Book Review: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (5/5)

28449207 YA Fantasy, 2017

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.

While it took me about a 1/4 of the book to really get into, Strange the Dreamer quickly sank its teeth in deep. The world building in this book is phenomenal; the lore is rich; and the entire book reads with that whimsy of a fairy tale and the heart of an epic fantasy.

This book is a great example of the omniscient narrator. It slips between third person limited and omniscient – or is third person omniscient a type of POV? Anyway, the POV slips between characters and maintains a sense of intimacy with each character while at the same time coming from the omniscient narration – as in coming from a “god like” narrator who knows what’s happening in everyone’s head and what is going to happen in the future.

And I can’t decide if I like it or not. I mean, I like the “prophecy” like feel it gives to a passage, the hints at the future and events as they unfold. It took me a few chapters to get into the POV, and while it’s not my chosen POV to write in, I still admire it. It’s a complicating POV to do well, and Taylor nailed it.

My only con with this book comes with it’s length. I mean, this book is LONG. It’s not a lite read; this book is detailed and deep, and each chapter had a purpose. Each character played a role, however seemingly small. There is a lot of world building, a lot of story built into the background and lore that is so beautifully woven into the main story. The exposition is well-placed although a bit on the heavy side.

The beginning of this book was heavy on the exposition. We spend a long time getting to know Lazlo. We start at the abbey, go to the library, meet Thyon, then skip back in time so we can understand the tension between Lazlo and Thyon, and then jump back to the present.

However, everything in Strange the Dreamer flowed together with a seamless beauty. If I had three words to describe it, they would be beautiful, epic, and marvelous. So, I’m giving Strange the Dreamer a 5 out of 5. A must-read for any writer or reader of fantasy.



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