Monday, 4 September 2017

#CBR9 Book 77: "Strange the Dreamer" by Laini Taylor

Page count: 532 pages
Rating: 5 stars

From Goodreads:
The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around - and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever. 

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god?And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries - including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed?And if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

I am reluctant to give more information about this book than the blurb already reveals, because as several other reviewers have pointed out before me, this book is a wonderfully immersive reading experience and the less you know about the details of the plot, the more lovely surprises there are for you along the way.

Anyone who's read anything by Laini Taylor before (and if you haven't, go check out Daughter of Smoke and Bone immediately. Don't worry, this review will wait) will know that she has a very rich prose, and is excellent at world building. She describes settings, experiences and characters so vividly and her books tend to completely engross me. This is absolutely the case here. She's also very good about writing complex individuals, there is very little black and white in her characterisation. Everyone is flawed in some way. Rarely is someone entirely good or wholly evil, but they are always interesting to read about.

The reader is taken into the story through the eyes of Lazlo Strange, an orphan who becomes a librarian and spends all his free time finding information about a mythical lost city. He vividly remembers the city having a different name at one point, but one memorable day in his childhood, it was as if it was stolen out of his mind, being replaced by the word 'Weep'. By the time he grows up, he almost doubts that there ever was a different name to it, but he still dreams. Lazlo is clever and humble, and a very good person. He will selflessly help others, even when it might lead to others exploiting his hard work and presenting it as their own. He is finally rewarded for his hard work when an exotic delegation comes to the library where he works.

There are so many other fascinating characters in this story as well, and so many different settings to explore over the course of the book. There are mysteries to be solved, and dreams that may or may not come true, and hints of romance, but also great loss and tragedy. It's also important to note that this book is NOT self-contained and ends on a heck of a cliff-hanger. There is as of yet no publication date for the sequel (I think this will happily only be a duology, so once you have the next book in your hot little hands, you'll get to read the end to the story), and if you hate unresolved endings and waiting for months or maybe years between books, maybe hold off until The Muse of Nightmares is released.

Judging a book by its cover: Both covers for this book are very pretty, but the edition I read had this, the UK cover, with the beautiful dark blue background and the stylised moth in the centre of the cover. I like that the faint patterns in the blue could be stars, or maybe tracings of a map, it's not entirely clear. Since the colour blue and moths are both very significant in the book, this cover seems wholly appropriate and the deep blue just soothes my soul.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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