Book Recommendation: The Eye of Zoltar

Dragon in a jeep. You know you’re reading a Fforde novel.

If you are a stranger to Jasper Fforde’s madcap imagination, here are some things you should know:

  1. Never drink carbonated beverages while reading. It tends to burn when it comes back up your nose.
  2. Do some crunches before reading. It decreases the likeliness of pulling a muscle from giggling.
  3. Wear gloves. Papercuts from turning pages too fast hurt.
  4. Barricade yourself into a room alone. Or, keep all rocket launchers and broadswords locked up far away. Or, you know, just warn people not to interrupt you.

Follow these rules, and you might survive his latest novel in The Chronicles of Kazam.

Adventurer, beware. Here’s what The Eye of Zoltar is about:

Although she’s an orphan in indentured servitude, sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange is pretty good at her job of managing the unpredictable crew at Kazam Mystical Arts Management. She already solved the Dragon Problem, avoided mass destruction by Quarkbeast, and helped save magic in the Ununited Kingdoms. Yet even Jennifer may be defeated when the long-absent Mighty Shandar makes an astonishing appearance and commands her to find the Eye of Zoltar—proclaiming that if she fails, he will eliminate the only two dragons left on earth.

How can a teenage non-magician outdo the greatest sorcerer the world has ever known? But failure is unacceptable, so Jennifer must set off for the mysterious Cadir Idris in the deadly Cambrian Empire—a destination with a fatality index of fifty percent. With the odds against them, will Jennifer and her traveling companions ever return to the Kingdom of Snodd?

What Intrigued Me: Have I mentioned I’m a big Jasper Fforde fan? Having read the first two books in The Chronicles of Kazam series, I knew that the only thing to expect is the unexpected. What’s great about the series is that the plots of the first two books are unique, entertaining adventures. “Formulaic” is not a word you would ever use to describe them. “Formulaic” isn’t even in their lexicon. Ditto “predictable”.

What Hooked Me: Spoiled, self-centered Princess Shazza. Firstly: her name, Shazza. There should be more Shazzas in the world. Secondly: she’s under a body-switching spell to learn humility, something I wish was a real thing. Thirdly: she’s been placed under Jennifer’s tutelage. Which is fun times for all.

Also of note: the dragon Colin returns from his goodwill tour and sabbatical reading the entire Library of Congress to play a larger role in this book. And he is wonderful.

What Made Me Fall In Love: Writing comedy might be one of the most difficult things in the world. What’s funny is subjective, and it’s So. Incredibly. Difficult. Which, sadly, I know from experience (my past, it haunts me).

So it’s really a statement to Fforde’s genius and skill that he makes me laugh every damn time. And not sporadic, soft chuckles. Like, gut-busting silly giggles every page laughing. His manic Monty Python-esque humor is clever and silly and just damn funny, no matter who you are.

Aren’t we all?

The Eye of Zoltar is available from Amazon and your local questing supply shop (a.k.a. bookstore). Pick one up and go on an adventure!


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