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The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 Hardcover – October 2, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 4-8-Once magic was powerful and very useful, but as the dragons have been dying off, it has been fading. Now its powers are only used for mundane purposes such as rewiring houses or delivering pizzas by magic carpet. With the prediction of the death of the last dragon by Kazam Mystical Arts Management's seers, 15-year old foundling Jennifer Strange, the agency's acting director, is suddenly sent headlong into events that will change her life and the lives of all in the UnUnited Kingdoms. Little does she know the role she is destined to play in the dragon's death or in the coming of what is known as Big Magic. Suddenly Jennifer becomes known as the Last Dragonslayer, and is fighting off commercial endorsements and driving the armored Slayermobile while trying to avoid a war between her kingdom and the neighboring duchy. While this all seems very dark and ominous, Fforde keeps the puns and humor flowing, and populates the tale (Harcourt, 2012) with outrageous individuals and fantastic creatures. The plot is engaging, and Jennifer is a mature and well-developed character whose intelligence, strong morals, and ingenuity help her through some very difficult decisions. Elizabeth Jasicki channels the book's wittiness impeccably, and presents each character with just the right voice and accent, from polite Jennifer to the gruff, wizened Maltcassian the Dragon. Listeners will be captivated by this first title in a trilogy and will eagerly await the further adventures of Jennifer, her pet quarkbeast, and her assistant, Tiger Prawns.-MaryAnn Karre, West Middle School, Binghamton, NYα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

"With 'The Last Dragonslayer' fans of Jasper Fforde's best-selling 'Thursday Next' and 'Nursery Crime' series will be delighted that Fforde's talent for world-building, his skewed sense of humor and his searing satire come through full force."
New York Times Book Review

“Features the same delightful mix of magic and everyday absurdity that characterizes [Fforde’s] other books. . . . Readers both young and adult will get hours of pleasure visiting these Ununited Kingdoms.”
—NPR Books, online review

"Fforde's foray into children's books will delight readers who like their fantasy with a dash of silliness.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Humor abounds, but so does heart, as readers are introduced to a heroine who is practical, smart, and true."
School Library Journal, starred review

"Fforde's fantasy is smart, funny, and abundantly imaginative in its critique of commercial culture. . . . Reminiscent of Pratchett in tone, this is nevertheless Fforde’s own creature entirely—and entirely satisfying.”
Horn Book

“Fantasy readers with a taste for the silly should appreciate the subverted tropes.”
Kirkus

"Thoroughly entertaining . . . readers will easily sit back and enjoy the fun.”
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 850L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Chronicles of Kazam (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (October 2, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547738471
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547738475
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (220 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #190,333 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring vacantly out of the window and arranging words on a page. He lives and writes in Wales. The Eyre Affair was his first novel in the bestselling Thursday Next series. He is also the author of the Nursery Crime series.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on January 9, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Fforde is one of those authors that I found quite by accident while looking another one up and than couldn't help but keep reading. His Thursday Next series (which has a sequel due out this year!) is a delightfully entertaining mystery quasi-fantasy that's full of clever puns and satirical renditions of our own world. The Last Dragonslayer is no different, just its a young adult fantasy series.

While I had no idea this was coming out I'm glad that I came across it because it was pure entertainment to read. The book has a very British feel to it, which it should since British author + British environment, which includes the humor. There's a little slapstick (Gordon von Gordon taking care of some of the reporters was a good laugh), some irony (what happened to the Great Zambini...) and dry humor (The Blessed Sisterhood of the Lobster?). As the kid who grew up on the BBC more often than Nickelodeon it made me all warm inside.

Much of the world is built upon being like ours, but slanted a ways. The UnUnited Kingdoms? I'm guessing because of the magical influence, and the Dragons, things developed differently. The Dragons, after the Dragonpact some 400 years earlier, were each given a fairly large chunk of land, some of which sat in the middle of Kingdoms. Some things, like the Consolidated Useful Stuff business seems to be a direct jab at mega-corporations like Wal-Mart (aka The Evil Empire in my household).

Jennifer, indeed all the characters, don't act like you'd expect. There are several twists and clever plays on how the smallest idea can become a firmly entrenched belief. Or how prophecy will always find ways to make itself come true (though maybe not for the reason you expect).
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By sazbah on April 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Before I start, I'll point out this is a children's book, and I've regarded it, and starred it as such. I think it would be a great read for children around the ages of 10 and 12.

The Last Dragonslayer is the tale of 'foundling' (orphan) Jennifer Strange, and a re-imagined 'Ununited Kingdoms', a UK much similar to one we know, but divided into feuding kingdoms; a place where magic exists, but is dying.

Jennifer works at one of the last two remaining wizard agencies: talent agencies representing wizards. It's a bizarre place, filled with hilarious characters, unpredictable magic, and a Transient Moose.

The world, the characters--the creatures--are characterised by Fforde's typical brand of charming absurdism, and The Last Dragonslayer is genuinely one of the best children's novels I've encountered in a long time. Imagine you're a 10 year old, and Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett (both of whom I'm forever comparing with Fforde) write about a UK where dragons and magic still exist, adults are even weirder than they already are, and you can have a pet that's one part velociraptor, one part kitchen blender, one tenth golden lab, and eats tin cans for breakfast. Wow.

Fforde tells a magical story of corrupt government, corporate (and individual) greed, lobsters, personal sacrifice, values, and it's one where the good guy wins--but at a cost. The story is intelligent, yet never condescending. There's a very strong moral message in the book, butit's not at the cost of a marvellous story.

I often find Jasper Fforde's writing quite dense (not a criticism--just an observation), so it was very interesting reading this, as, while his trademark humour is still there, his writing is much changed for a younger audience.

The Last Dragonslayer deserves to be up there with Harry Potter and The Philospher's Stone and Artemis Fowl--and should appeal to fans of both.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J.E. Rogers on January 28, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Last Dragonslayer, is another amazing `trip.' Somehow Fforde is able to mingle the ordinary with the extraordinary, and he's a wiz at it. This book is no different than his others. My first experience with Fforde was The Fourth Bear: A Nursery Crime. In that book nothing in our nursery rhyme memories is sacred. We meet Detective Jack Spratt and Sergeant Mary Mary. Then there's The Big Over Easy: A Nursery Crime. Who pushed Humpty Dumpty anyway!?

I digress. I was supposed to review The Last Dragonslayer.

In the Ununited Kingdom, Jennifer Strange, an orphan from the Blessed Sisterhood of the Lobster (yes, that's where she's from), has been put in charge of Kazam. Kazam is an employment agency for magicians. Seems really bazaar, but wait there's more! It gets more bazaar. Pizzas are delivered on magic carpets. There's Tiger Prawn, Jennifer's assistant, there's the Transient Moose, who just sort of shows up wherever he likes. Then there's the Quarkbeast, and the dragon Maltcassion, of course, and there are many others. Don't for a minute think that all Fforde's silliness, satire and puns are for naught. Not in the least. There are a number of moral issues embedded in the story. Some messages relate to big business, others point directly to environmental issues. We also see a lesson about getting along with each other (an age old problem). You'll recognize your own world, but it will be slanted and twisted while the message somehow shines through. All and all, this is another wonderful story woven by the phantasmagorical mind of Jasper Fforde. Don't miss it, just for the fun of it.
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