Today, we resume our read of Dreamland by K.M. Weiland. In these chapters, Allara’s icy exterior starts the crack just a little.
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After two weeks of training with Allara and Quinnon, Chris uses the orimere to bring over a basket of oranges and a vase of orchids for Allara, not so much as a peace offering but as a step toward friendship. While they begin the day’s lesson, Allara’s maid Lady Esta and a guardsman named Yemas inform her that the followers of Nateros are protesting again and that Steadman, their mouthpiece demands an audience. She grants it, but all Steadman wants to do is persuade Chris to join sides with them and to insult Allara. Chris punches Steadman square in the face when the man spits on her and is escorted out. Minutes later, they learn that Quinnon had no idea of what was going on, despite the fact that he was presumably told, and that he’s rather perturbed that she met with Steadman at all.
Reader Comments: Oh dear, Allara is surrounded by enemies she’s completely unaware of. I don’t know for certain, but Yemas is working against her as is Esta. We’ll see if my theory plays out, but I’m hoping for a wonderfully fun moment where Chris gets to save her life. Plus, their are some hints that Allara is starting to warm to Chris. I’m rubbing my hands in eagerness and satisfaction.
Writer Comments: One of the big things Weiland needs to do in this book is shift Allara, make her trust again. To do that, she must show Allara that Chris is very different from Harrison. This chapter is all about contrasts. Chris goes out of his way to show her kindness. Harrison has reeked selfishness from the beginning. Chris stands up for Allara in word and deed, even punching a man in the face to defend her honor. Harrison betrayed her. Contrasts are very important in fiction.
Allara is torn over Chris. Much as she fights to conceal her growing feelings of appreciation of him, she’s awkward an dares not reveal any of it to him. Oranges and orchids from another world, little acts of kindness, mean little because they don’t demonstrate a definite answer to that most pressing question: Can she really trust him?
A message from her father arrives, summoning them, and revealing that Koraud has declared war. Allara intends to leave at once to reach her father sometime near when he requests them. She tries to extend Chris kindness in allowing him to sleep until just before they must leave, but Quinnon warns her not to get tangled up with him. She has a job to keep him focused, and she dare not let that become compromised.
Reader Comments: I’m so looking forward to when Chris finally proves his loyalty and Allara really opens to him. Until then, I’m content to watch her squirm and anguish over how to deal with Chris. It’s such fun.
Writer Comments: Conflicts, mutually exclusive desires, they are the stuff of great stories. Allara is now full of conflicts and one big mutually exclusive tug-of-war between desires. On the one hand, she has a duty to Lael and the Gifted. She dares not lose her focus on making the Gifted into someone who can alter the world, hopefully in a positive way. Yet for so long she has been so lonely. Chris offers her things no one before ever managed: genuine kindness and, through his presence in her head, company she doesn’t mind having. These contrasts make her interesting in this chapter.
Allara and Chris arrive in Glen Arden at her father’s summons. There, Chris meets the king who is in no particular hurry to think anything spectacular of him. After all, the previous Gifted committed treachery, and the one before that wandered in the woods and spoke to birds. Chris can serve the war effort by helping keep up morale. Beyond that, he learns that they’ve found the people who might be the family his body in the dream world possesses.
Reader Comments: Oh, this could get interesting. What sorts of complications will this family bring to Chris? Will they look like the family he had in Chicago. Are, perhaps, his mother and sister alive in this world? One way or another, this is going to be interesting.
Writer Comments: Especially in fantasy, world building is crucial. Weiland piggybacks off of actual history to give the world of Lael a certain feel we readers are somewhat familiar with. However, to make it true fantasy and add to the excitement, she had to add her own details. Some of the more fascinating to me include the skycars, which whip across the land suspended from cables, and the guns with hydraulic mechanisms. No matter the setting, an author needs to incorporate unique and engaging details to give it life.