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Dreams of the Compass Rose Hardcover – May 1, 2002


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Hardcover, May 1, 2002
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Readers who don't balk at the hefty price will find this first fantasy novel a clever concoction of vignettes and short stories knitted into a morality tale about the temptation of illusion and the price of truth. In an exotic setting reminiscent of Tanith Lee's Flat Earth series, Nazarian introduces a cast of characters all in search of something. Learra quests for the legendary island of Amarantea, "where the soul flies in search of wonder, when sleep takes you by the eyelashes," only to turn her back on it in the end. Cruel Lord Cireive executes Ailsan, Queen of Risei, the last of her people, only to find that her death gives her the power to defeat him. A king determined to find the "true End of the World" sends off teams of explorers, only to reject their discovery and suffer the consequences. Storyteller Annaelit insults the god of Things Left Over and finds herself at odds with her own counsel: "the world is shaped by two things stories told and the memories they leave behind." At the core of this sprawling saga is Nadir, "lowest of the low," whose only chance at redemption lies in saving the soul of a heartless wizard's daughter from the Lord of Illusion. The author's sumptuous language will resonate with Lord Dunsany and Clark Ashton Smith fans, even if it's not to most modern tastes. Despite a tendency to belabor the obvious, as when a wise servant tells her foolish master, "in the end only the truth will save us," Nazarian's vital themes and engaging characters are sure to entertain.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Nazarian's story cycle treads the borderline between the episodic novel and the short-story collection, recalling the work of contemporary fantasist Charles de Lint, early-twentieth-century fantasist Lord Dunsany, and even, reaching way back, The Thousand and One Nights. The book's underlying theme is the convergence of souls through the operations of the Compass Rose, located in the island realm of Amarantea and employing warriors and princesses, servants and conquerors, and, above all, storytellers. Nazarian's characterizations are sometimes uncertain, but her imagery is rich, vivid, and memorable, not to mention being remarkable because she realizes it not in her native language, Russian, but in English. She honors another tradition of the fantasy story cycle--slow pacing--but makes sure that the book can be read in snippets with no loss of pleasure or appreciation. Indeed, this is a singularly appealing book by a new voice in fantasy. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Wildside Pr; 1 edition (May 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1587155842
  • ISBN-13: 978-1587155840
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,711,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

VERA NAZARIAN is a two-time Nebula Award Nominee, award-winning artist, and member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, a writer and reader with a penchant for moral fables and stories of intense wonder, true love, and intricacy.

She is the author of critically acclaimed novels DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE and LORDS OF RAINBOW, as well as the outrageous parodies MANSFIELD PARK AND MUMMIES and NORTHANGER ABBEY AND ANGELS AND DRAGONS, and most recently, PRIDE AND PLATYPUS: MR. DARCY'S DREADFUL SECRET in her humorous and surprisingly romantic Supernatural Jane Austen Series.

After many years in Los Angeles, Vera lives in a small town in Vermont, and uses her Armenian sense of humor and her Russian sense of suffering to bake conflicted pirozhki and make art.

Her official author website is www.veranazarian.com

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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I want there to be a clear and definite End to things!
Miriam Garcia
The narrative involving the central characters changes from first person to third person providing insights into various characters from the various points of view.
David M Bloom
I enjoyed the rich world she created, as well as the mythology and history the characters found themselves bound in.
Gunther

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By David M Bloom on February 6, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This fantasy novel is a story cycle with a mystery. The action takes place in a world that resembles our own in many ways. Nazarian titles each of her chapters "Dreams" and like dreams, the narrative changes point of view. The narrative involving the central characters changes from first person to third person providing insights into various characters from the various points of view. I was reminded of another recent book, David Brin's "Kiln People" in which Brin's characters can make copies of themselves, so that the reader is provided with different perspectives of the same scene, and, at the same time perspectives of the same time from different places, by the same character.
Nazarian's rich imagery created for me a world of vast beauty, and the disappearance of the beauty of the world; and characters? longing for what was lost. There is a society based on justice, mercy, and compassion, that has become corrupted. I was reminded a bit of Stephan R. Donaldson Thomas Covenant series in which The Land is described as something that once so beautiful, but has been despoiled by Lord Foul, in his first novel of the series Lord Foul's Bane.
There are people possessed with magical abilities, but magic in Nazarian's world is subtle, and unlike in Rowling's world of Harry Potter, tends to be internalized. Nazarian's has a gift for page-turning dialog, and realizes her characters in a way that lets us know these are real people, torn by internal struggle and extraordinary external forces. These are people who react to circumstances in ways we know and ways that are surprising, like we know in life. For example, we get to know Nadir first as a young child who survived the desert.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Rochelle Mitchell on May 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I found Vera Nazarian's book to be a wonderful journey into foreign lands. It reinvents the old-time fantasy reminisent of a time before Tolkien and Tolkien wannabees. She creates a world rich in myth and culture. The places of the Compass Rose are places I wish to visit again and again. Her stories and characters take the reader by surprise. I highly recommend this book.
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39 of 49 people found the following review helpful By William Sanders on February 11, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I have to say up front that I do not read much fantasy of the classical or "high" sort; and so I wasn't sure I'd like this book. I'm still a little surprised that I liked it as much as I did; it's not the kind of thing I would usually go for.
Perhaps that is the mark of a really good writer, that she can make you enjoy something you usually wouldn't read. Vera Nazarian certainly made it work for me.
This is not exactly a novel, and not exactly a collection; I'm not quite sure what you'd call it - basically a group of stories set in the same fantastic world, and linked together by various associations. Some of the characters appear in more than one story, but the individual stories could stand alone I suppose - but the cumulative effect is very powerful and evocative; the whole definitely is greater than the sum of its parts.
This book can be read as simple fantasy entertainment, and no doubt would be very enjoyable as such; but on a deeper level Vera Nazarian isn't just telling strange and exotic tales; she's saying some things about the human condition, and they are things worth saying.
The writing itself is excellent. That sort of high formal voice is very difficult to bring off - it may be the most demanding of narrative styles - but Vera Nazarian succeeds where more experienced writers have crashed and burned.
It's hard to come up with comparisons. Lord Dunsany comes to mind as perhaps the closest in style, but DREAMS OF THE COMPASS ROSE has flashes of mordant humor that you'd never find in Dunsany. I was also reminded of some of the early work of Vonda MacIntyre, and now and then a line or a scene would make me think of Roger Zelazny.
I knew Roger personally, and I feel certain he would have liked this book. I certainly did.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Lisa Silverthorne on February 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is different than a lot of fantasy I've read. Some of the stories read like folk tales with the author's grand, old world style. I loved the imagery and vastness of the world of the Compass Rose. I was a little overwhelmed at times, but the author's choice to tell the story through separate yet intertwined tales made the book very accessible for me. Like buying a very rich, giant-size chocolate bar and being able to breaking off tiny scored bites or a huge section. Very enjoyable book! I'm glad I bought it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Miriam Garcia on November 19, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
A word of warning before we get to this review. I'm what you'd call a linear reader; also: a profoundly shallow person. I like my plot points to come in bulleted Powerpoint presentations, and my mysterious, meaning-of-life riddles to come with those little upside-down answers at the bottom of the page.

Dreams of the Compass Rose was not what you'd call an easy read for me. I prefer my Point A to go through the alphabet before reaching Point Z. But that doesn't happen here. Instead, we get a luxuriously wild garden of words, where leaves and flowers tumble over each other willy-nilly, and paths crisscross and sometimes loop back into themselves in elegant knots. There were times when I felt more than a little lost. Lots of times, actually.

That's not to say that I didn't love it.

First of all, I have to say that I adored the rythym of the prose. There's some seriously beautiful music going on in the author's mind and I can spend all day listening to it. The best thing is how it's not afraid to poke a little fun at itself. Listen:

"Behold a form more radiant than the desert sun at high noon!" said Annaelit at last.
Lord Ostavi blinked, then squinted, saying, "I see it. . . ."
"Yes!" exclaimed Lord Dava. "Go on. . . ."
"Behold gleaming satin hair like a waterfall, a deep sienna color that pours like liquid bronze and yet is wafted by the perfumed wind of your gardens!"
"Oh, yes!"
"Behold skin soft to the touch and delicate as the ripest peach, and great slobbering lips tender like the succulent cherry fruit, dripping liquid juices . . ."
"Ah!" moaned Lord Dava. "Yes, go on, for that is she!
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