Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – Review [Lord of the Night]
Lord of the Night reviews the fantastic third and final book in the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor. (Warning: Do not read this review unless you have read both Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight, or you just don’t care about spoilers.)
“A finale that will definitely take a place among the greatest books that you have ever read. It is nothing short of remarkable, beautiful, electrifying, and will make you laugh, gasp, cry and cheer, and from the start to the very end, you will not want to put it down. Without a doubt one of the finest books I have ever had the pleasure to read.” – Lord of the Night @ The Founding Fields
The wait for this book, even shortened as it was by my holding off on reading Days of Blood and Starlight until the release date was so close, was painful. But Dreams of Gods and Monsters was worth every second of the wait, it was a breathtaking conclusion to this excellent trilogy and a book that I enjoyed every single moment of. From the story that absolutely stunned me many times, the characters that I loved reading about and would gladly read about again, the world that Taylor built up over the course of three books that was beautiful and had that fairy-tale sense of wonder in a way that few stories do anymore. Really just everything about the book was smashing. And to top it off my copy is a first print run which comes with Laini Taylor’s signature and a beautiful illustration of Karou showing her hamsas with the caption, “Our hands are enemies, even if we aren’t.” This book will definitely have a place of honour among my collection.
The dream is not dead. Once lovers who dared to imagine a new world, then strangers with an inexplicable attraction to each other, then enemies made by the murder of loved ones, and now partners in rebellion, Karou and Akiva have united the Chimaera and the Seraphim rebels in one cause. To stop the tyrannical Jael from conquering Eretz, but now that the Dominion has entered Earth in search of the guns and monstrous weapons that Brimstone did everything to keep away from Eretz, the rebellion may be over before it can begin. Seraphim and Chimaera must put an end to the cycle of hate and death and war that has ruled Eretz and her people for over a thousand years. With Earth reeling from the “angels” in their midst, the Dominion outnumbering them 3-1 and their own sides not fully trusting them, Karou and Akiva must trust that this twisted version of the dream they once shared will be a new hope for both their people. But as Chimaera, Seraphim and humans fight, strive, love and die, the skies of Eretz are stained, the great stormhunters circle and scream, and a queen with an mysterious agenda hunts Akiva. The end is in sight, and only one question remains. What will be victorious in this great conflict: Life or Death?
The story in DoGaM is the conclusion to the story that was started in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and it’s brilliant all the way through. All the stories in the series; from the character driven ones like the relationship between Karou and Akiva, Zuzana and Mik, and a new relationship introduced in the book that provided some of the most heartwarming moments in the entire series; or the main story plots that were exciting and suspenseful the entire way through, and in the end surprised me in ways I never saw coming. But especially the revelation that comes near the end which is one of the greatest story twists that i’ve ever seen, along with the identity of Darth Revan in Star Wars KOTOR, and one that makes this story far more epic than we could have ever guessed it would be. The story isn’t as dark as Days of Blood and Starlight, though there are plenty of dark moments, it’s more epic and tragic and hopeful in many was. There were plenty of awesome moments, the kind of moments where you cheer or punch the air or grin and laugh. There were moments that will make you tear up, I admit that I did several times while reading the book; the scene with Karou and Liraz, with the canteen, now that was a beautiful moment. And there were plenty of truly funny moments, the insane thoughts and jokes from Zuzana and Mik, the odd moments between Chimaera and Seraphim and near the end we get a callback to the first book with some mischievous magic that really lightened up the gravity of the final chapters. Though there aren’t as many chapters given to other characters as there was in DoBaS, but the somewhat tighter focus on main characters is beneficial to the book, moving away from the main plot to look at characters that have no relation to it wouldn’t lend itself to a good narrative.
The characters are wonderful as ever, and with the final book in the series we get a few new additions. Eliza Jones is the most prominent of them, her part to play in the Chimaera and Seraphim war and the other events taking place is quite a surprising one. This late in the series adding such an important character could have made her feel shoehorned in, but instead I felt that she was introduced at just the right time, before this she wouldn’t have been useful or relevant, but with the revelations and plot twists in the book she becomes a truly important player. The mysterious Stelians finally make their appearance and Scarab is a very memorable character, one who stands out among her people as someone who isn’t content to simply be ruled by destiny, and she made me laugh a few times which was endearing. But the new characters are few and it’s the already established cast that are the majority of the characters. Karou and Akiva both undergo great growth and change in the book, learning from their mistakes and their successes and working to make their dream a reality, I very much enjoyed how these two slowly learn to trust each other again and how they work to rebuild what they once had. Though the character that I enjoyed the most, who underwent the most growth across the series and surprised me the most, was Liraz. The very first time she appeared the most unique part of her description was “she had the eyes of a jihadist.” Over the books we see beneath the armour she wears and to the vulnerable and frightened girl inside, and seeing her change from an unthinking soldier to a leader in touch with her emotions and who she is, and something else that I really enjoyed but would be spoilers. I also very much enjoyed the further exploration of Ziri the Kirin, his deception as the White Wolf and how it takes a toll on him both by having to pretend to be someone who was everything Ziri is not and that difficulty that Karou has in being around him now, his story was very enjoyable and I liked reading about what he did on his own, and some more spoilery stuff.
The world building is even greater in this book. Over the course of the series some small things have gone unexplained, little things that appeared like nothing at the time or a mystery to be solved another day, particularly the Fallen Razgut whose past and motives are finally explained. Sadly I can’t really hint at the specifics of what Taylor introduces in the novel because even hinting at it would be giving too much away; suffice to say that a lot is revealed about the world in general that the series is set in and that we learn a great deal about events in the past that have led to the what is happening in the series now. Taylor explores the Seraphim in much greater detail and we learn a lot more about them, though sadly the Chimaera don’t get the same treatment, but focus on the Seraphim is important to the story whereas exploring the Chimaera in the same detail wouldn’t really have been conducive to a focused and good narrative. Without giving any detail, I found what Taylor revealed about the world and the Seraphim in the final third of the book to be nothing less than stunning, and epic. Very very epic.
The prose is as distinctive as the previous books, however unlike them there are a lot less of the short chapters, unique styled chapters, etc that make Taylor’s prose stand out. Her style of writing remains the same however, narration breaking through into the narrative, the fairy-tale sense of wonder that she puts into Eretz. What makes DoGaM different from the other books in terms of prose is that the sense of scale in this book is much bigger, Taylor deals with incredible concepts like space/time, gods, creation, the universe and the vagaries of myth, and I found the prose in these sections to be very good because I felt that it very nicely described things beyond human understanding, making sure that we grasped the core concept of them but at the same time making it clear that these are things that are beyond human comprehension. The descriptive work in the book is top-notch and really makes Eretz as beautiful as it was in the previous books, and when we get into later events Taylor’s descriptive talent is put to good work and really amazed me with how she dealt with and described the concepts I listed above.
My favourite quote, unfortunately cannot be posted here because it is perhaps the most spoilery line of the entire series, so i’ll settle for another favourite;
“Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.”
The ending is brilliant. It’s wondrous, it’s heartwarming, it’s bittersweet, it’s many things that I can’t talk about because i’d end up giving things away that shouldn’t be given away. Suffice to say that I really enjoyed the ending, it was a hell of a ride throughout the trilogy to get to this point, and the many things that may follow perhaps we’ll see them, perhaps we won’t, but either way the series ends on a fantastic note. I think that fans of the trilogy will be very pleased with it all, from the fates of the characters to how all the different relationships end up, the resolution of Jael and the Dominion and the war, and the stuff that I won’t talk about. It all adds up to this great ending that is epic, exciting and made me smile right up to the final line. This is the final act of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy and when you have all three and can read them back to back, it doesn’t feel like your reading three books, it feels like reading one great epic that I think at it’s very core is a story about two people who fell in love and hoped to change the world. And all the things that followed make for a marvelous story.
For a brilliant end to what has become one of my favorite novel series, a great cast of characters that I am sad to see go, and for being the most epic book of the series with plot twists that I don’t think anybody could have predicted, I give Dreams of Gods and Monsters a score of 9.8/10. Those who’ve been reading the series should love this final entry, and as I said in my reviews for the first two books; if you are a fan of magical or dark fantasy and haven’t read this series, I strongly recommend you pick up the first book, and before you know it you’ll be as hooked as I was. And with that my review for the series comes to a close, it’s been a delight writing this as it was reading the series. The last thing i’ll say is thank you to Laini Taylor for writing this wondrous, tragic at times and heartwarming at others, and above all epic story. I look forward to seeing what you will write next.
That’s it for this review. Thanks very much for reading, until next time;
AVE DOMINUS NOX!