Chris Redston is having dreams. What he is only beginning to realise is that our dreams are much more than we thought. Now he finds himself living in two worlds. His dreams are actually another life lived out in a world called Lael. As a ‘gifted’, he is able to retain memory of that other life when he wakes in this one.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book on a number of different levels. At first glance, the premise of this story sounded a lot like The Circle Series by Ted Dekker (which I loved), and while there are certain similarities, the world and plot are very different.
There are almost two-intertwined plots going on here, one in each world. Each was as compelling as the other, but ultimately both were all connected. It was the interplay between these two worlds that brought about a lot of the fun in Dreamlander. I don’t want to give anything away, but this interplay led to a very cool scene at one point in the novel where characters needed to get to the other side of the country in a hurry.
The setting of Dreamlander makes it one of the most unique fantasies I have read. In addition to the standard fare of castles, horses and swords, we have a little technology that I would normally consider out of place in a fantasy world – but given the actual story being told here it really works. From hydraulic pistols to steam-driven cable cars, this felt like a fresh and creative world – one running parallel to our own. I found myself wanting to spend time in Lael in my own dreams. Who knows – maybe I do!
Another interesting aspect of the setting was the various species that inhabited it. There were humans, Cherazim, Reivers and the mysterious Garowai. The creation of these new species helped the story to stand on its own in way that I don’t think would have worked as nicely if the author had simply used Elves and Dwarves.
I found myself getting emotionally invested in the characters, and particularly in the relationships between them. Chris himself was a very relatable hero. He was a flawed character who made mistakes. His desire to set things right was at the heart of the story, and was what made him a hero in my eyes.
The people in this story are not simply good or bad. There’s a lot of grey. Heros are not always apreciated and villains are not always opposed. Another deeply-flawed character that kept me guessing was Orias Tarn. There were times when I was angry at him for his actions, and others when I felt compassion for him in his plight.
I enjoyed the developing relationship between Chris and Allara, as they slowly moved from antagonistic strangers to allies, then friends. I found myself eager to find out if they might become more than friends. (if you want to know whether they do, you’ll just have to read the book). The relationship between Chris and his father was also a favourite, and I enjoyed seeing how it played out. At one point, I found myself holding a personal grudge against one well-intentioned but ultimately troublesome character who caused a lot of difficulty for Chris.
There are a bunch of themes running through this book. I think the main one would be redemption and rehabilitation. We all make mistakes, but does that forever leave us with no choice but to continue down the dark path? Can we ever escape the consequences of our past? I also found a number of subtle analogies in the story that resonated with me spiritually. You will find these if you look for them.
The end of the book brought out lots of different emotions in me. Again, no spoilers, but I found myself yelling “no, don’t do it!” to the author one minute, and smiling warmly the next. It was a roller-coaster. Ultimately, the book left me satisfied, but still wishing I could spend more time with this world and characters. Isn’t that what every writer (and reader) wants?
If you like great world-building, relatable characters and compelling plots be sure to read Dreamlander.
I received a free advanced review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
If you missed it before, I recently shared the Dreamlander Trailer.