I hope everyone had a good Mother’s Day and a great weekend.
Welcome back to our read of Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland. When last we left Chris Redston, the man who can cross between our world and the world of dream, he had taken his place as the Gifted, sort of. He doesn’t want the honor, and he’s first on everyone’s list to acquire, including Rotoss, a brutal military leader who wants nothing more than to resurrect his dead leader, Mactalde. Only Chris with help from the Orimere, a magical stone, can bring Mactalde back into the dream world, but to do that might bring horrendous disaster.
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After Orias rides off to fight for his people, the Cherazii, Chris races after on his lumbering pony with little idea how to defend himself or what to expect. He encounters Koraudian soldiers and survives only because Orias yells for them to stop moments before they plunge swords into Chris’s heart. Rotoss tells Chris that the way to stop the dreams is to use the Orimere to bring back Mactalde. Pitch insists that this is the worst thing Chris can do, but Orias encourages Chris and declares that doing so will save his people. In the end, despite his doubts, Chris agrees. After all, none of it is real. It’s all just a twisted, insane figment of his warped mind. No one will really get hurt.
Reader Comments: No, Chris! Don’t do it! Hmm, that line might be a forming pattern response to this book. I totally understand why Chris is making this decision, but I want to throttle him. At the very least, it should make for an interesting plot. Allara is going to kill him when she finally finds him.
Writer Comments: Chapter endings are very important. They must end in such a way that it encourages the reader to keep reading. This is the last line of chapter ten, “As his head sank back to the ground, he caught one last glimpse of Orias’s face. The pale white of his skin blurred and ran like wet paint.” This chapter does not conclude on some epic action scene or a literal hanging over the cliff. Rather, it concludes with a disturbing and haunting image and the knowledge that the hero is making a terrible mistake. Overall, the encouragement to read on comes from the desperate hope that Chris will realize his error and fix it.
But it’s this last image that, for me, most captivates. We know that Orias’s face is not literally running. This illusion is because of the knockout drug Rotoss gives Chris so that he can sleep and bring back Mactalde. However, the image is filled with implications. It’s distorted and disturbed like what’s happened in the book, but further, it implies an undercurrent of emotion to Orias that Chris glimpses at the last moment. For all Orias is working against all he knows is right and good to save his people, inside, he grieves for what he is unleashing upon the world, and that pain drives us into the next chapter along with our concern over Chris’s decisions.
Chris wakes in an opulent home on the shore of Lake Michigan with a pounding headache. It was all a dream. He says as much until he sees that the clothes he wore in that dream and the Orimere are with him in the real world. A Dr. Mactalde, Harrison’s therapist, enters and offers his aid and sympathies. He can help the dreams go away. After all, Harrison and Chris share the same delusions. Chris hesitates, but he has to talk to someone. He has to keep from going insane. Mactalde suggests that, however bizarre it may seem, the simplest way to get past the delusion is to satisfy what his brain desire. If it says he must bring the doctor into this dream world, they can pretend, and perhaps it will be enough to release Chris from the nightmares. Chris does so, and just as he’s falling asleep begins to wonder if, perhaps, this is not a good idea after all.
Reader Comments: Mactalde is scum. He reeks of manipulation and I hope he suffers tremendously. Weiland does a great job of characterizing him in this chapter. I cannot wait to see him defeated. I sure hope Chris realizes quickly his error and fixes it.
Writer Comments: Oftentimes the best thing to do in a story is the worst possible thing. What is the worst possible thing Chris can do? Bring Mactalde into the dream world. Yet he does just that. Weiland makes it work because she gives Chris a lot of sympathy, and even while we scream at him to stop, we understand why he makes the choices he makes. After all, were we in that position, we too would want to grasp at anything to end the nightmares and keep from going crazy. Once the worst happens, the stakes are high enough to create a tale of truly epic proportions.
Chris wakes again in the dream world, and this time, Mactalde is there too. It worked, all of it, and Chris now no longer can insist that it isn’t real. Realizing he’s been betrayed, he refuses to join forces with Mactalde, but the Cherazii will kill him the second they have a chance. The only one who believes anything good of him is Pitch, his Riever captor, who believes that, somehow, Chris will make it right.
Reader Comments: For that alone, Pitch is an awesome character. Pure and simple faith in goodness is a precious gift. Perhaps Pitch has it because he has nothing else left, but it’s still endearing.
Writer Comments: Weiland has just had Chris bring about the worst possible circumstances. Mactalde will now march on the people of Lael with vengeance and the eye of a conqueror. I shudder to think what the death toll will be by the end. Plus, Chris is likely to die in the very near future, and if Allara finds him before his imminent demise, she’s likely to figuratively kill him as well. What hope is there? There is one hope, and Weiland, after ripping the ground out from under our and Chris’s feet, kindly gives it to us in the words of Pitch. Perhaps, somehow despite all odds, Chris’s good heart will find a way to make things right. We know Chris has a good heart after seeing him in earlier chapters, and so, with that glimmer of hope against horrendous odds, we read on to see how Chris can possibly turn this around. When, as a writer, you shove the biggest bolder of the cliff to crush the heroes, make certain that, before it’s over, the readers see that glimmer of hope.