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3.9 out of 5 stars
The Dark Volume
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2009
As the title suggests, this book contains the fascinating and deep characters from the first volume. The other best part of the `Glass Eaters' was intricate plotting which was complex rather than confusing. Sadly, this trait descends into plot anarchy in the `Dark Volume'. After waiting patiently for my copy of the book, I was unable to properly finish it due to an almost comical number of twists and turns the story took. I admire the author and his clear talent, but feel that he needed an editor to sit him down and force a little (or a lot) of pruning.

To those who are considering a purchase, only buy this book if you LOVED the `Glass Eaters' and are determined to find out what happened to the intrepid trio. Otherwise, leave it well alone.
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30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
This is the sequel to The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters - a book destined to divide literary loyalties - and I am sure it was as 'eagerly anticipated' around the world as it was by me. I should say that I was just as apprehensive about this book as I was excited. I enjoyed volume one enormously, despite some pretty serious flaws, but how often does the follow-up disappoint? Far too frequently, in my experience, and as such I approached this title with excitement, tinged with some concern.

The cover isn't as pretty. It's pretty and enticing but not as startlingly beautiful as the original hardback edition was. For some reason, despite the old adage of not judging a book by its cover, this did disappoint me; it spoke of economising and corner-cutting which worried me a little.

It's considerably shorter than the original - not a spurious point at all - the apparent brevity is probably due to an editing process Glass Books could have benefited from. Indeed this book benefits from a much tighter plot with just enough extraneous detail to delight and develop character rather than distract as too often happened in Glass Books. Aside from a few (utterly necessary) sections designed to remind the reader of crucial events from book one the story is even faster-paced, darker and more desperate than the original - if that is possible!

The book manages to be even more epic in feel than Glass Books, too, partly because the heroes (as they often are in book two of trilogies) have gone their separate ways and are converging on their desperate denouement (I'll say no more).

The book takes place in an expanded world which adds to the sense of the epic. Unfortunately, it means that the city, which was one of the major 'characters' in book one, is virtually missing from the plot entirely. This means a lot of what made Glass Books feel a bit Dickensian is also missing. It's a shame but not a disaster. The environs still play a significant part in the plot and Dahlquist uses the environment in a way a little reminiscent of Hardy - although I felt a map would have helped keep track of where the characters were in relation to each other.

The episodical nature of Glass Books is not so apparent here - further distancing this book from that Dickensian feel - but that again is not a problem as each chapter leaves you wanting more - just as Glass Books did. Because The Dark Volume is tighter than Glass Books in terms of plot there isn't that sense of story unravelling in front of you. While it isn't AS gripping and there is a sense that the characters are moving towards something just a little contrived, it does seem a much more considered package.

Once again, there is plenty of Conan Doyle here, mixed with more than a little Neil Gaiman, as well as any one of the mock-period adventure stories that are so popular at the moment. But Dahlquist's secret is that, while he focuses on the fantastic, he makes excellent use of sporadic references to reality (various places around Europe are named for example). Somehow this makes the darkness even more disturbing.

There is a large cast in this book and I struggled a little to keep track of who was who and what they were working towards. It was difficult enough to keep track of the characters from book one (only the darker characters for some reason), and in particular their complex relationships, but the addition of a plethora of additional 'bad guys' with particularly complex loyalties threatened to detract from my enjoyment but ultimately didn't. Phew.

I am relieved to say that this book managed not to disappoint - despite my high expectations. Dahlquist and his publishers seem to have worked on a lot of the issues Glass Books 'suffered' from, mainly at the planning and editing stage. This makes the book appear safer; it takes fewer risks something which both adds and detracts from the book. It has resulted in a book which, while a thoroughly enjoyable and gripping read, just lacked that bit of magic Glass Books had in abundance; the magic that made Glass Books special. Oh well, it's still brilliant. Can't wait for book three.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 24 June 2008
As any self-respecting film franchise would do, the 'Glass Book' saga gets darker with its second installment - The Dark Volume. You might say that the clue's in the name. As a huge fan of the first novel, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I enjoyed reading this second book even more. The question is - why?

Well, as other reviewers have noted, the plot is a great deal more focused. Right from the start, you get the sense that Dahlquist has planned ahead, and that we are involved in the unfolding of a plot that has already been mapped out - and not one that is (perhaps) being made up along the way. Mirroring that, there aren't as many of those occasions in which various characters run blindly around never-ending corridors. Make no mistake - they do run! - but it all seems a little less pointless, and a little easier to follow as a result.

Of course, it is the wonderful characters in Dahlquist's world that draw us to these books; the diminutive - yet feisty - Miss Temple, who always finds time to bemoan a lack of biscuits/cake with her tea, even when in the hands of her enemies; Cardinal Chang, the ruthless, red-coated, stick-weilding assassin with a broken heart; and Doctor Svenson, the upstanding ex-naval surgeon who is unable to profess his love for Eloise. Our three main protagonists are all so richly drawn, as they were in the previous book, that you can't help but get drawn into their every predicament. And that's not to mention the various other superb characters that populate the novels..........

In fact, the veritable sea of characters in Dahlquist's world is perhaps a point of crticism. So many subsiduary characters are introduced, and often without a great deal of description, that the reader is at risk of becoming utterly confused when they later reappear or are referred to. Especially as so many new names and faces crop up, only to be despatched a few pages later!

As a result, I would strongly reccommend that anyone who wished to read 'The Dark Volume' should read 'The Glass Books..' first. Although the author does state that his second book is a stand-alone volume, and provides us with a brief run-down of the characters from the first, I really cannot imagine that a reader would have any chance of getting to grips with the various events, plot threads and ever-shifting alliances in this imaginary world without having been involved from the word go. Even for someone who had read 'The Glass Books' fairly recently, it took me a great deal of concentration and memory-searching to keep myself up-to-date with the numerous narrative strands running throughout!

However, this does all make 'The Dark Volume' a higly satisfying read. At 500+ pages, it is that bit shorter than its predecessor, and is an ideal length. Dahlquist writes some excellent dialogue (a scene between Miss Temple and the Contessa on the train springs to mind), and creates a powerful sense of foreboding, as everything that was known before is suddenly turned on its head. Who is the shadowy figure that hunts our protagonists - both good and bad? What is the significance of Eloise? What has happened to all the mysterious technology of the Comte?

'The Dark Volume' was a gripping book that had me reaching for it at any possible moment, and its conclusion was both astonishing and exciting. Surely, if there's anything that recommends a book, it's that you want to read the next one directly after finishing it. If so, in the case of G. W. Dahlquist, it's 'job done'. A complex, involved, thrilling and always-surprising read.

But if you've not read the first one, I suggest you take a mesmerising look into that particular 'glass book' first.......
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 July 2009
There have been plenty of other reviews of this book, so I won't bore anyone with plot summaries and critiques. Suffice to say, the characters are as well drawn as in the previous book and the plot meanders along in much the same way. However, I was left feeling very frustrated and disappointed when I forced myself to the end, only to find an unresolved story clearly leading in to at least one more volume.

One of the main things that struck me about this book, and its predecessor, is that reading it was a lot like playing a computer game. The way the characters are presented with plenty of options, the way they interact, the way the plot focuses on specific places - I had a really strong sense of being in a game.

The book is beautifully written and intricately detailed, but maybe too much so. The attention to detail is staggering, but ultimately overwhelms the power of the narrative. It is an exhausting read. I also don't feel the story is strong enough to justify another volume.

What I wanted to find on page 516 was that Celeste waltzed off happily with Chang, and that Svenson did likewise with Eloise (who we are clearly going to find is an agent of the government or suchlike), but no such luck. More, and more, and more of the same. It left me, as I say, feeling frustrated and disappointed. And I'm not certain I will buy any future sequel.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 28 February 2009
I definitely remember that when reading 'The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters' the last 300 pages or so taxed my patience to its very limits; and thus it is very odd that when I saw its sequel, 'The Dark Volume', stacked up in a local booskhop, I at once grabbed a copy: obviously the dark, oppressive atmosphere poisoning an imaginary 19th century kingdom had to some extent captivated my imagination.

`The Dark Volume' takes up the thread where its predecessoer left it, and, all in all, it is 500 pages more of the same: endlessly convoluted cabals revolving around a kind of blue glass with evil propensities. And though the characters constantly chase, flee, hunt, pursue, waylay, entrap each other etc. etc., quite early on a sort of stasis sets in, as those people might keep milling around in their small doomed universe virtually forever, forever on the move, forever scheming, at least nominally with some place of destination, but ultimately going nowhere at all. To be sure, there is some sort of linear plot development and we are treated to climactical showdown reuniting the protagonists, but these perfunctorily handled structural devices did not shape my reading experience very much.

As the book breaks off quite abruptly and the very last sentence announces that someone is planning revenge, several hundred pages more rife with intricate plotting seem to be in the offing; and as I keep wondering if the 'old queen' that has been fleetingly mentioned several times will ever step centre stage, I might well succumb to the lures of the next instalment of this haphazardly sprawling saga.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2013
Stranded on The Iron Coast after an airship crash, our heroes, Miss Temple, Cardinal Chang and Doctor Svenson are beset by suspicious locals, bounty hunters and a number of gruesome and tantalisingly familiar murders. It quickly becomes clear that the Cabal is not destroyed and the dread glass books are not all lost...

This follow-up to Lundquist's wonderful and epically racy adventure-drama The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters is a strange let-down. Where the predecessor led its readers on an exciting (and, admittedly unlikely) series of scrapes, escapes and pursuits through The City, Dark Volume is a curiously static affair, with little of the verve, brio and momentum that made Glass Books so thrilling. Much of the story is rooted in the coastal village and the heroine, Miss Temple, spends a good deal of the early chapters comatose with fever. This is not at all helped by the structure of the novel: like Glass Books, Dark Volume is written in chapters each of which adresses the point of view of one of the three protagonists. The first chapter follows Miss Temple, who has recovered from her fever and then the next two, in Svenson and Chang's p.o.v., flash back to before this recovery and then progress past it. Consequently the story is, if not downright confusing, certainly fractured and fragmentary as well as stodgy and slow. Worse still, the three are joined by a fourth companion, Eloise, the doctor's erstwhile squeeze. She, however does not get her own p.o.v. chapter so she is a bit of a gooseberry, an insider on the outside, breaking up the flow yet further.

The story seems to lack any sort of clear motivation, too. The protagonists undertake to return to The City (seperately in time, but by the same route, for no good reason) but their purpose in doing so is not obvious and it appears to be a matter of gravity rather than momentum, default instead of desire. Lundqust seems to realise that his story is wanting of motivation and purpose and he makes some effort to inject some peril and mystery, but none of it feels particularly convincing, and even when the evil Contessa makes her appearance, it is a bit of a damp squib.

Lundquist still writes well, with wit and intelligence, and the book stands by itself as a decent read and not especially egregious, but it just doesn't capture the imagination of the first one. It feels like nothing more than an interlude between Glass Books and The Chemickal Marriage and I wondered whether the trilogy would have benefitted from it's not having been written at all.

Cardinal Chang, an assassin, is breaking into a victim's bedroom...

'Chang turned the doorknob with the deliberate patience of a man stroking a woman's leg during church service,'

Now, Lunquist certainly likes his similes, and they do indeed get a little... overwrought, but that one is just utter genius.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 5 October 2010
Despite most of the leaders of the cabal dying gruesome deaths at the end of The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters, life hasn't improved much for the 3 adventurers who brought things to a head. After contracting a fever, Miss Temple awakens in a remote cottage to find that Cardinal Chang & Doctor Svenson have left some days before, having found an unknown yet apparently pressing reason for returning to the city. There have also been some savage deaths in the area, supposedly at the hands of wolves - or perhaps a madman attacking people with shards of blue glass...

Despite being shorter than the first book, The Dark Volume seemed to contain more filler. But any negatives are utterly eclipsed by an amazing conclusion which has left me gagging for volume 3, as well as some fascinating character developments. The unwed Miss Temple may well be technically a virgin but having been infected with the memories of the less-than-innocent Contessa, she finds it increasingly difficult to contain her desires & adhere to the 'moral' conventions of her time as she once again struggles to survive. Sexual tension has also developed between Eloise Dujong & her rescuer, the repressed Doctor Svenson - but with part of her memory wiped, it's unclear to both whether he can actually trust her.

Despite a summary of the main protagonists at the start of the book, I found I had to refer back to the first book in places to remind myself who a couple of the numerous characters were. Many reviewers cited this complexity as a criticism of the first book but I see it as a massive boon, adding much realism & ensuring that re-reading it in future will doubtless be almost as satisfying as the first time. Also, in many Hollywood films of trashy novels, the villain is uprooted & their vast evil empire magically disintegrates as those left live happily ever after; whereas here, there is a large cast of supporting henchmen wanting a piece of the sizeable leftovers. Thus despite the OTT nature of the plot, Dahlquist's world is utterly believable.

Dahlquist's series is an unashamedly intelligent adventure story with convincing characters, tension & excitement in equal measure. His publishers famously gave him a $2,000,000 advance - powerful testament to how popular they expected his books to be. Sadly they haven't yet achieved the level of popularity they thoroughly deserve, thus making them criminally underrated classics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 February 2009
Having greatly enjoyed the first book in the series, I waited eagerly for the follow up and got stuck in as soon as it arrived. However, I can't make up my mind or not as to whether I have enjoyed as much as the first book or whether I am a little disappointed by the follow up.

First, I wouldn't read this book without reading 'Glass books' first. Contrary to the book's description I do agree with other reviewers it is not a stand-alone volume. Second, the editing in the Dark Volume is much better than in it's predecessor although there are a number of little niggles. But these do not detract from the overall story and it flows reasonably well.

However, I think my disapointment lies in the overall story. I'm aware that not everyone will agree with me, but I'm not sure the book advances the overall plot very much. Yes, there are the twist and turns I had come to expect after reading the first novel, and I did keep reading avidly in the hope that some of the questions raised in the first novel would be answered. But it felt like much of the Dark volume regurgitated old ground and just wrapped up the plot from Glass Books in a slightly different way; although the overall story gathers momentum towards the end I didn't feel like it went anywhere other than round in circles.

I read a variety of books and try to be open-minded and I really wanted to love this book, but I can't help feeling it was a rushed sequel in the name of money spinning. It is not so well thought out as Dahlquist's first book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 June 2009
After falling in love with 'The Glass Books of the Dream Eaters' I was eagerly awaiting publication of 'The Dark Volume'. However, I was very disappointed. Whilst 'Glass Books' was a pure romp of a novel, 'The Dark Volume' plodded slowly along; whilst 'Glass Books' was sexy and decadent and funny, 'The Dark Volume' was turgid and inaccessible. I found the use of italics on practically every other word deeply annoying, I thought that the plot was utterly confusing, and that the pace was far too slow in some parts, then breakneck in others.

'Glass Books' seemed to me to be an exciting debut, but I'm sorry to say that I won't be reading on to the next novel in the trilogy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2009
I rather enjoyed Glass Books and was looking forward to a sequel but I found Dark Volume to be a great disappointment. The plot is one of the most ramshackle I've ever encountered/endured, meandering along for 500 pages with little form or structure. Characters and threads appear and disappear with such tiresome frequency that the plot sometimes verges on the incoherent and I found myself skim-reading the last hundred pages as my patience wore thin. There's a first draft feel to this book, as if the author has thrown all of his ideas onto the page without bothering to shape or refine them into a cohesive whole and the result is a frustrating mess.
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