Guys! Guys! The new Jasper Fforde is out! I don’t know how we have all survived to this day! Well, I mean, some of us had ARCs. And probably some of us live in or ordered it from the UK, where it has been out for SIX MONTHS already. Those sneaky Brits. But if you aren’t one of those people? It’s here! Hooray!
There’s really not that much to say about The Eye of Zoltar that I haven’t already said about every other Jasper Fforde book ever, and especially about the other two books in the Last Dragonslayer series. You’ve got your Jennifer Strange, teen head of a wizarding corporation; you’ve got your Un-United Kingdoms, poised for war at any and every moment; you’ve got your wacky hijinks and puns and misunderstandings and deus ex machina…s?
This book picks up right after the last one left off, but you don’t need to have read that one because Fforde delivers a summary right at the start, which is sooooo useful because all the crazy he writes can get easily mixed up in my head. And besides, all that nonsense gets left behind when Jennifer goes off on what is very clearly not a quest (quests involve too much paperwork, you see) to find a probably nonexistent object for a usually inanimate but still very powerful magician. Before she can go off on this not-a-quest, she is also recruited by the king and queen to take their insufferable princess daughter, recently body-swapped with her own beleaguered servant, and train her up to be a useful human being. Just another day in the life of Jennifer Strange.
One of the weirder things about this book is that it gets downright educational. It turns out that the princess is some kind of economics genius and she explains things like futures and options and goat trade in a way that seems, to this reader with little knowledge of economics, to be pretty factual and useful if I ever want to rid myself of a goat surplus. Luckily all that learnin’ talk is surrounded by rubberized dragons and leaps of faith and 50 percent survival rates, so you don’t have to learn things if you’d rather not. Nice to have the option.
I am definitely intrigued to see where Fforde goes next with this series, but according to his website he is taking a break from dragon slayers for a little while and releasing a “super secret standalone novel” next year (oooooooh) and then, finally, a prequel to Shades of Grey in 2016, and holy crap I am so excited for that I can’t even. In the meantime, this book is the perfect cure for your Fforde withdrawal, post-summer reading slump, or general boredom.
Recommendation: For everyone, unless you don’t like weird humor, in which case I’m not sure why you’re here.