Strange the Dreamer – Laini Taylor

Published March 2017

‘Names may be lost or forgotten. No one knew that better than Lazlo Strange. He’d had another name first, but it had died like a song with no one left to sing it.’

For Lazlo Strange names are important. Robbed of his original and bought up an orphan, identified as such through the familial title ‘Strange’ and the first name of a monks tongueless uncle, Lazlo knows very little about who he is. What he does know is that for as long as he can remember, he has been fascinated by the mysterious city across the desert, the fabled city of Weep. But Weep has not always been Weep, and Lazlo alone seems to be the only one that remembers its original name being plucked from his head.

With the first part of the book following Lazlo’s ascent into ‘dreamer’ status, the reader is introduced to other characters key to the story in an unobtrusive fashion, including the antihero Thyon Nero who seems to exist to antagonise Lazlo but also bring out his best characteristics.

The God Spawn are also introduced – the offspring of the rape of the young denizens of Weep by the very Gods themselves. Or at least by those who act as Gods. Sarai, Ruby, Sparrow, Feral and Minya are the last surviving offspring of these pairings, and each one has a gift. They are also bright blue. Imprisoned in their floating citadel, suspended over Weep, the citizens unaware of their presence but fearing their home, the Godspawn live part lives awaiting discovery or death.

To some extent this is where the story really begins. A party of individuals, including Lazlo Strange, is created by the God Slayer to solve the problem of the floating citadel and restore Weep its sky. Yet the citizens do not know about the gifted teenagers in that metal prison, and it is an especial shock to Lazlo when he meets Sarai in his dreams. To say anything more would be to spoil the story completely – but I cannot encourage the reading of it enough. Some books lodge in your mind and make a small corner their home, never to quite leave, and this is one of those.

As per her other books, Taylor’s writing is the perfect blend of poetic description and skilful storytelling that appears her trademark. I know no one else that writes quite so beautifully, and perhaps Taylor herself should wear the moniker of ‘dreamer’, as it is an accurate description for the quality her work possesses. I cannot wait for Muse of Nightmares, and as it launches in the UK tomorrow, I cannot think of a more appropriate time to look back at Strange the Dreamer.

As mentioned previously, names are important things. The following idea particularly struck home:

‘What if it works, but my terrors come, too?’

Lazlo shrugged. ‘We’ll chase them away, or else turn them into fireflies and catch them in jars.’

Hence the name of the blog. Writing terrifies me – it has done since being told that my writing style was not academic enough whilst at University. Ironically my dissertation tutor pointed out that I would be better suited to blogging or journalism rather than academia, but that doesn’t make this any less scary. But at the same time I have suddenly become unemployed in a very crappy way, left without a source of income for the first time in a decade, and apparently that is far more terrifying than writing. In fact, it is so terrifying that writing about things I like seems a good form of escapism. So this is something for me to channel my energy into (apart from the endless job applications) and to focus on. A goal, if you will. This blog is very much going to act as my jar, and each single post will be a firefly, reminding me that I can overcome situations and that there are things in life that I love, that bring me hope, happiness and peace. Massive thanks goes to Stephen @mywickedwords www.wickedwords.co.uk who offered a blog as a prize, and in doing so started this whole escapade off.