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Literature / The Last Dragonslayer

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Left: First Edition Hardcover
Right: Poster for the Film Adaptation

The Last Dragonslayer (marketed as "The Chronicles of Kazam" in the US) is an Urban Fantasy young adult series by Jasper Fforde, following the adventures of the teenage Jennifer Strange as she navigates a world where modern technology and traditional magic live side by side in the UnUnited Kingdom.

Protagonist Jennifer Strange is a fifteen year-old orphan, indentured servant, and acting manager of Kazam: an employment agency for soothsayers and sorcerers struggling to make a living in a world where the magic is gradually ebbing away. Jennifer has no magic herself, but she makes do shepherding her batty wizidrical colleagues through the challenges of everyday life with a combination of tenacity, street-smarts, and an unflagging moral core. She would consider her life pretty normal, at least until a prophecy concerning the death of the last living dragon in the UnUnited Kingdom upends her world and sets her on a path towards confronting the powers that be. Jennifer will have to use every ounce of her courage and grit to save not only herself, but also her friends at Kazam, the Kingdom of Hereford, the UnUnited Kingdom, and the very magic that underpins her world.

Books in the series:

  • The Last Dragonslayer (2010): In which Jennifer Strange and her colleagues at Kazam are introduced, magic is on the decline, and the prophesized death of the last dragon heralds legendary Big Magic that might just change the world.
  • The Song of the Quarkbeast (2011): Magic is (slowly) returning to the world, so naturally King Snodd IV wants to consolidate all sorcerers in the kingdom under his direct control. Kazam's rivals at iMagic want to take over the company. Jennifer and Kazam vow to prevent either of those outcomes from happening, even if they have to win an obviously rigged competition (while simultaneously trying to stop the magical Quarkbeasts from inadvertently blowing up half the kingdom) to do it.
  • The Eye of Zoltar (2014): In order to save the dragons from the wrath of Shandar, Jennifer goes on what is emphatically not a quest in the Cambrian Empire. She learns a thing or two about Jeopardy Tourism, rescues a princess, and discovers the secrets of the Leviathan's Graveyard.
  • The Great Troll War (2021): A ragtag band of resistance fighters, led by Jennifer Strange, hold out against the Troll invaders who have swept through the UnUnited Kingdom. An evil mastermind is plotting a dastardly plan, and all seems hopeless. Or is it?

Author Fforde's website has a section dedicated to the series available here where extra information on all four books and the world of The Last Dragonslayer can be found. It includes a helpful map, a list of characters (last updated with the 2nd book's publishing), and a combination glossary/ bestiary that's worth a gander.

The first novel was adapted for television by Sky One and broadcast on Christmas Day 2016.

The Last Dragonslayer Contains Examples Of:

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    Tropes Throughout the Book Series 
  • Aerith and Bob: "My name is Feldspar Axiom Firebreath IV, and this is Colin."
  • Balkanize Me: Exaggerated: the Ununited Kingdom is comprised of over two dozen separate political entities note .
  • Blind Seer: Mother Zenobia is blind, and she occasionally has visions of both present and future events. She wasn't surprised when Jennifer dropped by unannounced because she'd had a vision that Jennifer's orange car would appear.
  • Bug War: The Ununited Kingdom is in a constant state of war with the Trolls of Trollvania. This is believed to be why Jennifer and Tiger are foundlings.
  • Cast from Calories: On an industrial scale! Much of the Ununited Kingdom is powered by marzipan, which in the world of "The Last Dragonslayer" is dug out of the ground the way coal is in the real world. After mining, the marzipan is refined into "Almondoleum" in industrial plants.
  • Cool Car: Instead of a horse, the current Dragonslayer now has a Slayermobile, a Rolls Royce armored car with sirens, emergency vehicle lights, weapon racks for sword and lance, and the whole studded all over with copper spikes to make it unpalatable to dragons. The Slayermobile gets most of it's screentime in "The Last Dragonslayer." As of "The Song of the Quarkbeast," it's parked in the garage beneath Kazam.
  • Dad the Veteran: Both Downplayed and taken to the Logical Extreme — there's a massive amount of orphans in the Ununited Kingdoms because of all the parents that die in the Troll Wars. So many orphans that entire segments of the economy are propped up on subsidized labor provided by indentured orphan servants. The orphans themselves don't spend overmuch time thinking about their deceased parents.
    • Jennifer was left in an orange Volkswagen Beetle outside the orphanage with a note informing the staff that her parents had died in the Troll Wars. Subverted in the very last chapter of the last book, where it is revealed that Jennifer's parents are alive and well. The story about her parents dying in the Troll Wars was made up by Zambini and Mother Zenobia.
    • Tiger knows one of his parents probably served in the Troll Wars because he was left at the orphanage alongside a Fourth Troll Wars campaign medal with a Valour Clasp. Mother Zenobia has told Jennifer the rest of the details, and expects Jennifer to tell Tiger when he asks for the full story. Tiger's parents were a husband-and-wife engineering team on a landship that vanished during the war. Horrifyingly, Tiger would have been lost (and likely eaten by trolls) with his parents if the childcare facilities had not been removed from the landships in order to make room for extra munitions. Instead, he ended up an orphan in the care of the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster.
  • Egopolis: Downplayed in that the current King Snodd is the 4th of his name to rule since the dynasty began in 1867, so he's had several generations of monarchs behind him who have named things after themselves. He lives in Snodd Castle, and most streets in his capital are called "Snodd Boulevard" or "Snodd Avenue" or somesuch. But the current monarch continues the trend of naming things after himself: he franchises a chain of cheap Snoddco's Superstores, owns Snodd Heavy Industries, and he suggests combining iMagic and Kazam into a single entity called "Snodd Magic PLC."
  • Extreme Omnivore: The Quarkbeast appears to be able to eat anything except a half-inch of titanium. Its diet consists mainly of meat and metal — two cans of dog food (still in the can) are its preferred breakfast. Jennifer's Quarkbeast is particularly fond of metals like chrome, zinc, and pewter.
  • Fantastic Drug: Zigzagged and overlaps with I Can't Believe It's Not Heroin! and G-Rated Drug. "Marzipan addiction" is treated similarly to alcoholism or the usage of narcotics. But Marzipan is also a natural resource dug out of the ground (like coal or natural gasses) and used to power much of the Ununited Kingdom after it's been refined into Almondoleum.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: Magical power is measured in "shandars," so-called after the famous wizard Shandar. Devices called "Shandarmeters" can measure the amount of shandars certain acts of magic take to cast, and devices called "shandargraphs" can measure background levels and usage of magical powers in the local area. All children have their power measured to test for magical aptitude, with the national average at about 150 shandars. Protagonist Jennifer rated at 159.3 shandars, while Tiger reached 162.8. It takes about 200 shandars to make a toad burp, and 1000 shandars to boil an egg.
  • Fictional Currency: Units of currency used in the Ununited Kingdom include the spondoolip, dollop, acker, plotnik, half-moolah, moolah, and golden moolarine. King Snodd also issues "coin vouchers" to his subjects, which are redeemable only at Snoddco's substandard superstores.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Jennifer and Tiger are both parentless foundlings stripped of the rights of citizens, raised in an Orphanage of Fear, and forced into indentured servitude when they reached their teen years. All their fellow foundlings are in the same boat, having no rights to citizenship and being rented out as indentured servants until they turn 18 (at which point they can begin the years-long process of petitioning for their rights). Some (like Laura Scrubb) wind up as lowly palace servants, some (like Jennifer and Tiger) become personal assistants to relatively kind and competent people, and others are bought up en masse and shipped off to the ConStuff factories to work in their cheap goods sweatshops. Far from being brooding or resentful over their circumstances, Jennifer and Tiger seem to accept their lot in life with a kind of tired resignation, treating their upbringing as something that made them tougher and more mature than their civilian peers.
  • Informed Ability: Jennifer is 16, but apart from a minor romantic subplot she could as well be 30 or 50.
  • Magic Carpet: Kazam has two carpeteers on staff: Prince Omar Smith Arkwright Ben Nasil (second in line to the Duchy of Portland) and Owen of Rhayder. They've been relegated to non-passenger work like delivering pizzas and transporting live organs for donation after a terrible accident 30-some years ago, when a carpeteer named Brother Velobius and his two passengers died when the Turkmen Mk18-C Bukhara carpet they were flying on broke up in midair.
  • The Magic Goes Away/The Magic Comes Back: The magic level was once much higher but it's bottomed out and is slowly returning.
  • Magitek: Magical parallels for microwave ovens, radar, the phone system and medical scanners are all mentioned. Unfortunately none of these work any more due to the low mana level.
  • Metal Muncher: Quark Beasts are able to eat anything except a solid half-inch of titanium, and their preferred diet consists mainly of meat and metal. Jennifer's Quark Beast favors the tastes of chrome, zinc, and pewter.
  • Only Sane Employee: Jennifer, the 15-year-old (16 as of "The Song of the Quarkbeast") indentured servant who runs Kazam. Most of the employees of the agency are old, curmudgeonly, slightly batty from too much magic, or all of the above: without a manager, they'd hardly be able to tie their shoes in the morning, much less earn a living. As the acting manager, Jennifer is in charge of answering the phones at the agency, booking jobs, renewing contracts, managing personnel, chauffeuring the talent to their jobs, and filling out all the paperwork and forms that keeps her employees from literally being burned at the stake. Horton "Tiger" Prawns is in training to become her replacement.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Jennifer's orange '58 Volkswagen Beetle, in which she was left as a baby outside the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster. She mentions it's not uncommon for children to be left at the orphanage with sentimental tokens from their parents, and she treasures the beetle because it's the only clue she has to the identity of her parents.
  • Orphanage of Fear: Played for Laughs - the orphanage where Jennifer and Tiger were raised, run by the Convent of the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster, is housed in a dreary medieval castle next to a firing range/ military installation where the Armed Forces of Hereford routinely shoot live munitions across the border into the Duchy of Brecon. The foundlings live a life of deprivation, eating gruel that is somehow thinner than water and lacking basic necessities like bedding and changes of clothing. It sounds horrific, but Jennifer and Tiger both treat it as a Hilariously Abusive Childhood that made them tough and resourceful.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons here are intelligent, erudite creatures with an unfortunate habit of torching villages and eating people. They also have quasi-magical gems in their foreheads.
  • Parental Abandonment: There are massive quantities of "foundlings" left at orphanages around the UnUnited Kingdom, many of them orphans of the Troll Wars. These foundlings don't have full citizenship rights, are often sold on contract as indentured servants to businesses (it's mentioned that ConStuff owns a chain of islands off east Trollvania where they use cheap foundling labor to produce cheap goods cheaper than anyone else in the cheap goods market). Jennifer was left at the doorstep of the Convent of the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster in an orange Volkswagen, and Tiger was left in a basket with a war medal pinned to the side.
  • Parental Substitute: Mr. Zambini is the closest thing Jennifer has to a father-figure, and everything she's done to keep Kazam running since his disappearance has been to make him proud.
  • Pok√©mon Speak: All Quarkbeast "dialogue" is rendered as "Quark!"
  • Power Levels: A wizard's power is reflected by their status and accolade, both of which can change if/when the magic user's powers wax or wane. There's no official governing body that issues statuses or accolades to the wizards of the Ununited Kingdom and beyond. The very idea of wizards having a governing body is "wholly ridiculous once you get to know how scatty they can be," but practitioners of the magical arts are honorbound to a fault — so titles that reflect their relative levels of wizidrical power and reliability are all self-conferred.
    • Statuses are pretty straightforward: at the lowest level is Spellmanager, followed by Sorcerer, Master Sorcerer, Grand Master Sorcerer, and Super Grand Master Sorcerer.
      "An accolade isn't simply based on performance, but on reliability. Wizard Moobin isn't the most powerful in the building, but he's the most consistent. And to complicate matters further, a status is different to an accolade. Two wizards might both be status Spellmanager but if one has turned a goat into a moped and the other hasn't, then they get to call themselves 'Wizard.'"
    • Accolades include, in no particular order, "Lady", "Wizard", "Venerable", "Amazing", "Astonishing", "Incredible", "Magnificent", "Mighty", "All-Powerful", and "Pointless". Miss Boolean Smith goes by the honorary title "The Once Magnificent," in recognition of her previous status as one of the most powerful and consistent spellcasters of her era.
    • Seers like Kevin Zipp, Randolph the 14th Earl of Pembridge, and Sage O'Neons appear to have their own set of accolades, including "Inconsistent", "Remarkable", and "Blistering."
  • Schizo Tech: It seems that nearly everything runs on magic, from mobile phone networks to GPS to medical scanners, and all those technologies had to be "turned off" as magic started to disappear. Landlines are purely mechanical though, and cars run on purified marzipan. But even then, unexpected items like yo-yos, bicycles, and north-pointing compasses are said to be run on spell code so ancient that no-one has ever been able to figure out how to "turn them off."
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In The Last Dragonslayer, Tiger tells Jennifer that he'd been left at the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster's doorstep in a basket (with a war medal and a train ticket left alongside him). In The Song of the Quarkbeast, he says he was left at the convent in a red rolling suitcase.
    • The number of foundlings at the convent seems to fluctuate. In The Last Dragonslayer, Jennifer says that Mother Zenobia "had hundreds of foundlings ready to take up servitude" - and that number would only have included those of working age, presumably older than 10 or 12. In The Song of the Quarkbeast, Jennifer mentions that she had to fight "all forty" other girls at the convent to use the single handkerchief, while in The Eye of Zoltar she mentions sleeping in a dormitory with "sixty other girls" (and in The Great Troll War that number is quoted as "forty" other girls). Later she says that Tiger still hasn't acclimated to having his own room after spending his whole life sleeping in a dormitory with "eighty other boys."
    • The circumstances under which Shandar created the Quarkbeasts are given three contending explanations across the series:
      • In Book 1, it's said that when Shandar built his palace he included a zoo with magically-created animals no one had ever seen before, and this is how the Quarkbeast came to be. Mother Zenobia helpfully gives the date of June 1591 for the creation of the castle, zoo, and Quarkbeasts.
      • In Book 2, Jennifer states that the Mighty Shandar created Quarkbeasts to win a bet in 1783.
      • In Book 4, Jennifer claims Shandar spelled up the Quarkbeast at the 1592 "Wizard of the Year" awards to win the "Most Terrifying Beast" prize.
    • Sir Matt Grifflon's latest hit single in Book 1 is titled 'A Horse, a Sword, and Me', but in Book 4 Jennifer says it was 'A horse, a song and me."
    • In the first two books, the highly addictive Fantastic Drug/ national power source marzipan is said to be mined out of the ground (much like petroleum or coal) before being refined into almondoleum. In "The Eye of Zoltar," Jennifer drives through a grove of almond trees in the Cambrian Empire which are said to be the source of marzoleum.
      "The fields we drove past contained cultivated almond tree groves, from which refined marzoleum was derived; the syrupy oil was used for fondant icing, sunblock, window putty, aviation spirit, and pretty much anything in between.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Spells are written in lines of code, much the same way computer programs are. "RUNIX" is one such spell language, a shout-out to Unix. Other spell languages include "ARAMAIC" and "SIMSALLABIM"
    • "Industrial Magic", Kazam's competing agency, is probably a shout-out to "Industrial Lighting & Magic", the visual effects company founded by George Lucas in 1975. In "The Song of the Quarkbeast", they change their name to iMagic.
  • Tank Goodness: Exaggerated with King Snodd IV's "landships": five story-high, diesel-powered siege engines on treads. Averted in that for all their destructive capability, they're not terribly effective.
  • Theme Twin Naming: David and Dennis Price, who are on record as the "least identical twins," also go by the names Half and Full Price. David is "tall and thin and would sway in a high wind", while Dennis is "short and squat like a giant pink pumpkin."
  • Traveling Landmass: The Isle of Wight has two massive rudders and engines that propel it through the Atlantic Ocean. Every winter it sails down between the Canary Islands and the Azores to avoid the chill.
  • Unstuck in Time: The Great Zambini either bungled a disappearing-and-reappearing spell while performing at a child's birthday party, or was sabotaged by the Wizard Shandar. Either way, he's "rattling around the Now like a Ping-Pong ball," reappearing in random locations across the Ununited Kingdom for anywhere from a couple seconds to a couple minutes. Jennifer and the rest of the Kazam employees are keen to get him back
  • Utility Magic: Due to a combination of magic becoming less powerful than it once was and increasingly regulated in the UnUnited Kingdom, witches and wizards like the ones at Kazam are forced to apply their abilities to menial tasks in order to keep the lights on:
    • The carpeteers deliver pizzas (or live organs for transplant on a good day), ever since they were banned from transporting passengers after an accident 30-odd years ago that resulted in a carpeteer and his two passengers falling to their deaths.
    • The powerful telekinetic "Mover" Patrick of Ludlow is on contract to remove illegally parked cars for the city.
    • Brother Gillingrex of Woodseaves can speak the language(s) of birds, and he's often hired to help birdwatchers when they put tracking bands on migrating birds.
    • Randolph the 14th Earl of Pembridge is a precog and an "industrial prophet," who works predicting the failure rates of industrial welding. Kevin Zipp was recently hired by flower nurseries to predict the colors of blooms in ungerminated bulbs.
    • Kazam held a contract to unblock the city's drains (at least they did, until the King's Useless Brother purchased shares in a company that produces chemical drain cleaner Blok-U-Gon).
    • Mr. Zambini (and Jennifer, now that Zambini is indisposed) have been trying to get Kazam into the home improvement market by offering to magically rewire houses or replace plumbing fixtures.
      It had been Mr. Zambini's idea to move Kazam into the home improvement market. Charming moles out of gardens, resizing stuff for the self-storage industry, and finding lost things was easy work, but it didn't pay well. Using magic to rewire a house, however, was quite different. Unlike electricians, we didn't need to touch the house in order to do it. No mess, no problems, and all finished in under a day.

    Tropes in the Film Adaptation 
  • Actionized Adaptation: Downplayed, but the film adaptation adds a fraught battle between Jennifer and an assassin at the Dragonslayer HQ, and later a car chase between Jennifer and some of King Snodd's landships — neither of which existed in the source material.
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: When Jennifer asks if she knows Gordon (who is applying for the position of assistant Dragonslayer), he reveals that he was also a ward of the orphanage where Jennifer and Tiger were raised (specifically, the one Mr. Brittles roused to ask who ate the cakes). Gordon tells Jennifer he was taken into indentured servitude at StuffCo and that the president took him under her wing, just like how Mr. Zambini took Jennifer under his wing. While Gordon was a fellow orphan in the film, it's unclear how much of his story about being taken under the StuffCo president's wing was true or was a lie to get Jennifer to let her guard down. In the books, Gordon was a middle aged man who claimed no prior connection to Jennifer — he merely showed up at the Dragon Station with impeccable credentials and was hired on the spot.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In the film, Sir Matt Grifflon wants to usurp King Snodd. He views the position of Dragonslayer as a stepping stone to taking over the kingdom, whereas in the book he was just the King's right hand man.
  • Adapted Out: The sub-plot about Jennifer's status as a berserker is left out of the film.
  • Age Lift:
    • In the book, penultimate Dragonslayer Brian Spalding is described as an elderly man, looking about 90 and still in good health despite being 150 years old (at least before he succumbs to Rapid Aging after appointing Jennifer his successor). In the film, Dragonslayer Brian is played by a fresh-faced Nick Mohammed, who would have been in his 30's at the time of filming. He admits to being older than he looks — 153, exactly.
    • Likewise, Mother Xenobia (who in the books is over a hundred years old and totally blind) is played by Nina Wadia, who would have been in her 40's at the time of filming.
  • Alcohol Hic: When Tiger accidentally gets drunk after downing a concoction of tea, gin, and crushed up biscuits, he has the hiccups by the time Jennifer tucks him into a hammock to sleep it off.
  • The Alleged Car: Mr. Zambini drives a horse-drawn Volkswagen — a beetle chassis outfitted with a settee up top for the driver, a yoke in front for the horses, and lanterns to illuminate the way. The brake lights still work, but nothing else seems to.
  • Art Shift: Exposition about the history of the Dragonslayer position, the Mighty Shandar, the Dragonpact, and the Dragonlands is shown via a sepia-toned animated film that Brian Spalding plays for Jennifer when she first shows up at the Dragonslayer HQ. At the end of the reel, he reveals that he was the one who animated it and asks her to clap.
  • Bachelor Auction: Zig-Zagged — King Snodd offers Jennifer a date with the number one knight and pop star of Hereford, Sir Matt Grifflon, if she agrees to slay the dragon Maltcassion and take Grifflon as her official Assistant Dragonslayer. Grifflon appears to go along with it, even calling Jennifer "girlfriend" and similar nicknames to try and sway her to take up King Snodd's offer.
  • Bag of Kidnapping: Discussed. The soldiers sent to bring the Dragonslayer to King Snodd throw a bag over Jennifer's head the moment she leaves Dragonslayer HQ before they throw her into a cage. They drag her before the king with the bag still over her head.
    King Snodd: Ah, Jennifer Strange. Thank you for accepting my invitation.
    Jennifer: They stuffed me in a sack.
    King Snodd: A forced invitation is still an invitation.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • In the first scene nonetheless! Mr. Zambini appears in a swirl of smoke and snow, complete with dramatic camera zoom, to save the young orphan Jennifer from being dragged off to the Troll Wars.
    • Later in the film, Bloacklock saves Jennifer from getting blasted with a cannonball from the landship Sir Matt Grifflon is commanding. He swoops down on the flying carpet/ fur rug from the Dragonslayer HQ and flies her away.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord:
    • The assassin who goes after Jennifer uses a sword (which she chops in half with Exhorbitus) and a bow from which he fires magically-created arrows.
    • Sir Matt Grifflon wields both a crossbow and a sword.
  • Canon Foreigner:
    • The Wizard Bloacklock, who tries on two occasions two assassinate Jennifer. Turns out he was just trying to stop her from killing Maltcassion — he also believes dragons are the source of all magic, and set out to stop Jennifer when it was announced that she was the last Dragonslayer. Once she explains that she doesn't want to kill Maltcassion, he becomes one of her staunchest allies.
    • The president of StuffCo, who purchases the rights to franchise Jennifer's image on limited edition cans of Fizzi-Pop.
  • Chest of Medals: King Snodd's royal robes have a dozen or more medals pinned to the lapels.
  • Childhood Friends: The film changes things so that Jennifer and Tiger were friends back at the orphanage, before Mr. Zambini showed up to take Jennifer into indentured servitude — in fact, Jennifer made a Heroic Sacrifice to save Tiger from getting sent to the Troll War.
  • Child Soldiers: As the film opens, ornery soldier Mr. Brittles shows up at the Orphanage where Jennifer and Tiger live to pull recruits for the Troll Wars, on the grounds that one of the orphans "ate cake that didn't belong to them" and thus needs punishment. He threatens to take all the orphans if he can't discern who broke the rules. Later in the film Mother Xenobia tells Jennifer that if she can't get a placement for Tiger before nightfall, he'll be shipped off to the Troll Wars — guilting Jennifer into taking him to Zambini Towers after his TV Station placement falls through.
  • Coincidental Broadcast: The TV set at Zambini Towers just so happens to broadcast Hermione's interview with Gordon (in which he calls Jennifer a coward, admits he's been working for StuffCo all along, and tells the adoring crowd that he's off to slay the dragon in Jennifer's stead) as Jennifer and Lady Mawgon finish an emotional conversation about her destiny.
  • Color Motif: Mr. Zambini wears a smart three-piece burgundy suit. At the beginning of the film, he magics up a burgundy cape-coat for Jennifer to wear. She continues to wear it throughout the film, and the cloak even makes it into the branding on the tankards, commemorative shields, and cans of Fizzi-Pop with her face on it. When Maltcassion needs to give Jennifer a reason to execute him for breaking the Dragonpact, he runs a claw through the fabric to fulfill the clause of "damaging human property." It's doubly meaningful, as Jennifer believes that slaying Maltcassion will put an end to magic and any chance she has of ever bringing Zambini back. (Nevermind that Maltcassion is either unable or unwilling to correct her assumption and explain that slaying him will restore the balance of magic.) In damaging the cape (the visual link that ties Jennifer to Mr. Zambini), Maltcassion is symbolically asking her to let go of Mr. Zambini.
  • Composite Character: The cast of characters is greatly reduced for the film:
    • There are only two wizards at Kazam instead of the 40+ sorcerers (and the cook) who live and work at Kazam in the book — the Wizard Moobin and Venerable Lady Mawgan are the only ones to make the cut. Since the seer Kevin Zipp isn't a character in the film, it's the Wizard Moobin who first experiences a vision of the last Dragon's death.
    • Gordon replaces Perkins as Jennifer's love interest.
  • Cryptic Conversation: When Jennifer first speaks with Maltcassion, she tells him she won't fight him on Sunday — she believes that dragons are "the soul of magic," and that to kill him would be to bring about magic's end. He gives her a cryptic warning in response:
    Maltcassion: You will face me on Sunday.
    Jennifer: No. I would never end magic!
    Maltcassion: If you fail to face me, Dragonslayer, then magic will destroy the kingdom! Everyone you love will perish! That is the truth.
  • Dies Wide Open: The Wizard Bloacklock takes an arrow in the back that was meant for Jennifer, and dies with his eyes open after begging her to save magic. She tearfully closes his eyes before charging off to stop Gordon from slaying Maltcassion.
  • The Fashionista: Hermione Twizzle (the reporter who provides live updates from the Dragonlands and springs a surprise interview on Jennifer) seems to care more about fashion than about actual news. When she's first introduced she's wearing a bright orange kimono mini-dress (complete with Geisha-inspired up-do) and bright pink heels. Her first interview question for Jennifer is what she's going to wear to slay the dragon, and follows it up with a question on how Jennifer is going to accessorize to match her sword. On "Slay-Day" Hermione goes all out in a bright green "dragon" costume with a scale-pattern dress and chiffon wings.
    Jennifer: I'm not going to kill the dragon. Not unless it violates the pact, which looks very unlikely.
    Hermione: But Sunday is "Slay-Day"! We've all made costumes?
  • Forced Transformation: In the film's opening, Mr. Zambini transforms the antagonistic Mr. Brittles first into a polar bear, then into a fur shawl, and then into a fabric cape. In the books, turning someone into an animal (usually a newt, hence the phrase "I'll newt you") is irreversible and explicitly described as tantamount to murder.
  • Good-Times Montage: Overlaps with Training Montage — when Mr. Zambini brings Jennifer to Kazam to serve as his indentured-orphan-slash-assistant, he raises her like a daughter while teaching her the ins-and-outs of mystical arts management. This is shown in a montage that covers a few years, with Mr. Zambini tucking Jennifer in at night, giving her a Quarkbeast of her very own to train, holding birthday parties for her and tutoring her on his personal theories about the link between dragons and magic. Jennifer is smiling in every scene, clearly having a wonderful time with her adoptive father figure.
  • Groupie Brigade: Sir Matt Grifflon is introduced as "the king's top knight and pop star," with a crowd of screaming women clamoring for his autograph in the background.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: When Mr. Brittles barges into the orphanage to conscript the orphan "who ate cakes that didn't belong to them" into the Troll War, Jennifer lies and said she ate the cakes to protect Tiger.
  • Informed Species: Inverted — the Quarkbeast is played by a regular dog, aside from some special effects sequences where it turns into a ball of glowing smoke. In the books, the Quarkbeast is described as having leathery scales, an armored tail, and rows and rows of teeth.
  • It Sucks to Be the Chosen One: When Jennifer discovers that Mr. Zambini visited Brian Spalding to learn the identity of the next Dragonslayer, she starts to question whether he ever truly cared for her or if he only took her on as an indentured servant/ assistant in order to convince her not to kill Matlcassion. She never wanted the Legacy of the Chosen, and now that she has it she wonders if it invalidates the relationship she had built up with her Parental Substitute, or if that relationship was built on a lie.
  • It Was a Gift: Jennifer's signature burgundy cape-coat was magicked up for her by Mr. Zambini on their first meeting (and it matched his favorite three piece suit to boot). When Maltcassion needs to create grounds for Jennifer to enforce the Dragonpact he deliberately rips the fabric of the cape.
  • Legacy of the Chosen: Downplayed/Exploited. In the books Jennifer's role as the Last Dragonslayer is known only to Brian Spalding the 2nd-to-last Dragonslayer, the Dragonslayers that came before him, and the Mighty Shandar (who wrote all their names on the sword Exhorbitus, most before they were even born). In the film, Mr. Zambini visits Brian Spalding to learn the name of the next Dragonslayer so that he can persuade them not to harm the dragons. When he finds out that the next Dragonslayer is the orphaned Jennifer Strange, Zambini specifically seeks her out and takes her into his home as an indentured servant. He also takes her under his wing, hoping to instill love and respect for dragons in her before she learns she's meant to slay the last of their kind. This causes Jennifer no small degree of angst when she learns that Mr. Zambini knew she was destined to be the last Dragonslayer, wondering if Zambini was only ever kind to her because he was trying to shape her worldview.
  • No Body Left Behind: When Gordon shoots and kills the Quarkbeast, the body dissolves into smoke — of course, only after Jennifer has had time to cry over it.
  • Off on a Technicality: Inverted — Jennifer tells Maltcassion she won't kill him because the Dragonpact hasn't been violated — he hasn't harmed a human or damaged any human property. She figured out that because he can't leave the Dragonlands, he can't violate pact. In response he tears the fabric of her signature cloak and announces that he's "damaged her human property" — effectively giving her a crime to punish him for.
  • Older Than They Look: Brian Spalding looks to be about 30-40, but admits to Jennifer that he's much older than that. See Age Lift above for details.
  • Pinned to the Wall: The Wizard Bloacklock fires an arrow that catches the hood of Jennifer's cloak, pinning her to a crate.
  • Plot Hole: Jennifer passes an armored skeleton in the dragonlands — the dragonlands that no man save the Dragonslayer or their apprentice would have been able to enter for hundreds of years. And since no Dragonslayer has fought or a dragon since the Dragonpact was put in place, there would be no reason to suspect the skeleton belongs to a prior Dragonslayer.
  • Power Floats: The Wizard Moobin begins to float as he experiences a vision of Maltcassion's death during a rewiring job. The same happens to the King's Seer when he receives an identical vision.
  • Readings Blew Up the Scale: When the barrier around the Dragonlands falls and the new dragons are unleashed on Hereford, they converge on Zambini Towers to temporarily free Mr. Zambini from his magical entrapment so he can have a quick conversation with Jennifer. The Shandarmeter left on the dining room table ticks up and up until it explodes.
  • Ribcage Ridge: When Jennifer first explores the Dragonlands to find Maltcassion, she walks past a massive, moss-encrusted Dragon skull. Strangely enough, the rest of the bones seem to be missing.
  • Schizo Tech: Exaggerated all over the place:
    • Vintage automobiles in varying states of repair exist alongside horse-drawn carts and pedal-powered cabs. The Dragonslayer's armored midcentury car and Sir Griffolon's sporty, early 20th century roadster stand in contrast to Mr. Zambini's modified Volkswagen chassis, which is pulled by horses.
    • Sir Grifflon wields a crossbow and a sword, while Gordon uses a shotgun and a pistol.
    • There are bulky cathode-ray televsion sets in several scenes, including a Storefront Television Display across the street from a stall hawking "the latest gramophones."
  • Shoehorned Acronym: Jennifer figures out that the Mighty Shandar owns StuffCo when Tiger inadvertently stands in front of a copy of Shadar's trading charter, blocking out everything except the first letter of the words of "Shandar Trading Utilities Franchising & Finance Company".
  • Spell My Name With An S: Mother Zenobia's name, spelled with a "Z" in the books, is spelled "Xenobia" in the credits.
  • Storefront Television Display:
    • Jennifer, Mother Xenobia, and Tiger call their for their cab to stop just as they pass a window display of TVs broadcasting the "Hereford News" special with footage of Jennifer being dragged off to the king and announcing that she's the official Dragonslayer.
    • A crowd of people can be seen watching Jennifer's interview on the same storefront display.
  • String Theory:
    • When Mr. Zambini goes missing, Jennifer puts together a board with newspaper clippings, photographs, maps, string, and pushpins to try and gain insight into his whereabouts.
    • After Jennifer and Tiger are able to gain access to Mr. Zambini's study, they find a similar conspiracy board on his walls — Zambini's board concerns the dragonlands, Shandar, and StuffCo.
  • Take Me Instead: As the film opens, the cantankerous Mr. Brittles is menacing the orphanage to get conscripts for the Troll Wars — he threatens to take every last orphan if he can't find the one "who ate cakes that don't belong to them." Jennifer knows Tiger ate the cakes, so she lies and says that ''she'' ate them to protect him from being shipped off to the frigid north to fight the vicious, man-eating trolls.
  • Threatening Shark: As magic near the Dragonlands starts to go haywire, a stray bolt strikes the earth beneath the King's Seer's feet and transforms the ground into a massive shark that swallows him whole. The shark then swims through the dirt to menace other campers.
  • Time Passes Montage: After Mr. Zambini disappears, Lady Mawgon puts up a "Missing" flyer in town. The camera slowly zooms in on the flyer as the weather changes, from day to night and from clear weather to rain, until the ragged and waterlogged poster eventually falls.
  • Transplant: Quarkbeasts were first mentioned The Eyre Affair as a one-off gag when the main character is taking her pet Dodo in for a checkup.
  • Training Montage: Overlaps with Good-Times Montage — when Mr. Zambini brings Jennifer home from the orphanage, he trains her in the ways of Mystical Arts Management so she can serve as his assistant. There are scenes of Zambini patiently teaching her how to use a Shandarmeter and excitely tutoring her on his theories about dragons, intercut with scenes that show the passage of time and how he grew to become an adoptive father figure to her.
  • Villain Has a Point: Subverted — when Jennifer tells the crowd of would-be land grabbing citizens assembled at the border of the Dragonlands that she refuses to kill Maltcassion, they vocally berate her for this stance. An angry woman steps forwards, screaming that the dragon's death (and subsequent free-for-all frenzy to claim the Dragonlands) represents the only chance most citizens will ever get to own property or better their prospects. Then the woman says that she dreams of snatching up a parcel of pristine, untainted Dragonland and operating a pay-by-the-hour parking lot on it.
    Screaming Woman: Killing that dragon's my only chance of getting some land! I dream of building a pay-by-the-hour car park!
  • Witch Classic: Lady Mawgon wears a pointed witch's hat to complete her outfit. In the books, she's described as wearing black crinoline gowns (and a motorcycle helmet at one point), but no hat.