The Eye of Zoltar – Jasper Fforde

The Eye of Zoltar


Jennifer Strange, teenaged manager of Kazam Mystical Arts, has made a deal with the elusive wizard Shandar. It may save the few remaining dragons, but it means going into the always dangerous Cambrian Empire to find the mythical Eye of Zoltar - a task with a fatality index of at least 50%.  


The Eye of Zoltar is a worthy sequel in the Dragonslayer series. While the previous book had an odd wrap-up epilogue, this one largely proceeds as if it had never happened, and carefully sets the stage for what’s slated to be the fourth and final book in the series – which is still going strong, but I hope Fforde learned some lessons from the over-stretched Thursday Next series, and will stop while he’s ahead.

This book takes Jennifer Strange out of the Kingdom of Snodd and into the neighbouring Cambrian Empire for fun, profit, and a lot of death-defying – in keeping with the realm’s economic basis – jeopardy tourism. Broadly, it all works well, and maintains the series’ tone and humor. One the latter point, though, Fforde is often evidently trying too hard – the main story line is fine, but he reaches often and too far to make jokes that don’t need to be made, and that don’t contribute to the story. They’re forced, and they feel forced. He also repeats many of the jokes from the first two books. It’s unfortunate, because there’s plenty of humor in the story and characters already. It’s part of why I hope the series stops at four books; if this went on, I could see it becoming more and more Xanth-like – where puns, rather than leavening the story, become the only purpose for the story. Jennifer and co are endearing enough characters that they deserve better than merely being a joke delivery mechanism.

All in all, a fun sequel in a fun series.

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