The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde
The creator of Thursday Next now brings us Jennifer Strange, a foundling who now runs Kazam, basically an employment agency for wizards in one of the Ununited Kingdoms (of Great Britain, presumably. Wales is mentioned at one point). The agency used to run by Mr. Zambini, but he’s not available right now and Jennifer has been steeped in how Kazam runs since she was 12 (that was three almost four years ago). Magic isn’t what it used to be, though, and it now takes Kazam’s three most powerful wizards to rewire a house (they can’t really do the job better than an electrician, but they can do it without ripping the walls out of your house).
There’s a definite correlation between the power of magic available and the number of dragons in the wild, though there’s probably no link. The last dragon is going to die soon, though (many wizards are having premonitions) and when he goes his land, which abuts Jennifer’s kingdom (among others) becomes available to the first person to get in there and stake it off. Right now, only a Dragonslayer, a post established long ago by treaty between the Kingdoms and the dragons, can enter the dragon’s lands without being fried by the magic barriers.
But that’s okay. Certainly no one would give such an important job to a nameless orphan, right? And Jennifer already has a job, doesn’t she? Certainly she doesn’t have a destiny.
Mildly amusing story, interesting characters, and a Quarkbeast, balanced by an ending that in my opinion doesn’t quite hold up and some inconsistent characterization. And frankly, something that happens near the climax requires two characters to both be frighteningly stupid, albeit at different times. Overall, mildly recommended.
The Homeward Bounders by Diana Wynne Jones
A re-read. Here. Still recommended.