K.A. Wiggins's Reviews > Strange the Dreamer

Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
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it was amazing

There's a sort of alchemy to great storytelling, a mystical transformation that takes place with more than the sum of the parts.

Laini Taylor's language is beautiful. Her characters are compelling, all the truth of the archetypal without the dullness of a recycled trope. Her fantasy world-building is inspired, both language and settings rich and tangibly real. Her plot, something previous books, or rather, series, have stumbled slightly in, has all the weight of lifelike inevitability, but none of the dreary slog - the 500+ pages are a delight to read, and painful not to take in in a single sitting. But it's the combination of so many elements, executed with elegance and skill, that raises a story from an entertaining read to something truly marvellous.

One minor complaint amidst the praise; Taylor's done an excellent job of portraying a hero who stands on his own merits - one of which is not classically handsome good looks. A pity she couldn't have written a heroine to match. In that sense, too, this story seems almost written in homage to great fantasy and adventure classics, and I wouldn't mention it except that there does seem to have been some pains taken to reflect other of-the-moment movements in publishing, including an ethnically diverse cast with a sadly rare non-white hero, and a differently-abled/amputee and same-sex partnerships in secondary characters. While the storyline did call for love-at-first site, it would be great to see more stories in general where women and girls don't need to be lovely to be seen and loved - and the larger cast and story world do help somewhat to moderate things, with clear female leaders, scientists/engineers and warriors in-world.

Strange the Dreamer, first in a planned duology, has the timeless tone of great coming-of-age fantasies and epic adventures, begging comparisons to Neil Gaiman's Stardust and near pulp-fiction delights such as the early Indiana Jones films. A triumph of magic, romance and discovery, destined to become a favoured classic. Can't wait for the sequel.
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Reading Progress

January 10, 2017 – Shelved
January 10, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
June 1, 2017 – Started Reading
June 4, 2017 – Finished Reading

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