Wednesday, 10 November 2010

The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters


A Spy. A Killer. An Imposter.
Three extraordinary heroes, one very unique novel.
In The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters three most unlikely but nevertheless extraordinary heroes become inadvertently involved in the diabolical machinations of a cabal bent upon enslaving thousands through a devilish ‘process’.
Miss Temple is a feisty young woman with corkscrew curls who wishes only to learn why her fiancĂ© Roger broke off their engagement…
Cardinal Chang was asked to kill a man, but finding his quarry already dead he is determined to learn who beat him to it and why…
And Dr Svenson is chaperone to a dissolute Prince who has become involved with some most unsavoury individuals…
An adventure like no other, in a mysterious city few have travelled to, featuring a heroine and two heroes you will never ever forget... this is The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters.

Dahlquist's debut novel has become, perhaps justifiably, notorious for the huge amount of money he was advanced on it ($2,000,000) which, to nobodies surprise, it singularly failed to recoup upon publication.
It's a shame as it's not the authors fault, the book itself is very good, but someone at the publishers really should have taken a step back and wondered if a fairly cerebral steampunk novel was ever going to generate that sort of return.

Glass Books is a sumptuously written experience that follows it's 3 very different protagonists, heiress Celeste Temple, assassin Cardinal Chang & doctor Captain-Surgeon Abelard Svenson, as they attempt to make sense of the conspiracy they find themselves embroiled in.

The books themselves are sheets of chemically engineered blue glass that can pull the thoughts from the mind of anyone looking inton it and then replay these stolen experiences (in the first person) to other observers. The creators of this wonderous glass are a cabal of deliciously old fashioned villianous cads and n'er-do-wells who are using them to convert, pervert, infiltrate and control the government of the, German-esque, duchy of Macklenburg. Our heroes, through a variety of unlikely means find themselves at loggerheads with the cabal and in an unlikely union with each other as they attempt to take them down.

As a reader I found the core triumverate to be a mixed bunch. Cardinal Chang I could happily read about all day long. His deliciously cold take on the world was a joy to experience. Svenson is a pompous bore but his unshakeable sense of duty gives his chapters a compulsion and he is a likeable enough pompous bore. Miss Temple though is a spoilt horror and in a way that she would utterly approve of she holds the lion share of the readers attention. She is the least interesting of the characters though and the one which I personally invested the smallest amount of emotional attachment in.

The book is written from the, chapter long, perspectives of each of the three mains in turn. whilst this does give a ridiculously thorough overview of the plot and the action it does result in a lot of repetition which does become slightly tiresome although the pace keeps this from becoming too large an issue.

The book ends on an open note - and indeed there is a sequel which I'll come to another time - so it's not the most satisfying on conclusions but the ride getting there is fun and fairly furious with a nice sense of time and place. It's slightly cerebral nature means it's not going to be for everyone but if you can get through the opening chapter then I think, like me, you'll enjoy the rest of the ride.