The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1

Book review by
Michael Berry, Common Sense Media
The Last Dragonslayer: The Chronicles of Kazam, Book 1 Book Poster Image
Talky but funny fantasy takes a while to get going.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The Last Dragonslayer is set in a fantastic, magical version of Britain. Although the novel offers little insight into the realities of modern-day England, its playful, jokey prose provides a smattering of literary stimulation.

Positive Messages

The characters are all very much sticklers for the rules, whether in regard to magic or politics or household chores. Much of the plot revolves around the question of whether it's worth following the rules, even though they'll probably lead to an undesirable outcome. Doing the right thing is ultimately rewarded.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jennifer Strange is a very resourceful young woman, used to making decisions for herself and the team of unruly magicians she manages. When she's forced to accept a terrible responsibility, she faces it with bravery and a desire to do the right thing.

Violence

There's virtually no violence in The Last Dragonslayer until the climax, at which point a couple of likeable characters meet their individual fates.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Japer Fforde'sThe Last Dragonslayer is the first book in The Chronicles of Kazam series. It's a somewhat slow-moving and rather talky but humorous fantasy adventure about magicians concerned with finding the last dragonslayer and witnessing the return of Big Magic. There's little violence until the tale's climax, when a couple of likeable characters meet their individual fates. There's virtually no objectionable content and plenty of absurdist humor.

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What's the story?

Fifteen-year-old foundling Jennifer Strange runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management, keeping track of a motley team of magicians who've been reduced to unblocking drains and rewiring homes due to a lack of magical energy to draw on. But Big Magic may be about to reappear in the world, and various psychics have begun to predict the death of the last dragon. No one know who the last dragonslayer is fated to be, but two nations are willing to go to war to claim the lands once inhabited by the magical lizard.

Is it any good?

The tone of this book will be familiar to anyone who's read Jasper Fforde's absurdist fantasies for adults, but it's not a tone that translates particularly well to the YA market. Digressive and discursive, The Last Dragonslayer seems to take forever to drop into gear. Once it does, there are some intriguing plot developments, but it may be too little too late for some readers.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the enduring appeal of dragons in literature, movies, and legends. Why do they remain popular and compelling, even to modern readers and moviegoers? 

  • Do you think there's such a force as destiny? Are people "fated" for one particular outcome over another?

  • What it might be like to be an indentured servant until your 18th birthday?

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