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WesternSFA
The Last Dragonslayer
by Jasper Fforde
Harcourt, $16.99, 287pp
Release Date: October 2, 2012

This is the first young adult novel that Fforde has written and is the start of a new series, Chronicles of Kazam.

This was a very fun story. Jennifer Strange is a young foundling who has been left in charge of an employment agency for magicians but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is dwindling and most magicians are happy to find work rewiring houses or delivering pizza on a flying carpet. But many remember the good old days when magic meant real power. And when dragons were many…

The last dragon appears to be dying which means a Dragonslayer must be called. Jennifer is tricked into accepting the mantle of The Last Dragonslayer but the last thing she wants to do is slay the last old dragon. Besides, she has a sneaking suspicion that dwindling magic and dying dragons are somehow linked; but she can’t find anyone to talk to about it.

There’s a huge media circus building outside the dragon preserve and thousands of people are coming every day to be on hand when the dragon finally dies. Traditionally, once the dragon dies the pristine preserve is up for a land-grab; a sort of Oklahoma-land-rush kind of thing. There’s some great fun with some sneaky, conniving types who are trying to cash in on the dying dragon – both governmental and big corporation.

And poor Jennifer - trying to keep a dying business and a dying dragon from going under while avoiding being arrested by the king AND preventing an invasion is pushing the limits of her non-magical capabilities.

This was a lot of fun but I’m not a young adult. But I think it could be appealing. Jennifer doesn’t know it all but she’s willing to keep trying to do the right thing even in the face of people who don’t believe in her. She’s backed up by another young foundling and a kind of imaginary beast. And Fforde has a lot of fun poking at corporations, a silly king, and people’s expectations. It’s a very well-written plot and the characters were just right. ~~ Catherine Book

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