Cover image for The Eye of Zoltar
Title:
The Eye of Zoltar
Author:
Fforde, Jasper.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston ; New York : Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.
Physical Description:
405 pages ; 22 cm.
Summary:
Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange faces the impossible when the mighty Shandar emerges from his preserved state and presents her with a task that sends her and her companions on a journey from which they may never return.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
920 Lexile.
Genre:
ISBN:
9780547738499
Format :
Book

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On Order

Summary

Summary

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?


Author Notes

He worked for many years in the film industry as a camera technician. He was raised in England, he lives & works in Wales.

(Publisher Provided) Author Jasper Fforde was born on January 11, 1961 in London, England.

He spent numerous years as a focus puller in the film industry, where he worked on films such as Quills, Golden Eye, and Entrapment. His first novel, The Eyre Affair, was published in 2001. He is the author of the Thursday Next, Nursery Crime and Dragonslayer series and the novel Shades of Gray.

In 2004, he won the Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction for The Well of Lost Plots. In 2013, his title The Last Dragonslayer made The New York Times best seller list.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 2

Booklist Review

What starts out as an ordinary day for Jenny Strange, manager of Kazam Magical Arts and official Court Mystician, turns into a desperate journey when she travels into the neighboring Cambrian Empire to locate the Eye of Zoltar, a goose-egg-sized ruby. It is a dangerous assignment, and she is aided by her colleague (and date), the Wizard Perkins, a rubber dragon, and the Crown Princess of Snodd, who has been transferred into the body of a Royal Dog Mess Removal Operative by her mother as a lesson in humility. Fforde peoples this third installment of the Chronicles of Kazam with his signature wacky eccentrics, and the plot is wildly entertaining and a bit easier to follow than The Song of the Quarkbeast (2013). Throughout, the snark quotient is high, encompassing everything from financial speculations on princess and goat futures to a devotional visit to the Patron Saint of Fading Relevance. Fans will laugh all the way to the last page and will be happy to hear there is more absurdity to come.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: The Chronicles of Kazam titles are worldwide best-sellers, and the blockbuster marketing plan for this latest installment will only fan the flames.--Rutan, Lynn Copyright 2014 Booklist


School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Jennifer Strange, 16, is pretty busy these days, as manager of Kazam Mystical Arts Management and Court Mystician for the Kingdom of Snodd. Still, she can't say no when the queen "asks" that she take on the challenge of transforming the obnoxious and spoiled princess (who is switched into the body of a downtrodden orphan by her mother when she refuses to cooperate) into a functional and empathetic leader. Then Jennifer is blackmailed by the most powerful magician ever into a search (not a quest, which is far more expensive) for the almost completely legendary Eye of Zoltar, last seen in the dangerously unbalanced Cambrian Empire, where kidnapping and jeopardy tourism are the main sources of revenue. The odds are definitely not in her favor on this perilous journey with the young but extremely resourceful tour guide, Addie; a rubberized dragon; her rapidly aging beau, Perkins; a vain princess turned undernourished orphan; and mysterious heroes and wastrels of various sorts. The ever-resourceful Jennifer must reach deep into her bag of mental and emotional reserves to battle strange magic and survive terrible loss. This installment is darker than the first two outings and contains a Grand Canyon-sized cliff-hanger of an ending. Fans of strong, brave, intelligent females will root for Jennifer and her gang, and wait impatiently for the next book.-Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

one Where We Are Now The first thing we had to do was catch the Tralfamosaur. The obvious question, other than "What's a Tralfamosaur?" was "Why us?" The answer to the first question was that this was a magical beast, created by some long-forgotten wizard when conjuring up weird and exotic creatures had been briefly fashionable. The Tralfamosaur is about the size and weight of an elephant, has a brain no bigger than a Ping-Pong ball, and can outrun a human. More relevant to anyone trying to catch one, Tralfamosaurs aren't particularly fussy about what they eat. And when they are hungry--which is much of the time--they are even less fussy. A sheep, cow, rubber tire, garden shed, antelope, smallish automobile, or human would go down equally well. In short, the Tralfamosaur is a lot like a Tyrannosaurus rex, but without the sunny disposition. And we had to capture it. Oh, and the answer to the "Why us?" question was that it was our fault the rotten thing had escaped. In case you're new to my life, I'm sixteen, a girl, and an orphan--hey, no biggie; lots of kids don't have parents here in the Ununited Kingdoms, because so many people have been lost in the endless Troll Wars these past sixty years. With lots of orphans around, there's plenty of cheap labor. I got lucky. Instead of being sold into the garment, fast food, or hotel industry, I get to spend my six years of indentured servitude at Kazam Mystical Arts Management, a registered House of Enchantment run by the Great Zambini. Kazam does what all Houses of Enchantment used to do: rent out wizards to perform magical feats. The problem is that in the past half century, magic has faded, so we are really down to finding lost shoes, rewiring houses, unblocking drains, and getting cats out of trees. It's a bit demeaning for the once-mighty sorcerers who work for us, but at least it's paid work. At Kazam I found out that magic has not much to do with black cats, cauldrons, wands, pointy hats, and broomsticks. No, those are only in the movies. Real magic is weird and mysterious, a fusion between science and faith. The practical way of looking at it is this: Magic swirls about us like an invisible fog of emotional energy that can be tapped by those skilled in the mystical arts, and then channeled into a concentrated burst of energy from the tips of the index fingers. The technical name for magic is variable electro-gravitational mutable subatomic force, but the usual term is wizidrical energy, or, simply, crackle. So there I was, assistant to the Great Zambini, learning well and working hard, when Zambini disappeared, quite literally, in a puff of smoke. He didn't return, or at least not for anything but a few minutes at a time and often in random locations, so I took over the running of the company at age fifteen. Okay, that was a biggie, but I coped and, long story short, I saved dragons from extinction, averted war between the nations of Snodd and Brecon, and helped the power of magic begin to reestablish itself. And that's when the trouble really started. King Snodd thought using the power of magic for corporate profit would be a seriously good scam, something we at Kazam weren't that happy about. Even longer story short, we held a magic contest to decide who controls magic, and after a lot of cheating by the king to try to make us lose, he failed--and we are now a House of Enchantment free from royal meddling and can concentrate on rebuilding magic into a noble craft. I now manage forty-five barely sane sorcerers at Kazam, only eight of whom have a legal permit to perform magic. If you think wizards are all wise purveyors of the mystical arts and have sparkling wizidrical energy streaming from their fingertips, think again. They are for the most part undisciplined, infantile, argumentative, and infuriating; their magic only works when they really concentrate, which isn't that often, and misspellings are common. But when it works, a well-spelled feat of magic is the most wondrous thing to behold, like your favorite book, painting, music, and movie all at the same time, with chocolate and a meaningful hug from someone you love thrown in for good measure. So despite everything, it's a good business in which to work. Besides, there's rarely a dull moment. So that's me. I have an orphaned assistant named Tiger Prawns, I am now Dragon Ambassador to the World, and I have a pet Quarkbeast at least nine times as frightening as the most frightening thing you've ever seen. My name is Jennifer Strange. Welcome to my world. Now, let's find that Tralfamosaur. two Zambini Towers Those forty-five sorcerers, Tiger, and I all lived in a large, eleven-story, ornate ex-hotel called Zambini Towers. It was in a bad state of repair, and even though we had some spare magic to restore it to glory, we had decided we wouldn't, other than expanding the Kazam offices after business picked up. There was a certain charm about the faded wallpaper, warped wood, missing windowpanes, and leaky roof. Some argued that the surroundings were peculiarly suitable for the Mystical Arts, others argued that the place was a fetid dump suitable only for demolition, and I sat somewhere between the two. When the call came in, Perkins and I were in the shabby, wood-paneled lobby. "There's a Tralfamosaur loose somewhere between here and Ross," said Tiger, waving a report forwarded by the police. "Anyone eaten?" I asked. "All of two railroad workers and part of a fisherman." Tiger was twelve and, like me, a foundling. He was stuck at Kazam for four years and after that could apply for citizenship or earn it fighting in the next Troll War, which probably wouldn't be far off. Troll Wars were like Batman movies: both were repeated at regular intervals, featured expensive hardware, and were broadly predictable. The difference was that during the Troll Wars, humans always lost--and badly. In Troll War IV, eight years ago, sixty thousand troops were lost before General Snood had even finished giving the order to advance. The final death toll was six times higher. "Three eaten already?" I said. "We need to get Big T back to the zoo before he gets hungry again." "How long will that be?" asked Tiger, who was small in stature but big on questions. I swiftly estimated how much calorific value there was in a railway worker, matched that to what I knew of a Tralfamosaur's metabolism, and added a rough guess of how much of the fisherman had been consumed. "Three hours," I said. "Four, tops. Which sorcerers are on duty right now?" Tiger consulted his clipboard. "Lady Mawgon and the Wizard Moobin." "I'll help out," said Perkins. He smiled and added, "As long as I'm not eaten." I told him I couldn't really offer many guarantees as far as Tralfamosaurs were concerned. "Still in?" I asked. "Why not?" he said with a chuckle. "I haven't been terrified for--ooh--at least a couple of days." Perkins was Kazam's youngest and newest legal sorcerer, licensed for less than a week. He was eighteen and, while not yet very powerful, showed good promise; most sorcerers didn't start doing any really useful magic until their thirties. Perkins and I had been about to go on our first date when the Tralfamosaur call came in, but that would have to wait. "Okay," I said to Tiger. "Fetch Mawgon and Moobin, and you should also call Once Magnificent Boo." "Got it," said Tiger. I turned to Perkins. "Okay if we go on that date later? You know how it is in the magic industry: spell first, fun second." "I kind of figured that," he replied, "so why don't we make this assignment the date? I could bring some food and a thermos of hot chocolate." Considering that neither of us had any experience in romance whatsoever, a working date would surely be easier than an actual date. "Okay," I said, "you're on. But no dressing up, and we split the cost." "Game on. I'll go and make sandwiches and conjure up that thermos."While I waited for the other sorcerers to arrive, I read what I could about Tralfamosaurs in the Codex Magicalis, which wasn't much. The creature had been created magically in the 1780s on the order of the Cambrian Empire's Emperor Tharv I, because he wanted "a challenging beast to hunt for sport," a role it played with all due savagery. Two hundred years later, people still pay good money to try to hunt them, usually with fatal consequences for the hunter. Oddly, this made Tralfamosaur hunting more popular; it seemed that citizens were becoming increasingly fond of danger in these modern, safety-conscious times. The Cambrian Empire now made good money out of what it called jeopardy tourism: vacations for those seeking life-threatening situations. The first to arrive in the lobby was Wizard Moobin, who, unlike all the other sorcerers, was barely insane at all. Aside from his usual magical duties, he worked in magic research and development. Last month, Moobin's team had been working on spells for turning oneself temporarily to rubber to survive a fall, as well as a method of reliable communication using snails. He was good company, aged a little over forty, and was at least polite and gave me due respect for my efforts. "The Tralfamosaur escaped," I told him. "When you and Patrick surged this afternoon during the bridge rebuilding, two quarter-ton blocks of stone were catapulted into the sky." "I wondered what had happened to them," said Moobin thoughtfully. "One fell to earth in an orchard near Belmont, and the other landed on the Ross-to-Hereford branch line, derailing a train that was transporting the Tralfamosaur to Woburn Safari Park for some sort of dangerous animal exchange deal." "Ah," said Moobin, "so we're kind of responsible for this, aren't we?" "I'm afraid so," I replied, "and it's already eaten three people." "Whoops," said Moobin. "Whoops nothing," said Lady Mawgon, who had arrived with Tiger close behind. "Civilians have to take their risks with the rest of us." Unlike Moobin, Lady Mawgon was not our favorite sorcerer but was undeniably good at what she did. She had been the official sorcerer of the Kingdom of Kent before the downturn of magical power, and her fall from that lofty status had made her frosty and ill-tempered. She had recently turned seventy, scowled constantly, and had the unsettling habit of gliding everywhere, as though she wore roller skates beneath the folds of her large black dress. "Even so," I said diplomatically, "it's probably not a good idea to let the Tralfamosaur eat people." "I suppose not," conceded Lady Mawgon. "What about Once Magnificent Boo?" "Already in hand," I replied, indicating to where Tiger was speaking on the phone. Once Magnificent Boo had, as her name suggested, once been magnificent. She could have been as powerful as the Mighty Shandar himself, but was long retired and saddled with a dark personality that made Lady Mawgon seem almost sunny. The reason was simple: Boo had been robbed of her dazzling career in sorcery by the removal of her index fingers, the conduit of a sorcerer's power. Lost for over three decades, the fingers had been recently recovered by us--but even when Boo was reunited with the dry bones, the only magic she could do was wayward and unfocused. These days she studied Quarkbeasts and was the world's leading authority on Tralfamosaurs, which was the reason we needed her. "She'll meet you there," said Tiger, replacing the receiver. "I'll stay here and man the phones in case you need anything sent over." Once Perkins had returned with the sandwiches, we trooped outside to my Volkswagen Beetle. There were better cars in the basement at Zambini Towers, but the VW had huge sentimental value: I had been found wrapped in a blanket on the back seat outside the Ladies of the Lobster orphanage one windswept night sixteen years earlier. There was a note stuffed under one windshield wiper: Please look after this poor dear child, as her parents died in the Troll Wars. PS: I think the engine may need some oil and the tire pressure checked. PPS: We think her name should be Jennifer. PPPS: The child, not the car. PPPPS: For her surname, choose something strange. The car had been kept--all items found with a foundling were, by royal decree--and was presented to me when the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster sold me to Kazam. After checking the tire pressure and adding some oil, the engine had started the first time, and I drove to my first job in my own car. If you think fourteen is too young to start driving, think again. The Kingdom of Snodd grants driver's licenses on the basis of responsibility, not age, which can frustrate forty-something guys no end when they fail their responsibility test for the umpteenth time. "Shotgun!" yelled Lady Mawgon as she plunked herself in the passenger seat. Everyone groaned. Being in the back of the Volkswagen meant sitting next to the Quarkbeast, a creature often described as a cross between a Labrador and an open knife drawer, with a bit of velociraptor and scaly pangolin thrown in for good measure. Despite its terrifying appearance and an odd habit of eating metal, the Quarkbeast was a loyal and intelligent companion. "Right," I said as we drove off, "does anyone have a plan for how we're going to recapture the Tralfamosaur?" There was silence. "How about this," I said. "We modify our plans with regard to ongoing facts as they become known to us, then re-modify them as the situation unfolds." "You mean make it all up as we go along?" asked Perkins. "Right." "It's worked before," said Lady Mawgon. "Many times," replied Moobin. "Quark," said the Quarkbeast. Excerpted from The Eye of Zoltar by Jasper Fforde All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.