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Life, Law & Libros

The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde eARC (2 stars)

I loved The Last Dragonslayer, the first book in this series. It did so many things right and was a perfect beach read. I liked book 2, The Song of the Quarkbeast, though it didn't grab me the same way. Unfortunately, the downward trend has continued with The Eye of Zoltar. Despite the treacherous setting and a new set of characters to love and hate alongside some old favorites, it feels like filler.

This eARC was provided through Edelweiss for review. Some things may have changed in the final version.
The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde
Series: The Chronicles of Kazam
Genres: YA, Fantasy
Published on October 7, 2014
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers
Final Rating: 2 stars

Orphaned sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange runs Kazam, a Mystical Arts Management company that rents out wizards for cash. The Mighty Shandar tells Jennifer that if she finds a mysterious jewel named The Eye of Zoltar, he will spare the dragons he didn't manage to kill in Book One.

It is said the Eye was last seen around the neck of the really very legendary and not at all likely Sky Captain Morgan, who reputedly plunders jetliners from the back of the equally legendary and probably not real Leviathan, a kind of flying manta ray the size of a coach.

Meanwhile, the King and Queen of Snodd thinks that Jennifer, 'a young lady of considerable daring, moral worth and resourcefulness' should take over the tutelage of the hideous spoiled teenage Princess Shazzine, in order that she learns to rule with distinction once the King and Queen are gone.

Jennifer agrees with some reluctance, and together, she, trainee magician Perkins and the princess - cunningly and without any originality disguised as a handmaiden - cross into the neighbouring Cambrian Empire, a dangerous country strewn with peril and a focus for bored daredevils seeking perilous adventures as a form of Jeopardy Tourism.

After procuring a tour guide aged ten named Addie, they venture deep into the heart of the most dangerous place in the most dangerous place in the whole Ununited Kingdoms: The Empty Quarter, within which lies their goal: The legendary Leviathan's Graveyard, inconveniently perched at the very top of the mountain known as Cadir Idris, its lofty summit permanently shrouded in cloud.

Many people have visited the mountain, but none have returned. Perhaps the legend of Sky Pirate Morgan and the Leviathans are true - or perhaps the clouds that obscure the summit hide a far deeper secret. Pretty soon the Princess, Addie, Jennifer and Perkins are fighting the powers of darkness not just for their lives, but for everything they know and love...

What I Liked:
  • Addie- the pint-sized tour guide with a will of iron and mad sword skills. She's sometimes a little too capable; I would like to see a few more faults, but her practical, resourceful nature is similar to the MC, Jennifer's. :)
  • Even though he's only present for a couple scenes, I like Gabby. He's a mysterious, kind, quirky stranger whom I hope to see again.
  • People die. I know you're not supposed to like when characters die (though, honestly, I wasn't really attached to any of the deceased), but we're in the hot spot for Jeopardy Tourism. Everyone has at least a 50% chance of dying. It would be kind of disappointing if everyone lived.

What I Didn't Like:
  • The Eye of Zoltar feels like filler, a setup for the big events of the next book.
  • Despite the near constant danger (jeopardy tourism!), reading the book, I always felt like we were in the wrong place, watching the wrong string of events- like the important stuff was going on elsewhere without us (which kind of might be true).
  • Overall, this book seemed to take itself too seriously. Yes, the stakes are a little higher than the last two, but it lacks some of the the levity and lighter atmosphere of the first book.
  • The romance- There isn't much, but what little there is does not work for me at all.

Final Thoughts:
I really hope the next book pulls it together and brings back everything I loved about the first book. I love the crazy Ununited Kingdoms, but I want to be right in the middle of the important action with all the Kazam wizards and orphans we love again. If you haven't started the series, read book 1, The Last Dragonslayer. It works as a standalone and is a great fun, light read. If you just read book 1, hold off and see where the next book goes before committing to the series. If you read book 2, you might as well continue, but maybe wait until closer to the next book's release? 


  1. That is a horrid cover. Looks like a plastic godzilla sitting in a jeep.

    1. Haha, it kind of does! I think it's supposed to be the rubberized dragon, but the UK cover had a little more action and appeal in this case.

  2. Aw, I'm so sorry this series has turned out so disappointing! I had been excited about the idea of The Last Dragonslayer, but if the series doesn't continue well, then I don't think I'll want to invest my feelings into it D:

    1. I still have mildly high hopes that the next book will dive back into the real action and regain some of the lighter humor as well, but we'll see. In the meanwhile, I still think The Last Dragonslayer is worth reading as a standalone. :)