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The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters [Hardcover]

Gordon Dahlquist
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

Aug. 1 2006
With translation rights sold in twenty-five countries, Gordon Dahlquist’s spectacular and extraordinary debut novel was one of the most-talked-about acquisitions of 2005. Now this monumental Victorian thriller is destined to be the publishing sensation of 2006.

It began with a simple note: a letter of rejection from Miss Temple’s fiancé, written on crisp Ministry paper and delivered on her maid’s silver tray. But for Miss Temple, Roger Bascombe’s cruel rejection will ignite a harrowing quest for answers, plunging her into a mystery as dizzying as a hall of mirrors—and a remote estate where danger abounds and all inhibitions are stripped bare.…Thus begins Gordon Dahlquist’s debut novel of Victorian suspense—at once a dazzling feast for the senses and a beguiling, erotic literary adventure.

Nothing could have prepared Miss Temple for where her pursuit of Roger Bascombe would take her—or for the shocking things she would find behind the closed doors of forbidding Harschmort Manor: men and women in provocative disguise, acts of licentiousness and violence, heroism and awakening. But she will also find two allies: Cardinal Chang, a brutal assassin with the heart of a poet, and a royal doctor named Svenson, at once fumbling and heroic—both of whom, like her, lost someone at Harschmort Manor. As the unlikely trio search for answers—hurtling them from elegant brothels to gaslit alleyways to shocking moments of self-discovery-- they are confronted by puzzles within puzzles. And the closer they get to the truth, the more their lives are in danger. For the conspiracy they face—an astonishing alchemy of science, perverted religion, and lust for power—is so terrifying as to be beyond belief.

In a novel that shatters conventions and seethes with danger and eroticism, Gordon Dahlquist has made a spectacular literary debut. And in Miss Temple he has created an unforgettable guide through a disturbing, seductive, and all-too-real world. By turns brutal and tender, shocking and deliciously romantic, The Glass Books of The Dream Eaters is a novel for the ages, a bold and brilliant work of the imagination

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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Debut novelist Dahlquist aims for a blockbuster with a mishmash of Sherlock Holmes, Jane Eyre and Eyes Wide Shut that never quite comes together. Three months after 25-year-old Celeste Temple travels from "her island" (a Bermuda-like place) plantation home to Victorian London, fiancé Roger Bascombe breaks their engagement. Driven more by curiosity than desire, she follows him from his job at the foreign ministry to Harschmort House, where, with little prodding, she quickly finds herself in silk undergarments at a ritual involving masked guests and two-way mirrors. Making her escape, Miss Temple (as she's called throughout) kills a henchman. Ceremony organizers pursue her as she pursues their secrets. Poetry-quoting assassin Cardinal Chang and diplomat Dr. Abelard Svenson come to her aid. Chang tries to save a half-Chinese prostitute; Abelard tries to save a governess named Elöise; Miss Temple discovers she is not the woman she thought she was, nor Roger the man she hoped for. Meanwhile, through science and alchemy, evildoers capture erotic memories and personal will in blue crystals. Dahlquist introduces so many characters, props and plot twists, near-death experiences and narrow escapes that the novel has the feel of a frantic R-rated classic comic book—if comics were arch. (Aug. 29)
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Review

"Oh, this guy is goooood! This is the most original thing I've read in years: deftly executed, relentlessly inventive, and with a trio of the most unusual and engaging heroes who ever took on a sinister cabal out to rule the world by means of sex and dreams." —Diana Gabaldon

"A tale that combines swashbuckling adventure, a big dose of science fiction and burgeoning romance."—USA Today

“…studded with treats…beautifully written…”—Entertainment Weekly

"A combination of science fiction, dark fantasy, thriller and gothic horror, this novel is as flat-out fun, engaging and funny as any tale of mystery and imagination I can recall."—John R. Alden, Cleveland Plain Dealer

"Sweeping, highly original and absorbing…. Defies categorization."—Dallas Morning News

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Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The secret of blue glass June 5 2009
By E. A Solinas HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
A title like "Glass Books of the Dream Eaters" sounds a long-lost Flaming Lips song. At the best, a wonderfully weird title for a mediocre book.

But fortunately, it actually has something to do with Gordon Dahlquist's bizarre, intricate debut novel -- a steampunky Victorian fantasy that slowly takes its three protagonists into the heart of a deadly conspiracy. It's very weird and rather slow-moving at times, but is brilliantly ambitious and atmospheric right to the explosive climax.

After being dumped by her fiancee Roger via letter, Miss Celestial Temple follows him through town to a masked party at a country estate. But the creepy party turns deadly when she witnesses drugged sexual demonstrations and a dying man with burns around his eyes. She barely manages to escape this bizarre cabal, unsure of what to do next.

Then she encounters two strange men -- "Cardinal Chang," an assassin hired to kill her until he discovered that the cabal was experimenting on the prostitute he loves, and Dr. Svenson, a nervous ducal doctor whose Prince has become ensnared in their brainwashing. They compare notes over the cabal, the Process that seems to transform them, Roger's sudden lordhood, snatches of conversation, ghastly machines and a series of shocking paintings.

Most importantly, Svenson reveals cards made out of blue glass -- which somehow have memories imprinted in them. The search for the cabal's goals and the secret of the blue glass leads all three onto parallel, intertwined paths. Chang sets out on a search for the red-clad woman and a scarred ex-prostitute, while Svenson's journey takes him into the heart of a religious cult centering on the books made of blue glass, and Miss Temple learns what her ex's involvement has wrought.
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Amazon.com: 3.4 out of 5 stars  105 reviews
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! Aug. 2 2006
By Michelle Grey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I'm not generally a fantasy book afficionado, though I loved the Phillip Pullman books and grew up on Lord of the Rings, but when a friend recommended this book, I thought what the hell, I liked the cover and the first chapter was riveting in an odd and totally original way. Needless to say - I gobbled it up. The characters were fantastically vivid, and the whole imagined world so impressively conceived, I was literally on the edge of my seat. (I read a lot of it riding on the NY subway and found myself missing stops, and in one particular scene which I won't spoil for you, getting very red in the face...) It honestly didn't even feel long, the action moves incredibly fast - the writing had irony, wit and humor - it felt like fantasy wrapped in social satire - the glass books seemed to me to be an allegory for the dangerous force of all power hungry media structures that work on your base instincts and deprive you of your individuality, your critical mind, your creativity. I recommend this book to anyone who wants something really original.
32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The 'return' of the Victorian Sci Fi Thriller Aug. 4 2006
By HH Cardigan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
At last! Jules Verne and Arthur Conan Doyle and the Marquis de Sade have risen from the grave and told us a story! Glass BOoks is basically a Victorian Sci Fi Thriller with a plot like a Nautilus shell. It twists and turns and keeps drawing you in deeper. You follow these three odd characters--a resourceful jilted fiancee, an assassin with a scarred face and a heart of gold, a whack job physician--as they pursue the central mystery: What is up with these blue glass books? There's some sort of process, involving women strapped to tables and some sort of political cabal and this weird blue glass that has the property of turning people into hopped up zombies, of a kind--much like our own television sets do, perhaps....

It all takes place in a sort of re-imagined late-19th century Europe. As if it comes to us through the filter of period literature. Velveteen boudoirs, dashing dragoons, hidden passages... It's deftly written and a wild read. In one nice trope, two brass-masked men see an act of violence witn "the dumb inconmprehension of inhabitants from the moon first witnessing the savagery of human kind," a trope that invokes Melies as much as Verne. Most of all it's a world you can live in, and don't want to leave anytime soon. Think MYST. If you've ever played, you'll see what I mean. The world's created, then you move about it in it and its got tricks and surprises and self-consistent rules.

I can't explain Glass Book's attraction by reference to any single other book, which is I think praise in itself. You'll have to read it.
57 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really glad I bought this one Aug. 7 2006
By J. R. SOUTH - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I have a penchant for long, challenging novels, and "Glass Books" is certainly both. But don't let the words "long" & "challenging" discourage you from reading it. It is bizarre and unique, firmly rooted in a universal subconscious, both the author's and our own (by now you no doubt know that the creative impetus of the book sprung from a dream). It is also very visceral, a gothic mystery that you can totally get absorbed into.

After picking up and discouragingly putting down novel after novel looking for a great summer read (I also enjoyed last summer's Dracula epic, "The Historian"), I finally found a winner!
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A densely imagined alternate world Aug. 10 2006
By M. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
From the first page on, The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters plunges the reader into an alternate Victorian world where cabals and alchemy rule. While the details are complex and the book a solid 760 pages, I found it a complete page-turner, the action moves and there is an emotional urgency to it that keeps you involved. Unlike many imaginary world novels, Glass Books does not suffer the problem of flat characterization or thuddingly dull writing. The descriptions are precise and evocative, the characters emotionally resonant.

If you need your novels to be just like real life, Glass Books is not for you. Rather, more, it works more in the way of dreams, alternately beautiful and frightening, darkly erotic and an arch tribute to Victoriana. Dahlquist writes in a deliberately stylized manner. If historical fantasy with an edge (such as steampunk, though this is *not* a steampunk novel) appeals to you, you'll love Glass Books. If you like Diana Gabaldon and Susannah Clarke, you'll like this book, though the sexuality is darker (and stranger) than in Gabaldon. You may not be comfortable, but you'll never be bored.
91 of 114 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Looooong Book of the Novel Writer Aug. 1 2006
By Tom S. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
My late mother had a way of describing books like this: "There are too many words on the pages." Now I know what Mom meant. I forced my way through this seemingly endless novel, and it was like pushing a big rock up a long hill. The first-time author has vivid characters and a good sense of adventure, but, boy-oh-boy, is he ever long-winded! Buried somewhere in this 800-page doorstop is a really terrific 400-page fantasy novel, screaming to get out.

Note the interminable amount of time it takes, over and over, for people to get from Point A to Point B. This book is all about transportation. Even the chase scenes seem to be in slow motion. And that coy "this-is-really-London-but-we're-not-going-to-call-it-London" device is truly irritating. With all the endless traveling, we still don't know where we are.

On the other hand, the story has its charms, and the "glass books" are a great concept, and the three main characters are a perfect team. If you have a great deal of patience, you'll be reasonably entertained. But this sure ain't the fantasy blockbuster the ads are claiming it to be. There is no magic here--it's been drowned in an ocean of words. The only word that's missing is economy, something a novelist can only learn with experience (and editing). Maybe next time....
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