Welcome back to Monday reads where we go over a book for writing tips and general entertainment. We’re continuing with Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland, a tale where Chris Redston, a man who can cross the worlds, must save them from ripping apart because of his mistake.
To catch up or review previous parts of this read or to see reads of other books, click here.
Chris, Allara, and their party reach the capital of Lael, but the city is so full, they choose a more roundabout way to reach the palace. Part of that way is by foot through the city. They pass a crowd wound tight with the words of Steadman, a cult speaker who claims that Allara is a witch who forces men/the Gifted across the worlds. The crowd realizes Allara and Chris are there and chase them to the taxi boats.
Reader Comments: Ah, this is lovely stuff. Allara is still struggling with a concussion, they’re all exhausted, one of her guards betrays her, and they have a mob on their heels. The complications and threats just keep mounting. It’s a delicious brew sure to result in harrowing moments and raw heroism.
Writer Comments: One could make the argument that this subplot of the people who hate Allara and the Gifted is unnecessary. So far, by this point, it honestly isn’t crucial to the main plot of the book. However, it adds richness and depth. It also adds realism. After all, no royal family rules without some opposition. In some genres, this sort of subplot might be best cut out, but this is epic fantasy. Epic fantasy caters to the complex, the harrowing, and the richness of new worlds spun into life. Know the genre you’re writing for and its conventions. What’s allowed in one genre will not be allowed or reluctantly so in another.
Chris goes to visit his family in the dreamworld. They draw from him an explanation of what happened in the other world, that his mother and sister died and his father became a drunk and functionally abandoned him and his other sister. HIs dreamworld father asks him to forgive him, all of him. Chris promises that he’ll try, and his father asks to come with him to Ballion and the front where the king faces off with Mactalde the next morning.
Reader Comments: This whole thing of the two fathers Chris has brings up all sorts of interesting questions. What would each of us be like if one big thing was different in our lives? What if it was several small things? How different would we each be? Would our choices be better or more destructive?
Writer Comments: A good story should engage on many levels: emotional, that sense of awe, and intellectually. A good story should make us think as well as stop our hearts with fear or love or wonder. Here, Weiland engages that intellectual part of storytelling. She challenges her readers to consider the impact of our decisions and how utterly they can change our lives and those around us. It’s an uncomfortable thought but one heavy with truths.
Chris returns to the palace after visiting his family and goes in search of Allara. Rumors that Allara has betrayed Lael are spreading like wildfire and stirring the city to flames. Chris finally finds her out on a balcony, her shields down just a little. He professes ardently that she isn’t a traitor and nearly kisses her, but stops only with a single caress to brush her hair behind her ear. Quinnon finds them and demands from Chris anything that Chris might have left out about bringing over Mactalde because, in his mind, something isn’t adding up. Then he threatens to break Chris’s back if Chris hurts Allara.
Reader Comments: Things are really beginning to boil. I have a feeling they’re going to explode before long. I love that Allara is trusting Chris now. She’s even trusting him enough not to demand she accompany him to Ballion, even with her concussion. A quarter of a book earlier, she would demand to be at his side even missing half her body.
Writer Comments: Sometimes making things big, blowing them up, and making them dramatic is what’s needed in a story. Other times, making them subtle and small is more impactful. In the hands of a lot of authors, the confession of love that Chris gives in this scene and the tension could easily build to a sex scene or, at the very least, a kiss. But all this amounts to is a single caress which is more tantalizing and poignant, more representative of the characters than anything else. Small and subtle can be just as powerful as large and dramatic.