“He looked him right in the eyes and saw a man who was great and good and human, who had done extraordinary things and terrible things and been broken and reassembled as a shell, only then to do the bravest thing of all: He had kept on living, though there are easier paths to take.”
Strange the Dreamer (Strange the Dreamer #1) by Laini Taylor. I have put this book off for months. Since it came out people have been gushing over it left and right and I scoffed in disbelief. I just assumed that it was another over hyped book that didn’t deserve the positivity it was receiving. So, I put it off and put it off and put it off. Finally, Laini announced that the audiobook for Strange the Dreamer was on a great sale through Audible. What the hell? I decided. I was already in a reading funk, why not give it a shot, right?
Then, I dove into the world of Lazlo Strange, the orphan and junior librarian, and it got its claws in me and didn’t want to let go.
The world that Taylor painted in this book is so magical, I absolutely could not get enough. The story begins with our dear little Lazlo being raised as an orphan by monks. A war had broken out around the time he was born and many children had been left without families and the monks had taken them. He was a plain boy with perhaps a bit much of an imagination for the monks. One day, he gets sent on an errand by the monks to the massive library in the city. There, Lazlo falls in love. He falls for the books and stories that they contain. There, he also begins to learn about Weep.
Weep is a city that was once known for its goods and learning. It’s travelers went to distant towns and cities to trade their goods but no one was ever welcomed in their city. Anyone who went there was killed. But Weep fell off the map over 200 years ago and no one has heard from them since. Not until a group of warriors from Weep travel to the city, asking for people to help them with a problem. A problem that they refuse to explain.
Guys, without giving much of anything away to those who haven’t read this yet, I will say that pretty much everything that follows that point is amazing. Fantastical adventure, artfully crafted magical elements, beautifully written character interaction…it is just beautiful. I’ll be the first to stand up and say that I intensely disliked Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone so I truly was not expecting a lot out of this story, but I fell in love.
There are two points in this book that didn’t settle well with me that I would like bring up. One, there is a romance in it that pretty much overpowers anything else in the second half of the book. It was sweet for a chapter or two but I got sick of it pretty quickly. The point of the romance could have been made in far less time, and it did have a point. That is my pet peeve about romance in fantasy, it has to have a purpose and not just be filler, and Taylor did do that well but it became overkill after a while.
Secondly, when someone is painted as a bad or evil character I think that they should also have relate-able or redeeming qualities. If they are presented as pure evil and given no redeeming characteristics then they are boring. Our so called evil doer in this book had a terrible personality, just a whiny little shit that needed someone to give them a good slap and told to stop being such a bitch.
I haven’t read many reviews of this book because I don’t like to spoil a potentially good plot line so I’m not sure if anyone shares my sentiments on the two negatives. However, despite those two major points, the rest of the book is completely excellent.
This was actually the first book that I read as an audiobook and I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed it. On behalf of the voice actor for this work, I must say that he was fantastic. His tone and the lyrical quality of his voice were absolutely superb. There are enough odd words and names in it that I’m sure I could have made it through a physical copy. Too many difficult to remember names and concepts and it is hard to follow the story. It was very simple to keep things straight listening to this book, though. I highly recommend indulging in it in this manner.
LW’s rating – 4.5/5
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