Strange the Dreamer – Strange the Dreamer #1 – Laini Taylor
Release date: March 28th, 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
Age Group: (Young) Adult
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.
I was a big fan of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, which felt refreshingly unique and was written in such a way that it quickly and firmly claimed a place at the top of my favourites list. When word first reached me that a new book, first in a new series, was coming out I could hardly contain my excitement. The title was definitely promising. Strange the Dreamer. There are so many ways that could be interpreted. When the covers were revealed I knew for sure that this was a book I HAD to have. I didn’t even read the synopsis but just took the first opportunity to get my hands on it.
Lazlo Strange is an orphan, growing up in a monastery. Ever since he was little he has been fascinated by a mysterious city in the desert. Most people dismiss his fantasies as fairy tales and dreams. One day, when he’s out playing out the stories in his head, he suddenly forgets the city’s name. All of a sudden, he can’t remember what it was called and instead he only knows it as ‘Weep’. From that moment he becomes even more determined to learn everything he can about this mystery. Through some lucky circumstances he can start work at an important library as a junior librarian, which is like a dream come true for Lazlo. Every break is used to search for books that mention ‘Weep’ or anything that could be related to it. As Lazlo grows up, he gathers a significant amount of knowledge about Weep and its citizens. And then one day the famous Tizerkane, warriors of Weep, ride through the library gates, looking for help.
From here on the story takes a completely different turn, with Lazlo setting out with the Tizerkane to Weep to help them with their problem. A problem that they haven’t even named yet. Recruits from all over the world specialised in different fields like engineering, explosives and alchemy join the group and set out for Weep. Lazlo seems to have finally found his place in the world and I really enjoyed reading how he was opening up among these new people, how he really became the person he had always wanted to become. It’s a special thing to see all your dreams come true.
After the extensive introduction to Lazlo the story splits in two points of view. One still stays with Lazlo, but the other focuses on a girl, Sarai,. She not just any girl though, she is special. It takes a while to get to the point where who she is becomes clear, but oh man, the story really takes off then.
I’m not going to go in to too much detail about the rest of the book as it’s the kind of tale you have to discover by yourself to get the full experience. It has some strong messages incorporated in it that really resonated with me and it was written with such elegance and skill that I couldn’t not fall in love with it. Taylor uses some returning fantasy/occult tropes such as gods and goddesses, ghosts and magic, but makes them into something singular, something that still fills you with wonder and curiosity.
Strange the Dreamer is the kind of book that keeps occupying your mind long after you’ve finished it. No wonder with an ending like THAT. (Sorry, I’m teasing, but it really is worthy of caps, I promise). It is beautiful, touching, heart-wrenching and frustrating in a good way. I can’t wait for The Muse of Nightmares. Is it 2018 yet?