The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The Nitty Gritty: Magic is fading, getting Draino is cheaper than hiring a wizard to clear out those rusty pipes. Jennifer Strange is the foundling manager of Kazam Magical Arts Management, an employment agency for magicians. Jobs and money are tight since all magic is drying up, and worse her boss, Mr. Zambini, has disappeared. Literally. On top of babysitting a tower full of magicians someone predicts the death of the last dragon. The new sends the country into a tizzy. Hundreds of acres of land and billions of moolah is up for grabs.
And Jennifer finds herself at the epicenter of all the action.
Opening Line: "Once, I was famous."
The Good: It was a quick and light read filled with a few chuckles here and there. Fford is capable of creating new and exciting worlds effortlessly. As a reader you just slide right into the world without realizing you've fallen down the rabbit hole. Jennifer wasn't an annoying, whining 'woe is me' teenager which I found so refreshing I could have cried. Her boss disappeared and she could have gone to pieces about it and did a Bella, but she didn't. She put on her big girl panties and kept the business going and the cogs moving as smooth as they can when you are dealing with magicians.
Jennifer has a pet, a Quarkbeast. A strange animal that only its mother could love. It has razor sharp teeth, strikes fear in everyone it meets, and has a long list of mysterious qualities that you learn about throughout the entire book. For some reason I really liked that. Its not a fluffy dog or a fat, pampered cat that she keeps in a travelling case. Its just an usual morsel and I gobbled it right up.
The Bad: Well this book is a little light on an actual story. First the real action doesn't start till more than half way through the book and second there wasn't a whole lot of action going on. This book is sort of like Indian Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. This book would have turned around the exact same way without Jennifer Strange, the protagonist of the book. So I really couldn't understand why she was the main character. Things just happened to her. She wasn't proactive in anything, she didn't move the plot along. She let other push her around and dictate how things would go and what would happen. She seemed better suited to her management role at Kazam, but she didn't transfer those skills to her dragonslaying. She was a leaf caught in the current of a docile stream.
We are introduced to a George RR Martinesqe number of characters for no reason at all. It felt like the characters were used as world building instead of using actual world building.
And the actual currency in this book is called Moolah. Now I'm not sure if this is meant to be cheeky or just lazy but I found it extremely annoying. I've seen Fforde do better.
Final Thoughts: Against my better judgement I am going to continue with the series. Fforde is a great storyteller and this opening salvo could get better with age.