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The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters Hardcover – August 1, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 768 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First Edition edition (August 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385340354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385340359
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.9 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (108 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,686 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Gordon Dahlquist's debut novel is a big, juicy, epic that will appeal to Diana Gabaldon fans (see her quote below) and lovers of literary fantasy, like Keith Donohue's The Stolen Child. The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters begins with a "Dear Jane" letter in which Celeste Temple learns of the end of her engagement. Curiosity leads her to follow her fiancé to London where she uncovers a secret. Find out more about the origins of this suspenseful literary romance, in Dahlquist's note to readers, below.
A Note from the Author

In the winter of 2004 I was selected for jury duty (at the very same time Martha Stewart went to trial in the next building over--we all had to walk past the fifteen media vans to get to our courthouse). Since the courts in Manhattan are near Chinatown, I like jury duty, as it means a few days of excellent lunches. Instead, New York was hit with a ferocious, sub-zero ice storm that went on for days, where it was impossible to wander in the way I had hoped, and so, with the grind of the trial itself, we jurors were marooned for close to 4 hours each day in the jury room. The second night of the trial, however, I had a strange dream where a friend of mine appeared in the exact garb of one of The Glass Books' three main characters, Doctor Svenson, and together we faced a mystery in a strange, dark, Victorian building involving prisoners in a creepy upstairs room without a door. While I very rarely remember my dreams, the next morning I found this one percolating in my head quite vividly. But then, for no reason I can recall, I took out a notebook, and began--instead of the Doctor, who I would get to almost off-handedly in another 100 pages or so--writing about a willful young woman from the West Indies whose fiancée has abandoned her without explanation, making it up as I went along. By the end of the trial I had the first chapter. I am by trade a playwright, and had not written prose fiction of any kind for nearly 20 years, but I found myself hooked on the story and the characters--perhaps out of my own desire to know what happened next--and so persisted, putting aside most everything else, writing for the most part in coffee shops and on the subway, until I finished the book almost exactly one year later. --Gordon Dahlquist




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)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Customer Reviews

My late mother had a way of describing books like this: "There are too many words on the pages."
Tom S.
The characters were fantastically vivid, and the whole imagined world so impressively conceived, I was literally on the edge of my seat.
Michelle Grey
I really wanted to like this book, and I did read it to the very end hoping to like it better but sorry to say it didn't happen.
Brooklyn Bookworm

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 50 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Grey on August 2, 2006
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.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By HH Cardigan on August 4, 2006
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.
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57 of 67 people found the following review helpful By J. R. SOUTH on August 7, 2006
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!
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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful By M. Young on August 10, 2006
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.
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91 of 114 people found the following review helpful By Tom S. TOP 1000 REVIEWER on August 1, 2006
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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