Ok, so I should probably come clean straight off the bat, and let you know that Fantasy isn’t really my bag. Never has been. Films? Yes, lots of. Books? Not so much.
It’s not that I haven’t tried. Tolkien and I have been in an on/off relationship for most of my adult life. I even had a go at George R. R. Martin’s never-ending juggernaut Game of Thrones, but couldn’t get passed the first 3 paragraphs of clonky dialogue. Love the series though.
Allen Stroud’s Dreams of Chaos though, I got all the way through. Start to finish. That alone is like the Booker Prize of my bedtime universe.
The official book accompaniment to Snapshot Games and Julian Gollop’s Chaos Reborn multiplayer (itself a reboot of Gollop’s 1985 Spectrum classic Chaos: The Battle of Wizards), Dreams of Chaos spans the best part of 50 years in the 14th century, across a fair few countries, with a good fistful of characters and the occasional portal.
Galina and Katya are twins girls struggling to understand and accept their powers. Piers Gaveston is a courtly exile, haunted by his collapse of faith after witnessing a disastrous ritual by the Knights Templar. Hino is a Japanese nobleman, betrayed by the Emperors enemies, who sheds his mortal life to uncover the mysteries of time and magic.
The book hops between places and characters with pace, allowing them to brush against each other and cross paths as the story evolves. The dialogue is well crafted and the characters well researched and convincing, with some nice moments of darkness as each character wrestles with their personal demons and the weight of the approaching apocalypse.
Dreams of Chaos does take some time to hook you though, it took me a good half-way through to feel truly engaged. The scene setting in the early chapters and jumps from sub-plot to sub-plot can interrupt the flow a little, meaning a fair bit of page flipping is required to work out what’s happening to who. But it’s a small price to pay, as the story ultimately builds into a rewarding journey into a mysterious world and the void beyond.
If you’re an avid fantasy reader this will certainly tickle your staff. If you’re not, this may well be the book to ease you in to a richer life of immortal wizards, fire conjuring girls and crystal dragons.
Dreams of Chaos is on Amazon right here.
More on Allen Stroud here.
Daniel David is on Facebook here.