27 July 2012

Book Report: Jasper Fforde's Dragonslayer Series... Sorta

Dragonslayer series covers. (Source)

Yes, I've read the first two books of this series. Book 3 isn't out in the US, yet. It will be out in the UK this year, but not here until 2014, per Jasper Fforde's website. No, I haven't gotten around to writing my book report for them, despite having told you I would. I've finished 8 books and read parts of 15 books since then, and the longer I put it off, the harder it is to remember what I intended to say. Sigh. I've decided it doesn't much matter.

The main point of this is that Jasper Fforde is pretty much brilliant. I am consistently amazed at how his brain works. How does he come up with this stuff, time after time after time?? I'm a big fan of his Thursday Next series, and the Dragonslayer series is no less wonderful.

The man, the myth, the legend, Jasper Fforde. (Source)
I actually got to meet him once. He did a book signing, reading, and Q&A at a little book store in Washington, DC, when I was still living up there. I got several copies of his then-new Thursday Next: First Among Sequels autographed, along with a couple of pictures (which I really need to locate and post here). He's just as fascinating and funny in person as his writing. I was delighted. :)

One of the things he talked about was dealing with his loose ends. He writes loose ends into his books that he doesn't know how or when they'll be tied up. He said that sometimes it just works out to tie a loose end from a previous book into a sequel, or into another series, but that he doesn't always necessarily intend for one to work out that way. He said that sometimes he's just as surprised at how things turn out as any reader is while reading it. I love that!

So the Dragonslayer series is about a group of misfit magicians who live in a world where magic exists in daily life, and a time in which it is heavily regulated by governmental bureaucracy. Incidentally, in this version of reality, there is a whole class of people entirely consisting of "foundlings" (unwanted babies that are orphaned or abandoned) who essentially become the slave race. There are vast wars with a race of giant trolls who think of humans as vermin and leave many human widows and orphans as a result. There are invented creatures, as well as mythical ones (dragons, et al), such as the quarkbeast. I know, I know. This description makes it seem really depressing, but it's not! Fforde is one of the funniest writers I've ever read!

Side note: he creates these parallel universes for each of his series that intersect with ours and with his other universes by turns. I keep thinking "delightful" and can't quite come up with any better description, so I'll just keep saying it.

The Last Dragonslayer (first book of the series) is about a young foundling who is the last dragonslayer and what happens when she has to slay the last dragon.

The Song of the Quarkbeast (second book) continues to follow the former dragonslayer, and the group of magicians she runs, into a new adventure.

In the interests of not spoiling this ingeniously delightful and astoundingly creative work, I'm not going to tell you all about these books. I changed my mind. You can't make me tell you. Go read them. Seriously. They're really enjoyable.

Much love,

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