Thursday, October 16, 2014

Eye of Zoltar, by Jasper Fforde

Jenny Strange, 16, Orphan, Indentured Servant, and acting manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management has been assigned with perhaps the biggest (and strangest) task of her young life. 

In the Eye of Zoltar, the third installment of Jasper Fforde's Kazam Chronicles, The Mighty Shandar, greatest wizard of all times, is back--and he's got a vendetta against Jenny for unknowingly foiling his centuries-old evil plot to rid the world of any and all dragons. Shandar gives Jenny a deal: He will spare the lives of her two young dragon friends if Jenny retrieves for him the legendary Eye of Zoltar. The Eye is an egg-sized ruby of untold power that was supposedly last seen in the possession of the legendary Sky Pirate Wolff, who supposedly has a hideout within the legendary Sky Leviathan graveyard atop the mysterious mountain Cadir Idris, located at the heart of the deadly Cambrian empire. The odds are against her even before she begins her quest: Surviving the untold dangers of the Cambrian Empire are 50%...and the odds of returning alive from Cadir Idris are 0%. Furthermore, any unmagical person who touches the Eye (or even an unworthy magician) will be instantly transformed to lead. Yes, there are risks. But being a girl of considerable bravery and resourcefulness, Jenny accepts this challenge. She really has no choice.

Joined by wizard boyfriend Perkins, a princess in disguise, a rubber dragon (who is really a real live dragon), a rag-tag trio of adventure-seeking idiots, and a juvenile tour guide who is so hard-core she could scare the crap out of Chuck Norris, Jenny sets off on her impossible quest. What she learns while chasing legends is there is a reason for all the horror stories and secrets surrounding Cadir Idris. In fact, there is a reason for all the legends of the Cambrian Empire. Eventually, the ugly truth reveals itself: The Mighty Shandar's evil plot is to start the most vicious Troll War ever, and it seems the only one who can stop him and save the world as she knows it is the very non-magical Jenny. A cliffhanger ending promises a fantastic fourth installment in the (hopefully) very near future.

I can honestly say I haven't enjoyed a fantasy series this much since Harry Potter...and I think that, maybe, I like The Kazam Chronicles even more. The Eye of Zoltar makes an awesome addition to the first two installments of the series, The Last Dragonslayer (book 1) and The Song of the Quarkbeast (book 2). The Kazam Chronicles have it all: Adventure, humor, great characters, and an awesome storyline. If you haven't checked out these books yet...what are you waiting for?

Highly, highly recommended! --AJB

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