The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters

Book - 2006
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When her fiance sends her a note announcing that their engagement is terminated, Celeste Temple is determined to find out why. Adopting a disguise, she follows him to the forbidding Harschmort Manor and through a doorway into a terrifying conspiracy.
Publisher: New York : Bantam Books, 2006.
ISBN: 9780385340359
0385340354
Characteristics: 760 pages ;,25 cm.

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GeoffAbel Aug 18, 2012

Oh!Editor!Where are thou? A fantastically realized Victorian pseudo-steam punk epic that is only made into an epic by the grotesquely over-descriptive run-on sentences. This was obviously done for stylistic purposes - to be written in the style of the day - but still tiresome and just serves to derail what should be a brisk thriller. Give it a shot but bring a giant mug of patience.

spuddyvikingqueen Feb 07, 2012

I agree with the first comment completely.One of the BEST books I ever read.I LOVED it!!! Very well written,exciting,sexy,fascinating.

SB2000 Nov 17, 2011

This Gordon Dahlquist's first novel. A successful playwright, Dahlquist has conjured up a thrilling adventure set in an entirely plausible, well constructed alternative Victorian world.

And what a world it is! Part steam-punk (there is an airship: there are always airships in this genre!), part Kafkaesque mental (and physical) labyrinth, part thrilling tale of derring-do (think Conan-Doyle, Rider-Haggard), part voluptuous strip-tease, Dalquist takes the genres from the 19th and early 20th centuries and plays with them - and the reader - to pruduce a highly entertaining confection.

Through this world plunge three of the most unlikely and engaging heroes ever penned with dramatic results (including murder, physical and mental violence, last minute escapes, romance and the guilty libidinous pleasures that can only come with corsets, keyholes and Victorian bordellos).

In particular, the lead heroine, Miss Celeste Temple, is a compellingly drawn "plucky gentlewoman" type who we see not just from the point of view of the action but from her own internal monologue. Her confederates are a German Naval Surgeon (Abelard Svenson) and a professional assassin (Cardinal Chang - not a Chinese, who somewhat improbably wears a signature red leather long-coat).

All the characters are "types" but they are not merely card-board cut-outs. Dahlquist plays with charater types as he plays with genres. There is a wicked, amoral Italian Countess (complete with cigarette holder) and in-jokes pervade the text (for instance, Dr Abelard Svenson, the surgeon falls in love with an Eloise Du Jong for instance).

The action sees 10 chapters that are narrated from the points of view of the protagonists - often the plot is layered through these chapters and describe the same action from the differing physical and temporal points of view. This is done skillfully and creates and maintains the tension to carry the novel - and its many players - right to the end (and it is quite a long work).

The cabal's secret "process" manufactures "glass" that can capture and relay whole experiences and memories to a viewer - not just visually and aurally but using all of the senses, so the person using the glass is drawn in and experiences the whole episode as if they are the person captured in the glass. Adherents are also stripped of any moderating social mores so that they may indulge in their wildest ambitons / wishes without guilt in exchange for obedience. The cabal uses "goggles" that convert participants who claim to see matters "clearly" for the first time, even as the scarring from the "spectacles" fades from around their eyes.

Dahlquist uses this story to explore the uses and abuses of memory, the intoxicating danger of voyerism and the adiction of fantasy wish-fulfillment, the power - and the illusion - of fiction / literature and the similar illusions / power of moraility, social mores, character and identity. The glass books draw in and envelope a viewer in a complete world the way a good book draws in envelopes its reader.

A vaguely familiar steam-age state somewhere in northern Europe is unknowingly beset by a secret cabal determined to use the power of an occult-scientific process to not only control the world but to bring forth a perfect "super being".

Into this plot blunders the redoutable but self-centred Miss Temple who at the very beginning of the novel refuses to accept her unexplained rejection by her fiance and instead determines to follow him to learn the reason for this rejection (she suspects of course a rival). This act preciptates the whole course of the action and brings her - through various adventures into the company of Chang and Svenson and to a dramatic confrontation (and self-knowledge) as they attempt to bring down the cabal before it can bring the dastardly plot to fruition.

A cracker read!

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Brenda74 Nov 12, 2012

Brenda74 thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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