Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton, 2011
Page count: 190 pages
Jennifer Strange is wise beyond her years. A foundling left in an old Wolksvagen Beetle as a baby, Jennifer was raised by the sisterhood of The Blessed Ladies of the Lobster before being sent to Kazam, a magical agency, at age 10. Now she is six years into her indentured service, which entails being the receptionist, driver, accountant, mailman, and administrative do-it-all for all the sorcerers, carpeteers, soothsayers and weathermongers affiliated with Kazam. Unfortunately, running an old-fashioned magical agency is an uphill battle in the face of modern inventions and a population sceptical of magic. So Jennifer and the wizards have to take what little work they can find, whether it involves retrieving lost objects, teleporting double-parked cars, or rebuilding collapsed bridges.
One day, one of Kazam’s precogs (sorcerers who have visions of the future) foresees the death of the last dragon. The Ununited Kingdoms immediately go into a frenzy because huge tracts of land currently tied up in the Dragonlands will be up for grabs the moment the dragon is killed by the last dragonslayer. Jennifer, however, worries about the dragon dying, as this might kill off the last remnants of magic power in the world, effectively putting Kazam out of business. Spoiler alert! She therefore tracks down the single remaining dragonslayer in the world to convince him to spare the dragon, only to find herself being tricked into becoming the last dragonslayer herself! All of a sudden, the world’s eyes turn to her, with all the prophesies, political intrigues, merchandising offers, and sleazy game shows that entails. But how can Jennifer kill the dragon when his death is the last thing she wants… Spoiler ends.
True to form, Jasper Fforde has once again created a unique mix of fantasy and magic commingled with a topsy-turvy version of modern Britain. While different from the Thursday Next seris (of which I’m a huge fan), The last dragonslayer is nonetheless a very light read that works impeccably, and I found both the story per se as well as the skewed take on modern-day life hugely entertaining. A great way to pass an evening!