At this point, there is no way I can be considered unbiased anymore. It took me two tries to appreciate this story of Chimaera and Seraphim but now that I’m into it, I know I can’t judge this book properly. I am completely biased, I am rooting for the characters, I love the world… so any flaws this book may have (and I’m sure it does) just didn’t matter because Laini Taylor has woven her magic around me and I am happily oblivious. Warnings for gushing and spoilers for Daughter of Smoke and Bone and Days of Blood and Starlight!
DREAMS OF GODS AND MONSTERS
by Laini Taylor
Published: Little, Brown, 2014
eBook: 613 pages
Audiobook: 18 hours 12 minutes
Series: Daughter of Smoke and Bone #3
My rating: 7.5/10
Opening line: Once upon a time, an angel and a devil pressed their hands to their hearts and started the apocalypse.
Two worlds are poised on the brink of a vicious war. By way of a staggering deception, Karou has taken control of the chimaera’s rebellion and is intent on steering its course away from dead-end vengeance. The future rests on her.
When the brutal angel emperor brings his army to the human world, Karou and Akiva are finally reunited – not in love, but in a tentative alliance against their common enemy. It is a twisted version of their long-ago dream, and they begin to hope that it might forge a way forward for their people. And, perhaps, for themselves.
But with even bigger threats on the horizon, are Karou and Akiva strong enough to stand among the gods and monsters?
The New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy comes to a stunning conclusion as – from the streets of Rome to the caves of the Kirin and beyond – humans, chimaera, and seraphim strive, love, and die in an epic theater that transcends good and evil, right and wrong, friend and enemy.
It’s pretty amazing when an author sets up a world, peoples it with interesting characters and then, in the sequel, makes that world so much bigger that you feel like you’ve entered an entirely new story. It’s even more amazing when an author manages to pull this off twice! Laini Taylor did just that in her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy. Whereas the first book took place mostly in Prague and some other places on Earth, the second book transported us not just to Morocco but also to Eretz – the world where Chimaera and Seraphim come from. By meeting new characters, this world felt utterly real and Taylor painted a picture of this centuries-old war that was so engaging to read that I didn’t even miss those quieter, funnier moments with Zuzana and Karou in Prague.
In this final book, we are introduced to yet another aspect of the world and we learn some rather important (read: world shaking) things about its past. But I’m getting ahead of myself and I won’t tell you what I mean anyway, because this is a spoiler-free blog. Just know that you’re in for a couple of surprises that were hinted at before but definitely not predicted by me.
Karou and Akiva have managed a reluctant truce between their people and the goals are clear. What with Jael having invaded Earth, pretending to be biblical angels in order to gather human weapons, and the revelation that hundreds, maybe thousands, of Chimaera souls being preserved, they plan to do two things. Keep Jael from bringin human weapons to Eretz and decimating their entire world and resurrect what’s left of the Chimaera. But of course, things don’t go exactly as planned. That’s all I’m going to say about the plot as such because while it was certainly exciting, my focus was on other aspects of this book.
The characters have grown so dear to me over the course of the series that I didn’t think I had space in my heart for new ones. But I totally did! Karou and Akiva are obviously my favorites, but Zuzana and Mik prove their worth over and over again, all while providing the necessary comic relief to not make this story too dark. I adored Zuzana’s bickering, her practicality, and her brilliant mind in moments of need. But we meet new characters as well and one of them felt out of left field. Eliza is a student who is plagued by strange dreams of monsters and angels… It’s pretty easy to make the connections to the monsters and angels we, as readers of this series, already know, but figuring out how Eliza fits into this took a while. And while I adored the idea behind her character and the resolution of this mystery, I think a tad more foreshadowing could have been used in the previous books. That’s the bit of critizism I can come up with in my adoring Laini-Taylor-is-the-best-give-me-all-her-books state of mind. 🙂
I also appreciated that some characters from the very first book become important or make an appearance again. It shows that Taylor didn’t just add them in willy-nilly. And even if she did, those characters are fleshed-out enough for them to have a personality and a mind of their own. With everything that’s going on in the world(s), it only makes sense that these people would have hopes and desires that sometimes work well with our heroes’ own plans and sometimes… not so much. I love that added layer of realism in works of fantasy. Just because we’re dealing with monsters and angels doesn’t mean that they can’t behave like people, after all.
The ending was a fantastic mixture of bittersweet resolution and enough open questions for maybe revisiting this world again, someday. Without spoiling, it’s really hard to talk about details but I can tell you this much: Even when a war is over, things don’t magically fall into place and everyone isn’t suddenly happy living alongside people they have been fighting against all their lives. You don’t topple Sauron’s tower and all the Orcs magically die. In this world, the Orcs aren’t necessarily the bad guys either and the plan is to live alongside them. That takes an enormous amount of work and Laini Taylor doesn’t let her characters off easy. I found the ending very satisfying, even though I have a few questios that were left unanswered. For now, I am just happy that I still have the spin-off about Mik and Zuzana ahead of me.
MY RATING: 7.5/10 – Very good!
The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy: