager, but her staff has trouble finding work because magical power is fading and the wizards can't perform all the duties of which they used to be capable.  Then a few wizards with the ability to see the future predict the last dragon in the Ununited Kingdoms* (Fforde's alternate Britain) will be killed within the week.  Magic begins to return, for unknown reasons, as fear of a border war between two kingdoms becomes more and more likely.  (The last dragon's land holdings border two rival nations who plan to fight for control of the dragon's lands as soon as he's dead.)

On the whole, The Last Dragonslayer is another solid work from Jasper Fforde, but I'm probably biased because I think Fforde is BRILLANT.  It's not nearly as over-the-top as Thursday Next or Nursery Crimes, but not nearly as serious as Shades of Grey.  However, aspects of this alternate Britain don't really make much sense.  Fforde never explains why magic is weakening, or why orphans have almost no legal rights, or how the Ununited Kingdoms ended up disunited in the first place--were they always that way, or did a bigger country split up?  Also, the ending is a bit abrupt, but I think writing good endings is one of Fforde's weak points anyway.

Rating: 3.9/5.0

*This should, grammatically, be the Disunited Kingdoms, but that wouldn't fit with the acronym UK.


  1. I second the brilliance of Fforde. This is the only novel of his that I don't own yet, and I'm really hoping Santa brings it to me this year!

    1. I got it from the library. I placed a hold back in July, after checking the catalog twice a week for two months, just so I could be one of the first people to get a copy.

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