Welcome back to this read of Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland where we summarize a great book and pick up writing tips using Weiland as an example. When last we left Chris and Allara, they had lost practically everything. Chris went to the Cherazii for help and found them less than willing. Meanwhile, all that’s left of his small army, Allara, and the Lael refugees await Mactalde’s ruthless mercy, a mercy that lost them their king the day before.
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When Chris does not return in time, to save themselves, the Laelers turn Allara over to Mactalde. He proclaims that the people must turn over the Gifted at the gates of Reon Couteau in 48 hours, or they all die. When Chris returns and learns this, he is torn and tortured. How can he now blow up Reon Couteau and thus kill Allara? How can he not and let the worlds break and everyone die? Difficult as it is, he chooses the one path he knows Allara would want, the only right choice left: to blow up Reon Couteau with Mactalde inside even though it means killing the woman he loves.
Reader Comments: Oh, this is gloriously wonderful. I love it when a hero must face such awful choices. I know it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I like to see how a hero responds. I like to see if he choose what’s right over what’s easy. I enjoy the exploration of the gray.
Writer Comments: The road to victory in fiction should never be easy. Easy equals unsatisfying. Dreamlander is a great example of that truth.
Back in Chicago, Chris calls his friend Mike to take him to Harrison’s, but before he can get in Mike’s car, Kaufman, the second of Mactalde’s hit men, comes after him. They flee down Chicago’s streets with Kaufman chasing them in his truck and shooting. At Harrison’s, they barricade themselves inside. Chris finds the trap door and explosives Harrison hid there. Then, as Kaufman is about to break into the house and the cops engage him in a firefight, Chris grasps the Orimere and explosives and asks Mike to knock him out before the police get into the house. Mike is extremely reluctant. He doesn’t believe a word Chris is saying, but he does smack Chris hard enough in the head with a flashlight to send him back to Lael.
Reader Comments: It will be very interesting to find out how Mike responds to seeing things vanish around Chris and to learn how he explains it all to the police.
Writer Comments: Very few friends would hit another friend in the head hard enough to risk killing them, despite not believing a word and despite thinking their friend has gone utterly mad. Yet Mike does. This doesn’t come off as forced because, throughout the whole book, Mike demonstrates in small and large ways that he will do anything for Chris. When a character needs to do something beyond the normal, make sure to set it up long in advance.
The explosives come with Chris into Lael, and the Cherazii decide to fight, not because they trust Chris, but because they will not stand by and let the worlds break. The explosives are set beneath Reon Couteau, and Chris leads a small force to breach the gate of the city, then challenges Mactalde to a duel to end the war, one on one, winner takes all. Allara, who escaped her cell after the explosion destroyed part of it, yells that it’s a trap. Mactalde gives her to Steadman. To escape, she leaps off the banister above the lake and plunges the deadly distance down.
Reader Comments: I hope the Garowai catches her. It’s about time he showed up again. If he doesn’t, he’ll have to come into play soon. Then again, perhaps Allara will die and serve some purpose in our world. Maybe Chris will find the version of her in his world. Hmm, there’s still so much I’m not sure of.
Writer Comments: That last line of my reader comments is important. A good storyteller keeps her readers guessing. There should be just enough that the reader stands a chance of figuring things out or believes she has, but things should remain uncertain. Otherwise, tension disappears.
Thank you for joining me for these chapters of Dreamlander by K.M. Weiland. We’ll resume this read next Monday. Also, keep your calendars open. On Friday, September 6th, Weiland will join us for an interview sharing about her career and some of what went into writing Dreamlander. Until then, join me this Friday for further forays into books, fiction, the speculative, and life.