Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer #1)

Title: Strange the Dreamer
Series Title: Strange the Dreamer
Author: Laini Taylor
Date Added: April 18, 2016
Date Started: August 26, 2017
Date Finished: December 20, 2017
Reading Duration: 116 days
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult (YA)

Strange the Dreamer coverPages: 528
Publication Date: May 28, 2017
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Media: Hardback

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?

When we become waterlogged, and the cage disintegrates, we will intermingle.  When this paper aeroplane leaves the cliff edge, and carves parallel vapour trails in the dark, we will come together.

-Dear Esther

The dream is strange and strange is the dreamer.  Lazlo, the only other name he has.  A war orphan raised by monks, he very early on falls in love with story even as he’s near broken by abuse, and the one tale he can never forget is of the forgotten city of Weep.  Lazlo’s passion for this lost land is equivalent to mine for Final Fantasy VII, which no one can ever quite share.

Lazlo is resigned to merely dreaming of Weep even as he’s able to research it as part of his occupation as junior librarian until the Godslayer Eril-Fane arrives, presenting an opportunity of a lifetime that the dreamer cannot ignore.  But as these things often go, someone with a higher name and more opportunity in the person of alchemist and “Golden Godson” Thyon Nero stands in Lazlo’s way.  His pain at this realization is the pain of everyone who’s ever had a fierce passion for something watch someone with less knowledge but more privilege poised to steal it away.  Lazlo and Thyon are juxtaposed in more than just social position.  The dreamer is consistently described as drab and “grey,” whereas Nero has been fore mentioned as “golden,” so grey (silver) and gold lie in opposition, but just because something isn’t gold doesn’t mean it can’t shine.

Thyon literally steals Lazlo’s dream, and the royals (typically) pretend that he always had it.  This act gives its name to the first part’s title shrestha – when a dream comes true, but not for the dreamer.

Laini Taylor’s writing is nothing less than exquisite, and I found myself reading and rereading passages aloud because the taste of each word was so delicious, even the parts that were bitterly dark.  I’m a fan of prosaic writing, the purpler the better, since I’m a purple prose purveyor myself.  I also love when writers hide cleverness in simplicity as Taylor does with the title.  It means more than I mentioned, but the full extent of that isn’t revealed until later.  More and more of the mystery of Weep is unveiled further on, and there are two points of view the narrative bounces between.

Strange the Dream is one of the best examples of a narrative capturing both beauty and horror in its weft, nor does either side hold all claims to either.  There have been terrible wrongs committed, and there’s no simple course of reconciliation.  It is far too late for that.

You lay laughter over the dark parts.

By the end of you will love most of the characters and absolutely abhor one.  You may also find yourself flipping back to the beginning once you realize how the threads tie together.  Make no mistake; there is nothing “new” here in terms of storytelling (not that there’s anything new anywhere, but I digress), but it’s so expertly presented and so well told with a main character you can’t help but love and root for, this hardly matters.

…it would burn like the wings of the seraphim before this was over.

Muse of Nightmares cannot come out soon enough.

5 stars.

Note:  I initially told a few friends I was going to do a review and an analysis, but upon reviewing my notes, I think it’s more appropriate to just post the review here.  I may return to this novel to do a separate analysis at a later date.

8 thoughts on “Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor (Strange the Dreamer #1)

  1. Pingback: The State of the Writer: 9/9/18 | The Shameful Narcissist Speaks

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