Almost a year ago I reviewed The Last Dragon Slayer, written by my favorite fantasy author, Jasper Fforde. The tale of teenager Jennifer Strange and her struggle between her duties as a dragon slayer and her own moral compass, along with a colorful cast of charming characters, was a very entertaining, funny, and sometimes saddening read. I still highly recommend it. The recently released sequel to The Last Dragon Slayer is The Song of the Quarkbeast. From the minute I heard there would be a second book, I had very high expectations, and thought of multiple possible plots for this novel, because I have that kind of free time.
The Conch has spoken!
Would it be primarily about people/dragon relations? Would we learn more about the new dragons? Would they cause problems for Jennifer, or would they remain peaceful? What about Jennifer being a berserker—would that be involved? Spoilers after the jump.
“Two people tried to kill me; I was threatened with jail, had sixteen offers of marriage and was outlawed by King Snodd. Today you will have not heard of me… my name is Jennifer Strange.”
So begins the first book of Jasper Fforde’s young adult series: The Last Dragonslayer. Not quite 16-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an employment agency for sorcerers. In the good old days, magic was powerful, unregulated by government, and even the largest spell could be woven without filling in magic release form B1-7g. Then the magic started fading away. Strange isn’t magical, but she is resourceful and extremely responsible, considering her teenage status. She runs a large operation and is constantly surrounded by many magical beings and objects, including the fearsome looking Quarkbeast, which strikes terror in the hearts of anyone that approaches—although the Quarkbeast is actually quite harmless (so far). Though it is aimed at young adults, it’s a great read for not-quite-as-young adults as well. Anyone who likes magic, sorcery, dragons, and hilarity will love it. The sequel is called The Song of the Quarkbeast, and the USA version will be published in 2013.
I’m sure I am starting to sound like a book salesman by all the love I have for these authors, but I’m sure this time you will forgive me. The Thursday Next series is a series made for book lovers everywhere. It asks an important question almost all avid readers have asked themselves: How do the words on paper become images in my head? Through the (so far) six books in the series Jasper Fforde (not a typo, that’s just how Ffreaking awesome he is) creates a world very different from our own. In this world, literature is king and books are what people fight over, love, hate, and even worship. Technology is also more advanced. However this world is not perfect. For instance there is still television with all its mind numbing glory, there is war and struggle. There is a high tax on cheese and the giant corporation Goliath is always pushing its agenda on the general public. All is not lost though, because Thursday Next is here to set everything straight (well as straight as it can be).
Starting in the series as both single and in her mid-thirties, Thursday is already a bit different than most female main characters. She is a member of SO-27, the Literary Detectives. Armed with her badge, gun, and black leather jacket, Thursday is undoubtedly cool. Despite this coolness, she is not invincible. Thursday has problems like any other person. Her father, Colonel Next, is permanently time traveling, her pet dodo bird Pickwick wont listen, and her mother Tuesday just can’t seem to understand why Thursday isn’t married yet. It’s not all fun and games though. When things go wrong in the Outland (the real world) Thursday manages to escape to a place that most bibliophiles would give their good pair of reading glasses to go to: the BookWorld. After brusque training with Miss Havisham, Thursday ends up working for Jurisfiction, the policing agency within the BookWorld. There she battles the Minotaur, bookworms (less cuddly than they sound), grammasites, and other monsters. While still trying to dodge her outlander enemies, and recover from painful memories of the past, Thursday manages to convey an interesting, well-rounded, and strangely real person. If ever there was someone to be termed BAFM (Bad Ass Fucking Mother) she would be it. The first book is The Eyre Affair in this book you will find beloved characters from literature along with some new ones that will surely turn your page. Also check out Fforde’s Nursery Crime series and his latest book Shades of Grey. So what are you waiting for, an invitation? Get reading!