By Laini Taylor
Series: Strange the Dreamer #1
Hardcover: 536 pages
Publication Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
My Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ( 5 out of 5 Stars )
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.
Our story starts with Lazlo Strange, a young orphan from a war-torn village, raised by monks from a baby. By a weird twist of fate, he ends up in The Great Library, a vast city for thinkers. He never returns to the abbey, and is immediately given an apprentice job as a librarian. The reader's love for Lazlo quickly unfurls, like a night blooming flower. Oh, how I loved him from the very first chapter.
"He read while he walked. He read while he ate. The other librarians suspected he somehow read while he slept, or perhaps didn't sleep at all. On the occasions that he did look up from the page, he would seem as though he were awakening from a dream. Strange the dreamer, they called him."A character that is just as much a book nerd as I am. Lazlo has a dream. A strange dream. There is a myth that is told about a lost city. A city called Weep, yet that is not its name at all. As a small five year old boy, Lazlo remembers the real name of the city being plucked from his mind by what could only be called magic. There is no one alive that remembers this city's real name, and all that can even recall it exists calls it Weep. A fitting name for a beaten city. Once Lazlo reaches The Great Library, he scours the books for any information about Weep. What he can find consist of fairy tales and old, forgotten myths. 7 years of research and he is still no closer to his dream of finding this lost city. That is, until one day, out of nowhere, warriors from his lost city come riding right up to his library. Led by a barrel of a man called the Godslayer, they are seeking help for Weep. Instead of revealing the city's problem that must be solved, these warriors rely on strangers' trust and willingness to see a city no outsider has ever been allowed to enter. It works perfectly. The warriors are able to gather a large group of thinkers, including an alchemist able to transmute metal to gold, an explosions expert, a couple with the ability to build and fly an aircraft, and various other experts. And a librarian called Strange the Dreamer.
Through their trek across the desert, the reader sees Lazlo mature and grow as a character. He is no longer the soft scholar, but a hardened traveler. The men know him as a storyteller, and he regales them with the myths and stories he has collected of their own city. Surprisingly, these myths are not far off from the truth of Weep. There were once Gods that lorded over the citizens of Weep, taking their children for years at a time. These Gods were sadistic and used their powers only to harm. Enter the Godslayer. As a captive of the Goddess of Despair, he is able to slaughter all six of these creatures, along with all of their half God spawn. Or so he thinks. In the home of the Gods, where more slaughter than happiness has existed, still live 5 Godspawn with powers of their own.
Enter Sarai. A beautiful blue skinned, red haired Muse of Nightmares. Her power allows her to enter the dreams of mortals and live in their world for a time. There are five of these Godspawn left, and they are all trapped in the citadel of their birth. None are able to communicate with the outside world. It is a bleak life, but it is still a life.
"That's how you go on. You lay laughter over the dark parts. The more dark parts, the more you have to laugh. With defiance, with abandon, with hysteria, any way you can."I fell in love with Sarai. Her ability to show mercy to those that slaughtered her mother, her ability to forgive and try to find something more than vengeance to live for. The fact that she absolutely knew that the citizens of her city would brutally murder her if they caught a glimpse of her blue skin, yet she still held hope in her heart. Hope that things might someday be different. I loved her.
"Sarai was seventeen years old, a goddess and a girl. Half her blood was human, but it counted for nothing. She was blue. She was godspawn. She was anathema. She was young. She was lovely. She was afraid."
When she meets Lazlo in a dream, he is the first person able to see her and communicate with her in this dream state. There is no insta-love, but a slow building of affection for each other. Their relationship was ethereal. They could not be together in a waking state, but in the dark of night, their souls met on the dream plane and fell in love with each other. It was pretty perfect, actually. In a horrible, completely not-perfect way. Of course, their relationship is doomed from the start. Sarai is locked in a citadel with no human on earth knowing she is still alive, save Strange the Dreamer. And Strange the Dreamer is locked out of the citadel because he is not blue-skinned. Sigh.
"They were so nearly unchanged, and yet that one thing-the color of their skin-would, in the real world, change everything."I absolutely loved this story. It was beautiful and haunting. Miss Taylor's writing, as always, is absolute madness. Her world is described with a strangeness and an affection that hints at so much more than meets the eye. If you just keep reading, you might find your strange childhood boogeyman in her worlds. I have come to find that I have no idea what to expect with this author, and I rather like it that way. As she says, "the dream picks the dreamer.." Enjoy lovelies <3
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