Dreamwielder – Garrett Calcaterra
In a world shrouded by soot and smoke, young Makarria has literally been forbidden to dream…
Legend has foretold the demise of Emperor Thedric Guderian at the hands of a sorceress with royal blood, and the Emperor has made it his legacy to stamp out all magic from the Sargothian Empire in favor of primitive coal fired smelters and steam powered machines. When Guderian’s minions discover a Dreamwielder on a seaside farmstead, a chain of events forces Guderian’s new threat—the young Makarria—to flee from her home and embark upon an epic journey where her path intertwines with that of Princess Taera, her headstrong brother, Prince Caile, and the northman Siegbjorn, who captains a night-flying airship.
Dogging their every step is the part-wolf, part-raven sorcerer, Wulfram, and Emperor Guderian, himself, a man who has the ability to stint magic and a vision to create a world where the laws of nature are beholden to men and machines. Only by learning to control the power she wields can Makarria save her newfound companions and stop the Emperor from irreversibly exterminating both the magic in humans and their bond with nature.
At the beginning of the book this one felt like a classic High/Epic Fantasy tale with blue blood and a low born girl that has a certain gift. It is a gift, though, that I’d never read about before, which gives it something new, something fresh. I have to admit I was curious how the story would develop further and where the author would take us with this rather commonly used premise.
In the world Calcaterra created there are different kinds of magic, but magic is banned by a self-declared powerful emperor. One king and his family want to resist his rule, but more importantly, they want to keep each other safe, because the princess has the gift of premonition.
The youngest Prince, Caile, has been living in another kingdom most of his life under the patronage of one of the foremost allies of the ‘evil’ emperor. His older brother had the same fate, only he had to live under the patronage of the emperor himself. When he dies, Caile offers to take his place so his sister won’t have to come near the emperor. He also wants to find out how his brother died, because he doesn’t believe the story the emperor told them.
Meanwhile his sister has to flee to keep out of the emperor’s hands because his scent-hounds have picked up her magic trail. These scent-hounds are creatures that are part woman, part hound that can track magic used across the country. I loved what the author did with these creatures. It was painful and sad to read how they were used by the emperor’s right hand and I was really glad the author thought about them at the end of the book.
Lastly we have Makkaria. She is a farm girl with a special and very powerful gift. She is a Dreamwielder. She can dream things to reality. If she wants a new gown, she dreams about the new gown and there it is. The only problem is: she doesn’t know she has this gift. Her parents and her grandfather do know and try to prevent her from dreaming, but is that enough? When she is faced with an unbearable grief she unknowingly performs an extraordinary piece of magic which puts her right on the radar of the scent-hounds. She too has to flee now and try to outrun the emperor. But is that her destiny?
The story reads very fluently and there are a lot of twists and turns to keep the reader interested and to give the story that edge that it needs.
At the start of the story the descriptions sometimes felt a bit too extensive, too unattached with the rest of the ongoing tale. They come across as what they are: descriptions, not incorporated in the flow of the story. It was like everything stopped, we got a description and then the story continued. But honestly, I only noticed this in the beginning of the story, after that I didn’t have any problems like this again. Maybe the style just needed to grow on me a bit.
I didn’t feel a deep connection with the characters in this book, not with any of them. But for some reason it didn’t really bother me. I did care enough to want to find out what would happen to them and I was invested enough to keep being interested in the story’s further progress and the characters themselves.
This is certainly a solid Fantasy book that will please many readers. It is well written, with a familiar but still interesting plot and enough surprises to keep you turning the pages.