DiscoverFantasy

Dreams of the Dying

By

Loved it! 😍

Great heavy fantasy with deep political intrigue and tension. Pick it up!

Synopsis

Years after a harrowing war experience, ex-mercenary Jespar Dal’Varek has taken to drifting. It’s a lonely existence, but barring the occasional bout of melancholia, he has found the closest thing to peace a man like him deserves. Life is “all right.”

Or so he tells himself. Hoping to turn the page, Jespar accepts a mysterious invitation into the beautiful but dangerous archipelago of Kilay—and everything changes. Plagued by boiling social tensions and terrorism, the tropical empire is edging ever closer to civil war. Kilay’s merchant king may be the only one able to prevent this catastrophe, but he has fallen into a preternatural coma—and it’s Jespar’s job to figure out who or what caused it. As the investigation takes him across the archipelago and into the king’s nightmares, unexpected events not only tie Jespar’s own life to the mystery but also unearth inner demons he believed to be long exorcised.

Battling old trauma while fighting for his life, his sanity, and the fate of Kilay, the line between dream and reality blurs further and further, until only one question remains: If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

Disclaimer: I have never played the game to which this book is a prequel to but I can confirm this book is definitely still readable without having played it and that doesn't affect the enjoyment at all so don't let that put you off picking up this story!


We follow our protagonist Jespar Dal'Varek who is someone who is never in one place for too long but receives a job offer which means he must travel to a place known as Kilay where he quickly comes to realise has high tension due to the rise of terrorism against the politics of the area. This is where it began wrong for me, I am not someone who is very good at politics in books, I struggle to grasp it and understand the reasons behind it but this author did do a good job at making it as simple to understand as I think could be possible for such a long high fantasy novel.


The world building in this novel was the second best part, after the characters. This world is so well described and nothing like I have read before and I loved reading about Kilay and how amazing the setting is. Of course a lot of world building would be needed in a place with such high tension and problems but I still didn't expect it to be as good as it was. It was very easy to lose yourself in the book and it felt like I was there beside the character throughout the novel, experiencing everything with them.


The best part as I said are the characters, they come with a lot of depth which I love in a world that is also strong in world building as it is usually one or the other but rarely both. I really enjoyed following our protagonist but also all the side characters who were a big part of this story. The villain of the story is so well fleshed out it was impossible not to love them even though they were who you were supposed to be against.


Trigger warnings for suicide in this novel as there are a lot of discussions around mental health and struggling with things. This is handled really well and respectfully. Depression is never glorified but instead discussed logically and with upmost respect and I enjoyed reading about the character struggles to such a deep level.

Reviewed by

I am a booktuber who enjoys a WIDE range of genres and loves discussing books on my channel. I have had a main focus on self published, indie authors due to wanting to expand my reading beyond those with the large marketing budgets from huge publishing companies!

Synopsis

Years after a harrowing war experience, ex-mercenary Jespar Dal’Varek has taken to drifting. It’s a lonely existence, but barring the occasional bout of melancholia, he has found the closest thing to peace a man like him deserves. Life is “all right.”

Or so he tells himself. Hoping to turn the page, Jespar accepts a mysterious invitation into the beautiful but dangerous archipelago of Kilay—and everything changes. Plagued by boiling social tensions and terrorism, the tropical empire is edging ever closer to civil war. Kilay’s merchant king may be the only one able to prevent this catastrophe, but he has fallen into a preternatural coma—and it’s Jespar’s job to figure out who or what caused it. As the investigation takes him across the archipelago and into the king’s nightmares, unexpected events not only tie Jespar’s own life to the mystery but also unearth inner demons he believed to be long exorcised.

Battling old trauma while fighting for his life, his sanity, and the fate of Kilay, the line between dream and reality blurs further and further, until only one question remains: If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

But My Judgment Is

The mind is a malleable thing. Soil, if you’re feeling poetic. Depending on the seed, anything will grow in it, from graceful gardens to idyllic meadows, from weedy forests to foggy swamps. Harmonious or chaotic, peaceful or perilous, healthy or ill. I—it’s all a matter of seeds.

That’s why Jespar’s mind reacted the way it did—quite frankly, in a manner no one would consider sane—when the Corpse found him in the museum of taxidermic animals. Jespar felt nothing. Not when the Corpse came limping out of that dark aisle with his burning hands drawing flickering shadows across the animal exhibits around him. Not when he eased down on the pedestal of the one across Jespar, —a giant centipede, its legs unfurling behind the Corpse like a halo of thorns. Not when his lips split in a smile.

No fear, no horror, no panic.

The mind is a malleable thing.

The Corpse clasped his hands between his knees and leaned in. Even now, three years after they first met in Jespar’s nightmares, his smile looked so different from that of the dead man he represented. Once, it had been cold and ashamed, the kind reserved for a prodigal son. Now, it was warm and mournful, that of a man sitting at an old friend’s deathbed.

“Did you truly think he could keep you safe?”

“You’re not here,” Jespar said. “You’re not real.”

The corner of the Corpse’s lips lifted ever so slightly. “You are right, boy, I am not. But when did that ever matter? Our minds shape reality ... that is why superstitious peasants burn witches, jealous lovers murder their beloved, and lonely veterans put nooses around their necks. Now, tell me, did you really believe it? That the boy could keep us away forever?”

Jespar groped for his brandy flask and took a deep swallow. It stung, but he barely felt it. “Not real.”

“So you did. Hm. I thought you knew better.” The Corpse closed his eyes and sighed, circling a burning thumb over the bloody lotus flower carved into his forehead. Flames licked at his greasy hair but didn’t spread. “It is such a tragedy, you know? None of this would have ever happened had you not refused to see. Sixteen years, boy, sixteen years, and here you are, still choosing to be blind. Then again, I suppose it is only human, isn’t it? To prefer ignorance over uncomfortable truths.?”

Jespar felt the Pull coming now, that cold pulse beating its way up from the depths of his mind. He killed the rest of his brandy, his head spinning from the packed punch of booze, fear, and utter exhaustion.

“Fine, ignore me if you must. I only want you to know that I never wished for things to end like this. You had your chance to stop it, your chance to see, but you squandered it. Now live with the consequences.”

The Corpse stood. The Pull was almost there now, each beat sending chills into his bones as a blue veil closed over the world.

“You’re not real,” Jespar whispered.

“Maybe not,” the Corpse replied. “But my judgment is.”

About the author

I’m a German author best known for my writing for the indie videogame “Enderal – Forgotten Stories,” which quickly went from underground success to sleeper hit. "Dreams of the Dying" is my debut novel, set in the world of Enderal but requiring no knowledge of the game to be enjoyed. view profile

Published on December 01, 2020

Published by

200000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Fantasy

Reviewed by