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If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?

Years after a harrowing war experience, ex-mercenary Jespar Dal’Varek has taken to drifting. It’s a lonely existence, but, barring the occasional bout of melancholia, he has found the closest thing to peace a man like him deserves. Life is “all right.”

Or so he believes. Hoping to turn the page, Jespar accepts a mysterious invitation into the beautiful but dangerous archipelago of Kilay-and everything changes.

Plagued by explosive social tensions and terrorism, the tropical empire is edging ever closer to civil war. Kilay’s merchant king is the only person able to prevent this catastrophe, but he has fallen into a preternatural coma-and it’s Jespar’s task to figure out what or who caused it. As the investigation takes him across the archipelago and into the king’s nightmares, unexpected events not only tie Jespar’s own life to the mystery but also unearth inner demons he believed to be long exorcised.

Battling old trauma while fighting for his life, his sanity, and the fate of Kilay, the line between dream and reality blurs until only one question remains: If your mind is the enemy, where do you run?


Book Information

  • Title: Dreams of the Dying
  • Series: The Twelfth World
  • Author: Nicolas Lietzau
  • Page Count: 728
  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Rating: 3.75/5.0
  • Date Read: May 9th, 2024

Opening Thoughts

Dreams of the Dying by Nicolas Lietzau was our Buddy Read group’s May selection. I knew for about a month that I was going to be opting for the audiobook of this one as the month was already shaping up to be rather full as it was and then I added one more as the month began. Other than that, I really didn’t know much going into this one so I was just keeping an open mind and trying to enjoy it.


The pacing seemed average to me. It certainly has an epic fantasy feel to it so there is plenty of build up throughout most of the book before things really start coming together to wrap up in the end. There were some interesting names used in this story. If I didn’t also have an electronic copy of this book there is no way I would have guessed some of the spelling of said names. They weren’t difficult to pronounce or keep straight, they were just a bit different than typical fantasy. This is a longer book which might be why it has that epic vibe to it as well. So be prepared for a bit of a marathon versus a sprint.

World Building

The world building was very strong and probably my favorite part about this book. There is a tremendous amount of work put into building this world whether it was geographical locations, history of the world and it’s characters, culture and the unique magic and monsters. The main focus on the real world versus the dream world was easy to keep track of yet very entertaining as well. The characters that have the ability to enter these dreams was exciting but the curses and monsters found within these dreams and how those can effect characters both inside and outside of the dream was where this story really shined to me.

Character Development

The character development was good. There are several very solid story arcs and the end did not go as I thought it was destined to at all. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing though. Many if not all of the characters were flawed. I actually like a book that focuses on flawed characters, especially for the protagonists. However, this is one area I actually found myself struggling with and at times simply not caring. So many of these characters just seemed constantly depressed, sad or weak to me. Again, I think having these attributes can really help a story but it just seemed a bit too much by the end for me with this one. That is probably why my favorite character ended up being Agaam. She he had his struggles and reasons for doing what he did throughout the book, but he seemed more balanced to me.

Roundup & Recommendation

All in all, this was still an enjoyable read for me. It never really gripped me fully and I’m not sure if or when I might looking to continue with the series (The Twelfth World) when book two is released. It will stay on my radar at the very least.

I would recommend this one to readers and fans of epic fantasy who really enjoy those flawed characters and have more patience for them than I apparently did. It’s a solid story, grand world and interesting characters.


World Building 4.5/5
Pacing 3.5/5
Character Development 4/5

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Chad Barnard

Owner/Operator of The Hiking Reader Blog. Sharing thoughts on books and hiking trails and trying to find ways to continue to incorporate both hobbies together.

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