Review: Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor

Series: Strange the Dreamer #2
Published by: Hachette Australia
ISBN: 144478904X
ISBN 13: 9781444789041
Published: October 2018
Pages: 514
Format reviewed: eVersion (from NetGalley)
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Strange the Dreamer #1

We pick up from where the first book left off pretty well seamlessly, except for a brief introduction of the second set of characters that we start to follow in this book – Kora and Nova, twins. Their sections of this book expand infinitely on the world as it was before Lazlo and Sarai etc all exist – how Skathis was when he was younger, what other powers there are in existence, and how there is so much more to everything than we originally thought.

I want to keep this review free from spoilers, so it’ll be short.

For those who’ve read the first book we know we’re in a land of humans and godspawn (blue people who have powers, and whose parents turned the humans below them into slaves and concubines) who are all struggling to survive. Among the humans we have Lazlo who was an orphan and made his way into the Great Library of Zosma, and then to live among the survivors who want to get rid of the last vestiges of the godspawn (not knowing that a few children managed to survive in the towering palace that looms over them, cutting off all sunlight.)

Lazlo was once told that there are great people in the world who will achieve great things. And that there are also people who will help them achieve their greatness. He thought he’d be one of them – there to fetch and carry, and not say a word when others benefit from his grand work as it should be enough to know inside, you were a part of something great.

However, like any great story, it turns out that there was always something more to Lazlo than even he knew about himself.

Throughout this book we get to explore that, the boundaries and abilities of powers by those who hold them, but are still always learning more about themselves too – which is excellent. So often in books you see people with powers and that’s it. In this we get to see them try new things and hope, as, after all, none of them really had anyone left to show them how.

We see a lot of anguish in these characters, and how they need to either come to terms with the poor hands they’ve been dealt or lose themselves to their anger and vengeance.

There are a massive amount of characters in this series and yet they’re all developed, and pulsing with their own lives and manners, and all could easily pull off their own series of their own.

We were told this was to be a duology, and yes, the story could end here. There’s an image at the start and end of the book in what one can only assume are in two of the many languages we hear of in these books – and though I’ve translated them (and happy to share somewhere I won’t spoil anyone who wants to figure them out for themselves), it’s still not enough. I want there to be so much more! Surely Sarai and Lazlo will find the certain someone with that certain gift, and then their story together (although already well on its way) can really take off.

(And I need to see what happens next to Thyon and Ruza! Come on!)

(And what happens to Lazlo. Cough.)

(And who else they find.)

(And what Minya and Kiska eventually talk about.)

(And just, everything!)

Review: Strange The Dreamer by Laini Taylor

strangethdreamerlainiSeries: Strange the Dreamer #1
Published by: Hachette Australia
ISBN: 1444788981
ISBN 13: 9781444788983
Published: March 2017
Pages: 432
Format reviewed: Paperback (with Laini’s signature!)
Site: Author Site
Goodreads: Book Page
Stars: Five out of Five
Lists: Favourites and Recommended
Related Reviews: Strange the Dreamer #2

Lazlo Strange is an orphan, raised by monks initially and then in the Great Library of Zosma where he journeyed once to make a delivery and never left. Able to read three dead languages thanks to his time in the monastery, he’s taken on as an apprentice where he is able to turn his obsession of a long-forgotten city into the most extensive history in existence. Pieced together by tales once told to him by a senile monk, and any scrap of paper he manages to turn up in the library, he writes his own series of journals correlating any bit of information he can about the Unseen City, also known as Weep, as the name was stolen from the minds of everyone by what Lazlo can only assume is magic. This is until, one day, the golden prince Thyon Nero takes his life’s work from him for his own study. Just in the nick of time, as warriors and royals from the long-lost city arrive on their doorstep. And ask for their help.

Lazlo is now twenty years old and though he is told that there are people who do great things – and people who help these people achieve that (someone has to fetch them tea and run errands after all), he can’t help but beg the warriors to let him go back with them. He isn’t one of the world’s greatest minds, like the rest of the troupe the lost world are collecting – to try and solve their great mystery – but he’s desperate, and will do utterly anything they need him to do, if he can only join them. In this he earns an enemy in Thyon Nero, but in reward he gets to see his life’s obsession.

The book is massive. My copy (uncorrected proof) is well over 500 pages, and it’s such a good thing that I had the end of year holidays to read it because I really couldn’t have gone to work the next day and not be able to read it – it’s such a spell-bounding, fantastical, amazing book that it completely takes over your senses. Taylor has such an effortless way with words (that I’m sure take her an agonising long time to put together), that show such history or depth of character or place or event that you see so much in such a short paragraph. There are countless examples of perfect paragraphs in the book that although I’m not the kind to want to mark a book, I almost want to lovingly highlight the best of the best. There’s a paragraph, where Lazlo is bereft, where she likens his body to that of an hourglass – made of flesh and bone sure, but it was so perfectly put you could feel the sense of drifting morose, and of such a deep depression that she was able to give a perfect summary of what I (and I suppose many people) have felt at some stage in their life – and one that I’d always failed to describe.

The sense of history in this book could easily take three in the hands of a lesser author. We’re given an amazing place that’s cut off from the rest of an equally fantastic world, and Taylor handles the mix of languages effortlessly. If one could ask for anything more, perhaps it would have been nice to see more of different cultures, but I feel that we see much of the Unseen City in their food, and tattoos, and temples.

The characters are what drives this novel. Lazlo Strange is a beautiful creation. He’s thoughtful and considerate – known to be a dreamer, after all, as it says in the title – but he’s also strong and filled with such a great sense of what is right that you can only then realise how few characters we see like him. When he hears hatred for a race he immediately speaks up for their defence even though he’s in the vast majority, and when they retort he still doesn’t back down, he asks them to reconsider, and to try harder to see the good in people. It’s wonderful.

Sarai, a character I don’t want to explain too much and ruin the build-up, is an excellently complex character who simply wants. She is at war with herself because of her creation and what she’s been left with, as well as her parentage and her foster-siblings. She, like Lazlo, in determined to do what is right no matter how hard it is, or what the recompense may be.

This book is beyond beautiful. Taylor gives us characters that one can only crave will exist someday, in reality. It would almost be an unhealthy obsession, waiting and wishing for a Lazlo to appear someday. Ahem. The plot in this book is well handled, with some parts passing in a paragraph, and some nights taking chapters to pass and even then it’s all too quick (though not in a bad way. You’ll see what I mean when you read it.)

This is apparently set to be a duology. I’m not worried, as there was so much in this book that I know the reader will be more than satisfied, but it’s also so utterly brilliant I already don’t know what I’ll do when there’s not going to be anything new of these characters some day. Very well ahead of myself I know, as the first book doesn’t even come out in bookstores until March 2017, and yet… it’s all so brilliant I never want it to be over.