Hodder & Stoughton is delighted to announce the acquisition of Jasper Fforde’s first work for a younger generation of readers. Hilarious, offbeat and bewitching, The Last Dragonslayer is the first in the Dragonslayer trilogy, and the beginning of a truly exciting new work.
In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in the magic release form B1-7g. But somewhere, somehow, the magic started draining away.
Jennifer Strange runs Kazam!, an employment agency for state-registered magicians, soothsayers and sorceresses. But work is drying up. Drain cleaner is cheaper and quicker than a spell. Why trust a cold and drafty magic carpet when jetliners offer a comfy seat and an in-flight movie? And now potions are eligible for VAT…
But then the visions start. The Last Dragon is going to be killed by a Dragonslayer at 12.00 on Sunday. The death will unleash untold devastation on the UnUnited Kingdom, setting principality against dukedom and property developer against homesteader. And all the signs are pointing to Jennifer Strange, and saying “Big Magic is coming.”
The Last Dragonslayer is fizzing with all the creativity and genius Jasper Fforde’s fans delight in, and will appeal as much to the young at heart as to the younger readers for whom it is written.
I’m a great fan of Jasper Fforde’s adult work and so was absolutely delighted to see this announcement. Now I realize we often aren’t too happy when adult writers decide to do kid books, but Fforde’s sensibility, I feel, is on the mark for this. Witty, silly, quirky, and in the tradition of Lewis Carroll when it comes to language play. I’m very, very hopeful. (I also noticed that there is a new Thursday Next book due out soon — starring the “written Thursday Next” as opposed to the real one. Hmmm.)
A dystopian novel from the author of the delightful Thursday Next and Nursery Crimes books, Shades of Grey will be out here in the US in a few weeks. I enjoyed it tremendously, partly because Fforde’s brave new world is as witty and fully realized as his other alternative worlds, partly because I found his new hero very endearing, and partly because the plot became more and more intriguing as I read on.
Jasper Fforde loves words, loves silly bits, loves envisioning other worlds filled with literary bric-a-brac*, and clearly loves to tell his readers, in ample detail, about these other worlds. I suspect you have to be the sort of reader that adores this to truly enjoy this book. That is, the plot for this one is a bit slow to kick in and for a while you just need to go with the flow, soaking up the many details of this strange future.
It consists of a world hobbled by a Colortocracy ruling a class structure built on the color spectrum. And as is always the case with Fforde the results are incredibly clever. Something That Happened way back, it seems, we don’t know what, has caused a progressive intentional dumbing-down of society. Why they keep Leaping Back, getting rid of technology of one sort or another, we aren’t yet sure. We do know it is a society of irrational rules (they reminded me of the ones developed by Terry Pratchet for his Bromeliad Trilogy) which some do question, but more do not.
I eagerly await the next two in the series (Painting by Numbers and The Gordini Protocols) in which I hope we learn more about Something That Happened, whether a Red and a Yellow can meld despite societal taboos, and if sporks are the answer.
*At one point (and I can’t find the page anymore, sorry) there is a reference to one of the many, many rules those in this society live under — that there can be no “fainting in coils.” Someone (our, hero, I believe) asks what that means, but no one (of course) knows. But I do! Straight from the Mock Turtle’s Story in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.