Inside a dream.
Within a lost city.
In the shadow of an angel.
At the brink of calamity.
Strange the Dreamer introduces a new, richly imagined fantasy world from Laini Taylor, something a lot of us have been waiting for since the end of her DoSaB trilogy. This beautiful blue book does not disappoint!
As the book opens, a blue-skinned girl falls from the sky in the city of Weep. This remains a mystery for some time, with the story turning towards an orphaned boy, named Lazlo Strange by the monks who took him in. Lazlo becomes obsessed with the lost city known only to him as Weep, for its true name has been erased from memory. Fate sent him to the Great Library of Zosma City, a place which granted him access to thousands of tomes where he could research the Unseen City. There he remains, content as a librarian until the day his books are taken.
Thyon Nero is the golden boy of Zosma, he has the queen’s favour and is a renowned alchemist. But his and Lazlo’s fates are intertwined, the two sharing knowledge which the nobleman would never admit to, and he treats the orphan with disdain. Thyon wants to be the best at everything, a legend in the making, so when the opportunity to travel to the Unseen City arises, he does what he must to get chosen.
He had loved the library, and had felt, as a boy, as though it had a kind of sentience, and perhaps loved him back.
But Lazlo’s life has been dedicated to learning about Weep. The inequality is clear but Lazlo possesses a humble and honest nature which leaves him in good stead with the people he must impress the most. It turns out the noblemen and tradesmen selected may be good at what they do but they are not good people. It's impossible not to like Lazlo Strange.
Meanwhile, back in Weep, the gods are still alive, well at least their offspring. Trapped in a metal citadel in the sky, the children stick to the Rule; do not be discovered. Sarai is the only one who can leave, and she can only do that through her moths. Each night they emerge, taking her consciousness down into the streets below. As the moths find their targets, Sarai is transported into the dreams of humans. Or are they nightmares?
That was the curse of dreaming: One woke to pallid reality, with neither wings on one's shoulders nor goddess in one's arms.
For there is an injustice that can never be redeemed. Just like Laini’s previous books there’s no obvious black and white morality. Both sides have committed horrors against the other. Is each new generation destined to bear the burdens of what their parents did? Two wrongs do not make a right, and the complexity of characters makes the story so much more compelling.
The world-building is fantastic, I love this new world. Sarai sees the world through her moths and through dreamscapes. Not everyone sees Weep the same in their dreams, and when she meets Lazlo she is entranced by the beauty he sees.
I think I saw the ending coming once I'd connected the prologue to everything else but I was willing for a different path to emerge. An impossible choice, both for the characters, and the reader, to choose. I think what happens will make the second book more uncomfortable reading, but we will see. Of course, I shall be reading it and I can only hope it won't be too long a wait.
Goodreads | Amazon | Waterstones | Hive | Wordery
Book Source: Purchased