Jasper's Potted Precis
This page is really for people who have encountered my books due to a vague recommendation to 'look at the website', and want to know what's going on.
The order is in the order they were published, and should be the order to read, although you can scroll down and jump straight into The Big Over Easy without having read any of the Thursday Next books.
You can order my books from your local bookshop or online using my Buy the Books! page. Please don't buy books or magazines from supermarkets. Would you go to a bookshop to buy carrots? Of course not.
My next book to be published can be found by clicking here.
The Eyre Affair
Book 1 of the Thursday Next series (2001)
'Ingenious - I'll watch Jasper Fforde nervously'
Time Out New York
'Compulsively readable ... catnip to book lovers ... totally absorbing'
Pirouetting on the boundaries between sci-fi, the crime thriller and intertextual whimsy, Jasper Fforde's outrageous The Eyre Affairputs you on the wrong footing even on its dedication page, which proudly announces that the book conforms to Crimean War economy standard.
Fforde's heroine, Thursday Next, lives in a world where time and reality are endlessly mutable--someone has ensured that the Crimean War never ended for example--a world policed by men like her disgraced father, whose name has been edited out of existence. She herself polices text--against men like the Moriarty-like Acheron Styx, whose current scam is to hold the minor characters of Dickens' novels to ransom, entering the manuscript and abducting them for execution and extinction one by one. When that caper goes sour, Styx moves on to the nation's most beloved novel--an oddly truncated version of Jane Eyre--and kidnaps its heroine. The phlegmatic and resourceful Thursday pursues Acheron across the border into a Leninist Wales and further to Mr Rochester's Thornfield Hall, where both books find their climax on the roof amid flames.
Fforde is endlessly inventive: his heroine's utter unconcern about the strangeness of the world she inhabits keeps the reader perpetually double-taking as minor certainties of history, literature and cuisine go soggy in the corner of our eye. The audacity of the premise and its working out provides sudden leaps of understanding, many of them accompanied by wild fits of the giggles. This is a peculiarly promising first novel. --Roz Kaveney
Lost in a Good Book
Book 2 of the Thursday Next series (2002)
'This year's grown up J K Rowling'
'Don't ask, just read it. Fforde is a true original'
'An absolute joy to read. Is it a crime novel? I couldn't really tell, I was laughing too much.'
'Douglas Adams would be proud'
'A stroke of fantasy genius . . . Unashamedly silly, but also marvellously intelligent . . . Hilarious'
Scotland on Sunday
'A decidedly quirky and strangely thought-provoking debut novel'
'Let yourself be entertained by a witty romp'
'The eccentric epic - A read that'll leave you breathless'
Thursday Next, literary detective and newlywed is back to embark on an adventure that begins, quite literally on her own doorstep. It seems that Landen, her husband of four weeks, actually drowned in an accident when he was two years old. Someone, somewhere, sometime, is responsible. The sinister Goliath Corporation wants its operative Jack Schitt out of the poem in which Thursday trapped him, and it will do almost anything to achieve this - but bribing the ChronoGuard? Is that possible? Having barely caught her breath after The Eyre Affair, Thursday must battle corrupt politicians, try to save the world from extinction, and help the Neanderthals to species self-determination. Mastadon migrations, journeys into Just William, a chance meeting with the Flopsy Bunnies, and violent life-and-death struggles in the summer sales are all part of a greater plan. But whose? and why?
The Well of Lost Plots
Book 3 of the Thursday Next series (2003)
New York Times on Lost in a Good Book
'An immensely enjoyable, almost compulsive experience'
'The Eyre Affair is a silly book for smart people; postmodernism played as raw, howling farce'
Christina Hardyment, Independent
'A born wordsmith of effervescent imagination'
John Sutherland, Guardian
'Jasper Fforde has gone where no other fictioneer has gone before. Millions of readers now follow ... Thank you, Jasper'
Leaving Swindon behind her to hide out in the Well of Lost Plots (the place where all fiction is created), Thursday Next, Literary Detective and soon-to-be one parent family, ponders her next move from within an unpublished book of dubious merit entitled 'Caversham Heights'. Landen, her husband, is still eradicated, Aornis Hades is meddling with Thursday's memory, and Miss Havisham - when not sewing up plotholes in 'Mill on the Floss' - is trying to break the land-speed record on the A409. But something is rotten in the state of Jurisfiction. Perkins is 'accidentally' eaten by the minotaur, and Snell succumbs to the Mispeling Vyrus. As a shadow looms over popular fiction, Thursday must keep her wits about her and discover not only what is going on, but also who she can trust to tell about it...With grammasites, holesmiths, trainee characters, pagerunners, baby dodos and an adopted home scheduled for demolition, 'The Well of Lost Plots' is at once an addictively exciting adventure and an insight into how books are made, who makes them - and why there is no singular for 'scampi'.
Book 4 of the Thursday Next series (2004)
'The best yet, which is quite remarkable considering how good the others were.'
'Fforde has a knack of creating memorable characters whom the reader greets like long-lost friends . . . Buy it; chuckles guaranteed.'
'Totally and utterly brilliant. An absolute must for any Fforde fan'
'Amazing . . . Fforde's literary invention and playfulness is unique'
Herald Sun, Australia
'this is brilliantly conceived and cleverly written. An absolute gem.'
'a wild rush of outrageous notions and silly jokes and leaves you feeling pleasantly tipsy'
Thursday Next, Head of JurisFiction and ex-SpecOps agent, returns to her native Swindon accompanied by a child of two, a pair of dodos and Hamlet, who is on a fact-finding mission in the real world. Thursday has been despatched to capture escaped Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine but even so, now seems as good a time as any to retrieve her husband Landen from his state of eradication at the hands of the Chronoguard. It's not going to be easy. Thursday's former colleagues at the department of Literary Detectives want her to investigate a spate of cloned Shakespeares, the Goliath Corporation are planning to switch to a new Faith based corporate management system and the Neanderthals feel she might be the Chosen One who will lead them to genetic self-determination. With help from Hamlet, her uncle and time-travelling father, Thursday faces the toughest adventure of her career. Where is the missing President-for-life George Formby? Why is it imperative for the Swindon Mallets to win the World Croquet League final? And why is it so difficult to find reliable childcare?
The Big Over Easy
Book 1 of the Nursery Crime series.
'It looks like he died from injuries sustained during a fall...' Bestselling author Jasper Fforde begins an effervescent new series. It's Easter in Reading - a bad time for eggs - and no one can remember the last sunny day. Humpty Dumpty, well-known nursery favourite, large egg, ex-convict and former millionaire philanthropist is found shattered beneath a wall in a shabby area of town. Following the pathologist's careful reconstruction of Humpty's shell, Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his Sergeant Mary Mary are soon grappling with a sinister plot involving cross-border money laundering, the illegal Bearnaise sauce market, corporate politics and the cut and thrust world of international Chiropody. As Jack and Mary stumble around the streets of Reading in Jack's Lime Green Austin Allegro, the clues pile up, but Jack has his own problems to deal with. And on top of everything else, the JellyMan is coming to town...
'A riot of puns, in-jokes and literary allusions that Fforde carries off with aplomb' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
'Hilarious, absurd and utterly compelling.' --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The word of mouth on Jasper Fforde has long been enthusiastic, among those in the know. But now that his readership has expanded immeasurably, the expectations for such books as The Big Over Easy are considerable. And whether or not those expectations will be met by this new book depends on the readiness of readers to strike out in new directions--just as the author has done. Fforde's speciality has long been the outrageous teasing of narrative forms, and there's a measure of that here, although more disciplined than in earlier books.
Rather in the fashion in which Stephen Sondheim exploded the world of fairytale in Into the Woods, Fforde here brings all the apparatus of the tough crime thriller to bear on the nursery rhyme. Minor baronet Humpty Stuyvesant Van Dumpty III has been found dead--and in pieces--beneath a wall in a less salubrious area of town. The perpetrator would appear to be his ex-wife, but she has shot herself. Detective Inspector Jack Spratt and his colleague Mary Mary are assigned to the case, and soon find themselves knee-deep in money-laundering, bullion smuggling and major problems with beanstalks.
This isn't quite the Fforde mixture as before, although he has previously favoured a crime motor for his plots. The skill in this outrageously entertaining (and rigorously plotted) concoction lies in a double conjuring trick: we are always amazed to find ourselves reading so assiduously about ludicrous figures (who become quite as interesting heroes as, say, Philip Marlowe) when common sense dictates only children should find such conceits entertaining. Not so! No child could appreciate the dazzling wordplay and witty imagination on offer here, and most readers will be more than happy to encounter detective Inspector Jack Spratt (and his contrary sidekick kick Mary Mary) again and again. --Barry Forshaw
The Fourth Bear
Book 2 of the Nursery Crime series.
DCI Jack Spratt heads the Berkshire Nursery Crime Division, handling all inquiries involving nursery rhyme characters and other PDRs (persons of dubious reality). After doubts arise concerning his handling of the Great Red-Legg'd Scissorman's arrest and the Red Riding Hood affair, he is suspended pending a mental health review. His DS Mary Mary promises to consult him on all cases, to bypass the suspension. They begin an investigation of porridge-smuggling by anthropomorphic bears.
Jack's troubles increase when the argumentative Punches move in next door and his son adopts a sly and sticky-fingered pet. He is forced to reveal to his shocked wife that he is himself a PDR (Person of Dubious Reality). Furthermore, his psychiatrist is particularly sceptical about his claim that his new car repairs itself when no one is watching, and the car salesman who can prove his sanity cannot be found. His self-esteem is somewhat restored when the newspaperman who has been hounding him begs Jack's help in finding his missing sister "Goldilocks". It seems she was working on an explosive story involving cucumber growers.
Meanwhile the Gingerbreadman, the notorious murderous biscuit,(or possibly cake) escapes custody leaving a trail of bodies; Jack is frustrated when the case is given to an unimaginative officer outside NCD. While Jack and Mary are making enquiries about Goldilocks, they twice encounter the fugitive biscuit, but fail to capture him.
With an unexploded bomb threatening to engulf the whole of Reading and National Security on their tail, Jack and Mary must put the pieces together and discover the identity of the Fourth Bear. But it won't be easy.
First Among Sequels
Book 5 in the Thursday Next series
It's 2002, fourteen years after Thursday's last adventure battling a rogue book character in the Outland. Swindon seems to have quieted down since the excitement of the 1988 Superhoop. The politicians' biggest concern these days is which act of idiocy would be the best way to spend the growing, unwieldy Stupidity surplus. Thursday and her husband Landen Park-Laine now have three children. Thursday has settled into a quiet, normal life, dropping out of the SpecOps and Jurisfiction games completely.
Or has she? The SpecOps units, formed to police the stranger crime elements such as the supernatural and literary crimes, have officially disbanded; unofficially, they have gone underground, working quietly behind a business front that installs carpets across town. Despite her promises to Landen, Thursday has also been secretly policing the Bookworld with her Jurisfiction colleagues, where the death of Sherlock Holmes, the discovery of book probes, and falling Outland reading rates have put the Bookworld on edge.
In an effort to fill out the dwindling Jurisfiction forces, Thursday must mentor two apprentices-two very different doppelgangers born in the books written about her own life. One is a hippie-dippy do-gooder from the fifth feel-good novel of Thursday's adventure; the other is an uncensored, oversexed gunslinger from the first four unauthorized novels. Under her tutelage, Thursday1-4 finally finds an opportunity to exact revenge on Thursday for her neglect of the factually-challenged, unauthorized series. As her first order of havoc-wreaking business, Thursday1-4, posing as the real Thursday, jumps into the Outland and into Thursday's home. Before Thursday can reduce the rogue to text, Thursday1-4 steals her Travelbook, effectively locking her mentor out of the Bookworld completely.
Meanwhile, her eldest child, Friday Next, is now a "grunty and unintelligible" sixteen year old. Friday is destined to become one of the Chronoguard's most respected and influential leaders-if Thursday can convince him to join in time to help invent time travel. Everyone in the Chronoguard, including a clean-cut overachieving alternate Friday, is campaigning to help her force Friday into the service of time. But if the real Friday knows his role in the invention of time travel, he's refusing to give it up, despite threats on his existence.
While Thursday tries to find a way back into the Bookworld, her evil impostor gives the green light to a project that will rewrite the English classics, complete with audience call-in votes directing the story, starting with Pride and Prejudice. To save books from being turned into reality television shows, Thursday must turn to her sworn enemy, the Goliath Corporation. They have made progress on the Austen Rover, the first interliterary tour bus ever created. Goliath has solicited Thursday's help to map the Rover's entry into the Bookworld since, without it, they could easily wind up lost in the Nothing-vast, treacherous areas of abandoned Dark Reading Matter. But Goliath has ulterior motives in trying to jump into the Bookworld, and Thursday won't find out until she's trapped at sea in an excruciating Moral Dilemma. Can Thursday save the literary canon from decimation by creative democracy?
Shades of Grey
Book 1 in the Shades series
Boy meets girl, girl meets boy. Girl then tries to kill boy - twice - the boy can see a lot of Red, and the girl can't see any colour at all, and that's something of a problem.
Welcome to the colour-obsessed world of Shades of Grey, which is set at least two world orders into the future. Visual colour has become commodified, the social pecking order and levels of authority are not based on intellect, cash, ability, or the best liar, but which colour you can see - Purples are at the top of the heap and Reds at the bottom, with the Greys who see no colour at all as the lowly drones of the collective.
Power is decentralised with village Prefects meting out local punishment, and national collections have been dispersed - every village holds at least one Picasso, and often a Vermeer and a Chagall, too. The land is lush, semi-tropical, teams with wandering megafauna, antelope, and Bouncing Goat - but not many humans. The trappings of the previous civilisation are now covered in a soft blanket of leaf mould, soil, and the annoyingly invasive rhododendron.
The occasional building still stands wrapped tightly in ivy, but for the most part only the iron postboxes, street lamps and telephone boxes serve to remind that there was someone here before. But echoes of the gone-away civilisation do still linger on, such as strictly mandated politeness, compulsory dance lessons, postcodes, and tea at four o'clock sharp.
As the story begins, Eddie Russett arrives with his father at the village known as East Carmine. It is a temporary assignment and at first Eddie finds it all horribly unsophisticated. There is little synthetic colour, and only a linoleum factory for income. Intending to marry the upmarket Constance Oxblood back home and inherit the family stringworks, Eddie wants to leave just as soon as he can.
But there is something about the quirky Grey named Jane that intrigues him. Perhaps it is her retrousee nose, perhaps it is her contempt for the strict order of their world. Perhaps it is because she is everything Constance isn't. In any event, Eddie soon finds himself drawn into a sequence of events that lead to the one place that the citizenry were never intended to go: The truth.
The Last Dragonslayer
Book 1 in the Dragonslayer series
The following review is from Christina Hardyment of the Independent:
"Money is a form of alchemy," says Mother Zenobia, the kindly head of the Sisters of the Lobster Orphanage. "It turns kind normal people into greed-mongers, intent only on acquisitiveness."
Jasper Fforde has one of those effervescent imaginations that never throws in one joke when he can fit in two or three, but he also has a provocatively serious purpose. He creates his mad but logical parallel version of the Welsh Marches with loving detail.
The Last Dragonslayer stars Jennifer Strange, a teenage foundling who runs Kazam Mystical Arts Management. This Hereford-based company uses the now-failing power of wizards to do such mundane jobs as installing domestic electrical circuits by telepathy or delivering live organs by flying carpet.
The staff are temperamental, but some of them are soothsayers and the despotic King Snodd IV wants to know the exact time of the death of the last surviving dragon, so that he can grab the Dragonlands, 350 acres of virgin territory so far protected by a force-field that reduces anyone who touches it to a pile of ash. Except, that is, for the Dragonslayer, the enforcer of the arrangement set up by a mighty wizard who cooped up the dragons. He can come and go freely; his duty is to protect the dragons if they behave and kill them if they don't.
Jennifer, a girl of unusual rectitude, is rightly suspicious of Snodd's motives and those of Consolidated Stuff, a global business acquiring resources and power faster than you can say Walmart. But how can a teenager combat such forces? Only with the help of the endearing Tiger Prawn, another resourceful orphan, and the Quarkbeast, a dog with teeth like Edward's scissorhands.
Fforde's classic structure satisfies in the way that all good fairy stories do. Jennifer is given Exhorbitus, a sword so sharp that it cuts carbide as if it was a paper bag, and the Dragonslayer's bullet-proof Rolls-Royce. But it will be her inner resources that generate the brilliant twist that brings together all the strands of the tale into a magnificent climax."
The Song of the Quarkbeast
Book 2 in the Dragonslayer series
Electro-magical devices were once everywhere. They ran the Mobile Phone Network, the radar for air traffic control and even medical scanners and microwaves. When the power of magic faded, they were switched off one by one. The only long-term electromagical devices still functioning as our story begins are yo-yos, the extremely useful compass-pointing-to-North idea and the spell that keep bicycles from falling over.
Things are about to change. As the background Wizidrical Power slowly builds after the Big Magic, King Snodd IV of the Kingdom of Hereford realises that the power of magic has untold financial possibilities, and the man that controls Magic controls almost anything. To this end he has appointed as 'Official Court Sorcerer' the odious Blix at iMagic, one of only two Houses of Enchantment left in the world. With Blix's willing assistance, only one person stands between King Snodd and his plans for power and riches beyond the wildest dreams of avarice.
Meet Jennifer Strange, sixteen-year-old acting manager of Kazam, the only other House of Enchantment. She doesn't care for King Snodd or his plans for magic. Ancient decree dictates that Kazam can refuse Snodd's demands, but Blix challenges Kazam to a contest: The first team to rebuild their half of Hereford's collapsed 12th century bridge gains control of the other's House of Enchantment.
With only one functioning Wizard and her faithful assistant 'Tiger' Prawns, Jennifer must use ever ounce of ingenuity to vanquish Blix and derail King Snodd's plans. It may involve a trip on a magic carpet at the speed of sound to the Troll Wall, it may involve a second Quarkbeast sniffing around town. It might also involve the mysterious Transient Moose, and a powerless sorceress named Once Magnificent Boo.
But one thing is certain: Jennifer Strange will not relinquish the noble powers of magic to big business and commerce without a fight..
One of Our Thursdays is Missing
Book 6 in the Thursday Next series
It is a time of unrest in the Bookworld. Only the diplomatic skills of ace literary detective Thursday Next can avert a devastating genre war. But a week before the Peace Talks, Thursday vanishes. Has she simply returned home to the Realworld or is this something more sinister?
But all is not yet lost. Living at the quiet end of Speculative fiction is the written Thursday Next, who is attempting to keep her own small four-book series both respectful to her illustrious namesake and far from the grim spectre of being remaindered.
Despite her desire to stay away from the spotlight, written Thursday is asked by Jurisfiction to investigate a novel that has suffered an in-read breakup and deposited a narrative debris-field halfway across the Bookworld. It's not quite so straightforward: Someone has ground the ISBN numbers from the wreckage, and all of a sudden the mysterious Men in Plaid want her dead.
As the hunt for answers takes her from the Council of Genres to Fan-Fiction and from Comedy to Vanity publishing, written Thursday realises that Real Thursday had been investigating a plot fiendish enough to be killed for. But who is responsible? Only a trip up the Mighty Metaphoric river and a visit to the hideously frightening Realworld can provide the answers.
With her clockwork butler Sprockett and her Designated Love Interest Whitby Jett, Thursday has to get to grips with her inability to match up to her Namesake's talent, and prove herself to the one person she respects more than anyone else: The real her...
The Woman Who Died a Lot
Book 7 in the Thursday Next series
The Bookworld's leading enforcement officer Thursday Next is at a low point in her life: she is four months into an enforced semi-retirement following a near fatal assassination attempt. She is yet to walk without a stick, has double vision more often than she doesn't, and limited mobility in her left arm. She returns home to Swindon and her family: To her ever-supportive husband Landen, her children, assorted strange relations and former work colleagues.
A time, then, for relaxation, recuperation, and rest. A time to avoid stress, take it easy, sit down, meet old friends and do very little.
If only life were that simple.
Thursday's son Friday is feeling functionless now the Time Engines have been shut down, and the glittering career he was to have in the Time Travelling elite of the Chronoguard is relegated to a might-have been. Complications arise with a message from the Federated Union of Timeworkers, and a glimpse of how his life might turn out now - and he doesn't like what he sees.
Thursday's daughter Tuesday is a precocious genius of only fifteen with an immeasurably high IQ. She is having trouble perfecting the anti-smote shield needed to protect Swindon from the wrath of an angry Deity, eager to cleanse the city of all sin in a week's time. Eager to take over if she fails, Smote Solutions, Inc, have another plan to draw the smoting from the city, and it's less ethically sound.
Thursday's non-existent daughter Jenny remains in Thursday's head as a mindworm, and only the person who put her there, the memory-bending Mnemonomorph Aornis Hades, can get rid of her. The only problem is, Aornis remains at large, and given her powers to alter people's memories, may remain so indefinitely. But the ever-resourceful Landen is not yet out of ideas.
Trouble too at Goliath, where the manufacture of synthetic humans seem to have advanced considerably, and Thursday and Landen need to be on the constant lookout for synthetic Thursdays replacing the real one, a technique that seems to be growing in complexity, and frequency. But it's not just for fun. Goliath, as usual, have a nefarious plan brewing.
If you thought dealing with the Bookworld could be hard, wait until you see what it takes to be a mother.
The Eye of Zoltar
Book 3 in the Dragonslayer series
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...
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