Half Awakened Dreams: Volume II of the Carandir Saga picks up just months after the end of volume I, Dragons Unremembered.
King Ryckair and Queen Mirjel pursue Baras, the evil dragon, who has escaped. Together, as equals, they must complete a subduing spell with the power the magical crown of Carandir. It alone can return the dragon to eternal sleep. Baras waits, wounded and in hiding, but his power grows each day. Soon, he will rise fully to visit a reign of terror upon the world.
The monarchs have matured and grown emotionally apart. They each question their devotion to one another and recall former lovers from their past as they wonder what might have happened if circumstances had been different.
Mirjel is unable to conceive an heir. This sows seeds of anxiety among the populace, allowing banished royalty to return and seize control of their former holdings. They call for “Pure Carandirians” to rise up against new comers, pitting neighbor against neighbor. Courage and cowardice compete as those who are different encounter prejudice and oppression to be killed or become refugees.
Ryckair is abducted by magical creatures who blame him for Baras’ escape. They transform the King into a misshaped beggar and send him into the world to find Baras.
He is captured by his former lover, Shara, who once convinced him that Mirjel was dead. Shara reveals the son Ryckair unknowingly conceived, the heir to the throne, who wishes to kill is father while Shara wants to reclaim her hold on Ryckair and force him to make her Queen of Carandir.
Mirjel must both rule the monarchy alone and seek to rescue the King before Baras awakes fully. As she sets out on her quest, the traitorous nobles revel themselves and raise an insurrection against the Crown
There are new cultures, new fantastic creatures and new songs set in a gender balanced world where women and men have the same rights, opportunities and authority. Complex characters must examine their own lives to find inner strengths and overcome weaknesses as much as confront forces from the outside.
Plot: Wimsett’s book presents an exciting plot of palace intrigue and political machinations spanning a continent. The novel is second in a planned series, picking up where the previous entry left off, and ending with movement toward the next act.
Prose/Style: The book features strong writing that helps illustrate the vastness of the fictional world and depth of the novel’s lore. The plotting of the political drama is carefully plotted with reveals that are timed satisfactorily.
Originality: The book unapologetically embraces fantasy staples and tropes. While there is not a particularly unique element to the setting and characters, the quality of their depiction makes for a captivating read within an immersive world that is clearly established as its own universe.
Character Development: While catching up to the different character arcs seems to require a bit more effort for readers not familiar with the first entry in the saga, the motivations of the characters are complex and variable. Readers will easily be hooked into the exciting blend of mobilized armies and political intrigue.
Date Submitted: May 22, 2020
While Wimsett immerses the reader in the world of Carandir, thoughtfully including maps of the kingdom and a glossary of the trading language, readers may be overwhelmed by the many characters (some of whom have extremely similar names, like Deh and Dek) and story lines. No single plotline gets the attention it deserves, and emotional investment may suffer as a result. In key moments, it can be difficult to keep track of who is who, lessening the intended weight of the story. (Reading the first installment might help.)
The book works best when characters have clear goals. Ryckair’s journey with the Zerites is one of the most enjoyable sections to read. Sif and Tarawee, his Zerite guides disguised as humans, inject some much-needed humor into the story, and the group suffers relatable setbacks and successes. While the author takes on a lot of information and detail at once, the world he creates is engrossing. Fantasy readers will appreciate the dedication to detail.
Takeaway: This immersive tale combines palace intrigue, military coups, and sorcery—perfect for fantasy fans with a political bent.
Great for fans of: Frank Herbert’s Dune, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: C+