Strange the Dreamer (2017) by Laini Taylor is ‘beautiful and full of monsters’. It’s been a while since I read a fantasy novel, which is one of my favourite genres and this was one of the best reminders of all the reasons why I love it. This book is about stern monks, blue-skinned gods, a trekk across the desert, love and magic.
“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.”
Taylor’s writing is gorgeous. She measures time in horizons, thinkers in shades. The book was so good that I just want to quote the entire thing. I absolutely just want to present you all with a list of quotes because I just can’t choose.
“Forbid a man something and he craves it like his soul’s salvation, all the more so when that something is the source of incomparable riches.”
Since my two biggest habits are reading stories and dreaming with my head in the clouds and this is a book that glorifies both, it’s no surprise really that I just want to crawl inside its pages and live forever in Lazlo’s arms.
A strange man from a long lost city comes into town to recruit an ensemble of scholars, builders and thieves to help him solve a mysterious problem. Thus the characters feature a motley crew that reminds me of the bunch in Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001). Actually, now that I think about it there are quite a few similarities, a heroine in blue (or a blue heroine) trapped in an isolated, magical location submerged in legend, the bookish, underestimated and unconventionally handsome protagonist, demolitions experts, mechanics and a long journey.
We are certainly no strangers to beautiful blue women from far-off lands. Re: Avatar (2009).
“On the occasions that he did look up from the page, he would seem as though he were awakening from a dream”.
This book has so many layers to it. It shows us how so much of how we see ourselves and how we act is based on how others perceive and treat us.
” “Life won’t just happen to you, boy,” he said. “You have to happen to it. Remember: The spirit grows sluggish when you neglect the passions.” “
“They were just flesh and spirit and youth and magic and hunger and yes, saliva, all bottled up with nowhere to go”
It’s also littered with morals. The importance of Doing The Right Thing. It also brings up how hate only incurs more hate (similar to the evil begets evil motto in Gyasi’s Homegoing).
“If the dream chose the dreamer, then his had chosen poorly. It needed someone far more daring than he. It needed the thunder and the avalanche, the war cry and the whirlwind. It needed fire.”
“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”
“But the dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around”
“What’s the point of being old if you can’t beleaguer the young with your vast stores of wisdom?
And what’s the point of being young if you can’t ignore all advice?”
“And 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.”
” “You think good people can’t hate?” she asked. “You think good people don’t kill?” Her breathing hitched, and she realized she’d crushed Lazlo’s flower in her hand. She dropped the petals into the water. “Good people do all the things bad people do, Lazlo. It’s just that when they do them, they call it justice.” ”
“Few will ever witness an act destined to become legend. How does it happen, that the events of a day, or a night—or a life—are translated into story? There is a gap in between, where awe has carved a space that words have yet to fill”
“Sometimes a moment is so remarkable that it carves out a space in time and spins there, while the world rushes on around it. This was one such”
” Like…spells printed on dragonfly wings, discovered tucked inside a cookery book, right between the recipes for cabbages and corn. That’s what a kiss is like, he thought, no matter how brief: It’s a tiny, magical story, and a miraculous interruption of the mundane.”