Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Book format: Hardback
Description: 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?
Review: This is such an amazing book with such a wonderful and detailed story and although I’ve finished reading it I’m already eager to get part two of this duology! I was desperate to read a good fantasy book after having no fantasy to read for quite a few weeks so I checked this out of the library and it’s been such an amazing read I am now going to buy the book to keep (and possibly hug – I’m weird, I do that with books I love!)
The front cover and title alone were intriguing when I first saw this book as well as the amazing blue sprayed edges which all make sense as you read through the story, the blue becoming a big feature in the story. The book begins with a beautiful if cryptic prologue and then moves on to tell the tale of Lazlo Strange. Although most of the story focusses on the adult Lazlo, the beginning of the book reveals how Lazlo grew up, an orphan raised by monks who was destined to follow that path but instead became a librarian. Lazlo’s character is one that’s easily likable, a typical librarian with a deep passion for stories that no others in his line of work seem to have.
As the story progresses we’re introduced to more characters and the curiosity over the mysterious place called Weep. I was hooked on this book from the very start, something about Laini Taylor’s writing is just so vivid, she really brings to life an amazing world that is so well imagined and so real you feel so engrossed in the story. I’ve never read any books by Taylor before this one but she’s made me a fan with this one and I’ll be on the look out to read more from her.
The story shifts away from just following Lazlo and begins to switch back and forth among different characters from part two onwards. The setting also changes. There’s never confusion over which characters we’re following and the tale just gets more and more interesting. Even though the book is pure fantasy, the world of Weep and its secrets aren’t the typical ones I’d expect from a regular fantasy novel, instead it’s an amazing and unique imagined world.
It’s hard for me to talk about the story without revealing spoilers so I won’t but it’s so long and detailed and yet it’s just written in such a way that I struggle to find the words to describe how engrossed and emotionally attached I became to the characters and their tale. Even when you learn of some dark things that happen there’s more detail to it, to certain characters actions than just mere good and bad. Every bit of the story has additional layers, which may not be apparent at first, that really lead to just more curiosity and questions. Taylor’s writing style is a little more descriptive than some books, something which can sometimes bother me, but in this book it really didn’t. Everything was just written so well that it just added to the story, sucking me more into the tale.
The ending of the book is satisfying and although I began to suspect something about one of the main characters I was still amazed. The revelation was greater than I expected it to be and it wasn’t at all the ending of the story which was such a shock and completely unpredictable that I got very emotional over it. I was so involved in this story emotionally that I was pleased, stunned, upset and almost cried at the ending ( I say almost as I don’t usually cry when reading). It was so good and although I feel satisfied with the end I’m also left wanting to read the next book as the story is far from over and just got darker with that ending.
What I loved more than anything when reading this was the way the story sucked me into it’s world and how some insignificant details told early on really came back in the ending. I was so drawn into this book that it made me want to be there, be a part of that world and it’s not often a book has such an appeal to me like that so this is going on my favourites shelf! The story also hasn’t got anything offensive at all in it which was a bonus for me.
I’d really recommend this book to any fantasy fans out there, although some of the characters are young this isn’t strictly a YA novel but one that could be enjoyed by adults and teens alike. It’s not the darkest of tales but it’s so layered with intrigue and has such wonderful world building that I’m not sure how anyone could dislike the book. This is definitely one of my favourites and I plan to buy it now as well as book two. If you’re looking for a long and satisfying fantasy story then pick up this book, you won’t be disappointed! 🙂
-Review first appeared online May 2017 – now republished here.
What do you think of this book? Have you read any Laini Taylor books? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂