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Point of Dreams Paperback – 26 Apr 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; New edition edition (26 April 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312875894
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312875893
  • Product Dimensions: 13.4 x 2.4 x 20.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,469,743 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Alchemy, herbal magic, and mystery work together to create a fascinating and exotic tale of fantasy intrigue."-"Library Journal""An unusual and successful blend of fantasy and mystery. . . . Familiarity with the previous books in the series isn't necessary, as the authors provide just the right amount of background on Astreiant for readers to get their bearings. . . . A page-turner that is sure to win them new fans." - "Publishers Weekly ""A fantasy of manners, a mystery, and a swashbuckler all at the same time. Through it all it maintains an almost Shakespearian sensibility, infused with the spirit of the theater where much of the action occurs." - "Lambda Book Report"

About the Author

Lisa Barnett and Melissa Scott live in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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Philip Eslingen settled himself more comfortably on the padded stool, watching as the woman seated opposite made the final adjustments to her orrery. Read the first page
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 July 2001
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mainly because the action is contained within the city and on a more domestic level but I'd still rate this at 3.5 stars. Point of Dreams picks up with Rathe and Eslingen some months after the conclusion of Point of Hopes. However, reading the first book isn't necessary to enjoy this one. We learn more of the two main characters' relationship with one another and past lovers, as the heroes combat a theatrical murder which develops into a magical plot against the queen herself. Both the city of Astreiant and its social and political foundations make this a very believable and interesting fantasy world.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Furio on 13 Feb. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This second book in the late-Renaissance series centred on pointsman Rathe is similar at first sight to the first but subtly different nonetheless, as if the two plots belonged each to one of the two authors.

The first was more focused on the mistery, on the action that brings to its solving and it was fleshed out with countless details about the lower-class characters' way of life.
In this second one the mistery seems not to be the focus of the narrative: it rather seems an excuse to examine characters interaction and the ways of upper classes in the same society. This is true to the point that the identity of the murder is quite clear from the first pages, as are his/her (no spoilers from me) motives.

In a way the novel suffers from this choice.
It also suffers from the understated tone chosen by the authors to describe people's feelings. While it may be a good idea to represent the intimate relationship between the leads (two men) as already established this understatement runs so far and deep that characterization seems to be only superficially attended to, it lacks depth: one cannot really relate to any character.

Nonetheless this novel deserves a good rating. The quality of the writing, the fastidious attention to details, the originality make this a worthwhile read.

I feel like complaining about a detail: the authors, to make their point about a society ruled by women, use "her" and "she" when the sex of the person is not known. This feels quite unnecessary.
Another problem, probably another deliberate choice, is that even after two novels the structure of the Astreiant's society and its basic geography are still unclear: the authors never take the trouble of making them clear. Outright explanations are bound to be clumsy, but some background information and a map would be useful.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 14 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A well-wrought fantasy-mystery 11 Aug. 2001
By Victoria Strauss - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Scott's and Barnett's previous collaboration, the fantasy-mystery hybrid Point of Hopes, introduced Nicholas Rathe, Adjunct Point (a kind of senior police officer) in the city of Astreiant, part of a fantasy world where astrology and alchemy function as reliably as physics and chemistry. Point of Dreams returns to that world, and to Rathe, caught up in another dangerous mystery.
Every winter in Astreiant, a masque is held. Based on ancient traditions and aligned with the stars, it's integral to the health of the queen and the realm--and more important now than ever, for the queen is soon to announce her chosen successor. This year, the play that's the source of the masque is itself sourced in an ancient text, the Alphabet of Desire, a compendium of flower- and plant-based spells, which most people believe to be a hoax but which may, just possibly, be real.
When a body is found on the rehearsal stage, inexplicably drowned in the absence of any water, Rathe is called in to investigate. He has enough headaches, what with trying to control the craze for flower corms produced by the coming masque, coping with the disturbances of the ghost-tide (a time of year when astrological conjunctions cause the ghosts of the dead to return), and negotiating the complications of a relationship with a new lover; he isn't thrilled at the idea of dealing with theatrical egos and touchy nobles as well. But it soon becomes clear that this is not just a simple revenge or jealousy killing. More deaths ensue, all linked in some way to the masque and its actors. Rathe begins to suspect that someone, somewhere, has a working version of the Alphabet, and is using it to commit murder. But who? And why? It's up to Rathe, with the help of his lover Philip Eslingen, to find out.
Readers of police procedurals will recognize the form of Point of Dreams, if not the details, which are necessarily changed by the fantasy setting. Rathe attends an autopsy (or the alchemical equivalent); he consults various experts, magical and non-; he copes with hostile colleagues and the over-eager press; he reports to his chief (who is sympathetic) and to a board of supervisors (who are not); and in the end, takes matters into his own hands, for a solution that's only just inside the law. Scott and Barnett blend the genres deftly, transposing their mystery plot seamlessly into their magical world, effectively building suspense and scattering both clues and red herrings with panache. The writing is skillful, as is the characterization: Rathe and Eslingen are sympathetic protagonists, and even minor players are very sharp. And theater buffs like me will love the theatrical details, which carry the authority of real experience.
Best of all, though, is the world building. Scott and Barnett have created a setting so densely detailed that it's at times hard to remember you aren't reading about a real place. Astreiant is both hauntingly familiar (reminiscent, to me at least, of 17th century Holland in the grip of the tulip craze) and convincingly alien, a place in which gender roles are comprehensively reversed, same-sex relationships are as common as ordinary marriages, and everything is touched by magic and shaped by the stars. The authors have built a fascinatingly complex astrological/alchemical magic system; they've also (much more difficult) made it convincing as a pseudo-scientific discipline, which works according to consistent, objective rules and is thoroughly woven into the fabric of everyday life, but always holds out the prospect of the wondrous, the dangerous, and the unknown.
Those who haven't read the previous book may find it a bit challenging at first to absorb the plethora of titles, terms, and references, but there's enough background that new readers will quickly find their feet. Both well-crafted mystery and engagingly different fantasy, Point of Dreams is an altogether rewarding reading experience.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Superb murder mystery within an enchanting fantasy tale 16 Nov. 2001
By Harriet Klausner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
In the city-state Astreiant, it is the time of the year when ghosts are visible so city lawyer Kurin Holles expected to see the apparition of his lover, but the specter fails to appear. Kurin knows the most likely reason is his beloved is magically unable to return, which leads to the conclusion that her death was caused by a murderer. Adjunct Point Nico Rathe asks his superiors for permission to investigate the death, especially since the victim possessed a copy of the spellbook The Alphabet of Desire. However, the assignment goes to a subordinate Voillemin, who intends to do nothing in order to further his career. Nico decides to serendipitously make inquiries.

Former soldier Philip Eslingen provides weapons training to those performing in the upcoming The Alphabet of Desire midwinter festival. Soon corpses begin to appear on stage accompanied by the appearance of The Alphabet of Desire spellbook. The book provides a link back to Nico's other case, but if the cop digs too deep he will learn what death by magic means.

POINT OF DREAMS cleverly places a well-crafted murder mystery inside an enchanting fantasy tale. The cast makes this Renaissance world of magic seem real as Nico and Phillip are wonderful heroes while every hard worker has had to deal with a sycophant shirker like Voillemein. The taut story line works in such a way that fans of both genres will enjoy the plot and seek out the previous novel of Melissa Scott & Lisa A Barnett set in this realm, POINT OF HOPE.

Harriet Klausner
11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Fun read but less engaging then Point of Hopes 5 Aug. 2003
By M. A. Powers - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
***1/2 stars to be more truthful...
For those of you who've read Point of Hopes and are hoping for more romance between Philip and Nico you won't be totally disappointed. Unfortunately, the authors made the odd choice of setting Point of Dreams 6 months after the case of the missing children has been solved and Nico and Philip are already involved physically and are moving quickly toward 'leman' status. There is no sex of any kind in this novel so if you are looking to be titilated and nothing else, look elsewhere. You won't even be allowed to witness a passionate kiss between the lovers. The reader is treated to a few charming and cozy domestic scenes in which Philip's nurturing nature emerges. Perhaps the authors wanted them to be at the more comfortable stage for this story in which case I wish they had saved it for another book so we could have been the voyeurs of the early stages of their romance. You know, the ROMANTIC parts! In the first book we are left hanging with vague feelings of attraction the men feel toward each other but barely acknowledge to themselves beyond vague feelings. The artistic decision to bypass the magical early moments of mutual attraction is questionable.
The mystery wasn't too hard to figure out and it took me awhile to figure out the significance of the flowers and the Alphabet book. I imagine the flowers, which were raised from expensive and delicate corms were based on the violent,intrigue-filled history of tulips in Western culture, albeit with a different twist. In this novel, the flowers are believed to have magic properties when used in conjuction with the book in question. It is Rathe's job to discover if there is any validity to the magic or if it is just a hoax. I would have liked to have seen more of Chresta Aconin, the playwrite responsible for the furor over the Alphabet and the corms. He is obviously based on poet/playwrite Christopher Marlowe, or at least Scott's characterization of him in Armour of Light.
That said, I enjoyed the book for the characters and the setting. I do look forward to another "Point" novel as there is the makings of a very engaging series here.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
intricate 23 Nov. 2006
By Furio - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This second book in the late-Renaissance series centred on pointsman Rathe is similar at first sight to the first but subtly different nonetheless, as if the two plots belonged each to one of the two authors.

The first was more focused on the mistery, on the action that brings to its solving and it was fleshed out with countless details about the lower-class characters' way of life.
In this second one the mistery seems not to be the focus of the narrative: it rather seems an excuse to examine characters interaction and the ways of upper classes in the same society. This is true to the point that the identity of the murder is quite clear from the first pages, as are his/her (no spoilers from me) motives.

In a way the novel suffers from this choice.
It also suffers from the understated tone chosen by the authors to describe people's feelings. While it may be a good idea to represent the intimate relationship between the leads (two men) as already established this understatement runs so far and deep that characterization seems to be only superficially attended to, it lacks depth: one cannot really relate to any character.

Nonetheless this novel deserves a good rating. The quality of the writing, the fastidious attention to details, the originality make this a worthwhile read.

I feel like complaining about a detail: the authors, to make their point about a society ruled by women, use "her" and "she" when the sex of the person is not known. This feels quite unnecessary.
Another problem, probably another deliberate choice, is that even after two novels the structure of the Astreiant's society and its basic geography are still unclear: the authors never take the trouble of making them clear. Outright explanations are bound to be clumsy, but some background information and a map would be useful.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Rich and satisfying 29 July 2004
By avanta7 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I set this aside with a feeling of satisfaction, as if I'd had a good meal. The mystery was well-done, the fantastic elements of the story and the world well-conceived, the backstory well-integrated and relatively easy to pick up once I got into the rhythm of the plot.

Scott and Barnett write with an attention to detail and a richness of atmosphere not often found in fantasy. The story moves along leisurely, over the course of a few days, and (forgive the clumsy metaphor) feels like dark chocolate syrup, rich, bittersweet, and luxurious. The Italian Renaissance atmosphere (to me, the city seems like Venice) and the stylized social structure is fascinating. The behind-the-scenes theatre action seems true-to-life, at least so far as my theatre experience has been.

It seems to me the society is matriarchal, as all the truly powerful positions were held by women, which is a refreshing change from most fantasy. And everyone seemed to have a mother, but I can't recall a mention of anyone's father.

And I rather like the idea of the "ghost-tide," in which our dead appear to us at a particular time of year. I wouldn't mind seeing my paternal grandparents again.

I'll be keeping my eye out for the previous two novels set in this world.
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