“‘You’re a storyteller. Dream up something wild and improbable,’ she pleaded. ‘Something beautiful and full of monsters.’‘Beautiful and full of monsters?’
‘All the best stories are.'”
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 or 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?
Welcome to Weep.
Sometimes you just know from the first chapter that a book is bound to be a lifelong favourite and for me that was Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. From start to finish it is warm and vibrant, pulsing with life and magic like a living breathing thing. It filled me to the brim with wonder.
I think I could write an entire review about Taylor’s beautiful, whimsical, masterful writing (however her loveable characters and vastly imaginative scope for world building and storytelling deserves their fair share of mention as well). Taylor’s prose is simply stunning. It’s beautiful in a way that pulls you in, fills you up, and makes you feel like you could maybe even create magic of your own. But what struck me most was how even though it was flowery, her prose flowed perfectly and drew me deeper and deeper into the story rather than distracting from it. It was the perfect balance between beautiful words and interesting storyline. It would seem that nothing is beyond the scope of Taylor’s imagination or her ability to pin it down and skillfully weave it into the story. Gods and monsters and battles that reach the very skies. I’m still in awe when I reflect on how it all came from one woman’s mind.
I experienced Strange the Dreamer like slowly unwrapping a beautiful present, hints being revealed here, there, until finally you’re holding a whole, lovely thing you never knew you needed. There are a myriad of details to be unearthed but Taylor goes easy on us and reveals them gradually. The plot was extremely well balanced and evenly paced. The story didn’t drag for one moment, as can sometimes happen in books of length written descriptively.
Now, I’ve always loved antiheroes. They make a story so much more interesting and fun. But Lazlo Strange, sweet, sincere, too good for this world, Lazlo, has made me consider that now and then its refreshing to read about a kind and uncynical main character. And though he may be naive in some matters, he doesn’t lack in complexity. He may be inherently good but he also has a rugged, primal kind of strength. And Taylor definitely doesn’t spare him from pain. Oh, I felt every injustice he experiences like a physical blow.
There are some relevant and important themes that are explored: fear of those who are different, the impact that conquerors have on oppressed people groups, and the resulting need for redemption for their descending generations. Taylor shows how injustice and oppression can happen on both sides, blurring lines of who is right and who is wrong after the initial wrongdoing. There’s no black and white morality presented here and some interesting questions are raised. Are oppressed groups given the right to take their freedom at any cost, even if the same kind of brutality is necessary to do so? How long should children have to carry the weight of their parents’ sins?
Part of the magic of this book is discovering it for yourself so I don’t want to give much more away. But I absolutely cannot recommend this book enough to those of you who enjoy epic worlds and magic. I will be impatiently waiting for more word on the next instalment.
My rating: 5/5 stars
Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton