In the good old days, magic was indispensable—it could both save a kingdom and clear a clogged drain. But now magic is fading: drain cleaner is cheaper than a spell, and magic carpets are used for pizza delivery. Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, an employment agency for magicians—but it’s hard to stay in business when magic is drying up. And then the visions start, predicting the death of the world’s last dragon at the hands of an unnamed Dragonslayer. If the visions are true, everything will change for Kazam—and for Jennifer. Because something is coming. Something known as . . . Big Magic.
About the Author
Jasper Fforde (born 11 January 1961) is a British novelist. Fforde's first novel, The Eyre Affair, was published in 2001. Fforde is mainly known for his Thursday Next novels, although he has written two books in the loosely connected Nursery Crime series and has begun two more independent series, The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey. Fforde's books contain a profusion of literary allusions and wordplay, tightly scripted plots, and playfulness with the conventions of traditional genres. His works usually contain elements of metafiction, parody, and fantasy.
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I grabbed a kindle copy for a ridiculously outrageous price--was too impatient to wait for a 99 cent copy to arrive via mail.
Chapter 1 and 2 Thoughts:
Quite whimsical so far, albeit quite unbelievable. I think it's pretty funny how at the beginning of Chapter 1 we get to see this reversed parent/child relationship. Also, the power struggle between the three sorcerers and the crumbling esteem of the magical society will be an interesting twist to this novel. (I hope)
I will say that this seems to be almost a spoof of the traditional fantasy novel, degrading wizardry to nothing more important than a skill for handy(wo)men. I hope that it doesn't become too outrageous, but I can see the author had some fun taking liberties with the familiar fantasy setting adding in more modern elements throughout both chapters.
I already love the Quarkbeast who reminds me of Chewy from Star Wars or even some obscure cartoon character that I vaguely recognize from my childhood. He's already my favorite
So Finished the book Saturday evening - think I will be grabbing the rest of the trilogy to complete the experience.
I enjoyed the way it all came together with a current world mix up of technology and fantasy. I found the writing style interesting and feel it was definitely directed at a younger audience, this being said I still found the book to be an enjoyable read, the undertones in character creation giving it a nice push.
So a few things, I don't want to put to much here in case someone reads this by mistake, but first the quarkbeast.... Wow, when Jennifer mentions there likely origins I think I almost cried, especially considering the amount of orphans linked to the troll war, it makes me sad then that they are less common, though there must obviously be some magical ability involved.
Next is the whole hero anti hero concept. I love the way that the author spent the whole book making the hero to be some long lost wizard who in the end proves to be a conniving trickster who had a good understanding of contractual law, he even used the dragons power rather than his own to lock them away.
Finally Jennifer, So they mention berzerkers throughout the book and give a very brief explanation around them but never enough to really make you focus on them so t comes as quite a surprise when the main character turns out to be on and even more of a surprise disappointment when her power is essentially a magical scream of rage referred to as Big Magic.
So in short I found the book enjoyable if a bit lackluster or unfulfilling. It was simplistic and sweet and left me wanting more but I am unsure if that is because I liked the book or just feel that the ending was if anything incomplete. I will read the next two books as well as comment further should I see a need, i tried not to brazenly give too much away.
PS. Jennifer has bad taste in Idols and King Snodd is a useless prick.
Accidentally finished it over lunch, so spoiler warning;
HC kinda hit the nail on the head when he summarised it as simplistic and sweet. There are some genuinely lovely moments in the book, and it does approach humour in an endearingly Pratchett-esque way. I enjoyed the plot overall, and the ultimate twist in terms of Shandar's motivations and the nature of dragons. The hints at where Quarkbeasts come from were nicely done, and I found myself wanting to know more about the Troll Wars and the disappearing troops.
That said, I think the book's very clearly intended for younger readers, and that comes across most obviously in a technical sense. A lot of things just happen, in a series of progressively more unlikely events that very roughly come together to make the ending happen. I'm intrigued enough that I want to look into the other novels, just for the answers that are missing from this one, but it's never going to be more than a quick, casual read for me.
A couple of side notes;
- Snodd is a prick
- As are most of the people in his employ
- Tiger Prawns is the best name ever
- Specialisations within the magical folk at Kazam was a nice touch
- Berserk powers sort of come out of nowhere
- Non-standard looking dragons = thumbs up emoji
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Way behind but I read this and book 2 on the planes to and from Iceland.
So it's definitely a book for younger audiences, I'd go so far as to call it a children's book really, but I still loved it. Fun, super easy read with enough twists on a standard kid's fantasy novel to make it engaging and interesting. Quarkbeast was a definite highlight. Love that there's a strong female protagonist and that very little emphasis is ever placed on the fact she's female - just a badass 16 year old foundling. Tiger Prawns is a great addition too. Just really enjoyed it.
Lets not forget.... A badass 16 year old with a Good Moral compass. All round the books were amusing but I had the thought of how weird it would be to live in a world like that where people just seemed morally voided for the most part, made me shiver a little.
Yeah, I think the setting is really interesting and well crafted. It's turned up to extreme levels but the deliberate parallels to real life in terms of materialism etc. make it all the more unsettling.