The Song of the Quarkbeast
by Jasper Fforde
The Song of the Quarkbeast is a comic fantasy novel, and is the second book in The Chronicles of Kazam series; the first is The Last Dragonslayer. While it is not necessary to read these books in order, they are more enjoyable if you start at the beginning.
Not much has changed. Jennifer Strange is still working as the acting manager for the still-moribund Kazam Mystical Arts Management. Magic is still in short supply. And the magicians still range from eccentric to questionably sentient. And when things do start happening, it's hard ot tell exactly what they are.
Kazam's magical rivals, recently rebranded as iMagic, are up to something. They want to take over Kazam, and have formulated a convoluted plan to do so. The King is up to something. He wants to have more control over the magic in the kingdom, and has allowed iMagic to formulate a convoluted plan to help him do so. The quarkbeasts are up to something. Apparently, quarkbeasts always come in pairs, and spend their lives searching each other out. When they meet, they explode violently. Very violently. None of this bodes well for the future of Kazam.
The first book was quite good, but did not have quite as tight a plot as one might hope for. This book is even more so. It takes a considerable amount of time for the reader to figure out what the main point of the plot is, and much of the book is just one darn thing after another. A few plot arcs are reinforced, a few interesting parts of the Kazam world are explored in greater depths, and many odd and amusing events transpire. In many ways this is a traditional work of comic SF/F, where the goal was to be continuously amusing. While it is continuously amusing, it is not as well plotted or inventive as Fforde's earlier works. It is however, still a good read.
The third book in The Chronicles of Kazam is The Eye of Zoltar. The Kazam books are notoriously hard to find in America, but Amazon assures me that it will be available October 7, 2014.