on 18 May 2008
I was surprised when I finished this book to realise it was a fantasy masterwork rather than a sci fi masterwork, if anything it bares striking similarities to "I Am Legend", at least in its portrayal of vampires as something other than reanimated corpses or cursed undead.
While the existence of vampires, their possible reconciliation with mankind or continued existence as predators with dillusions of grandeur or supremacy, is essential to the plot it is also a spellbinding tale about Abner Marsh, unlikely and accidential hero, man of his word, riverboat captain and in some ways "everyman".
Marsh doesnt have any strong opinions about slavery, politics, things of that nature but his direct encounters with the vampires, experiencing debates about superiority and inferiority between mankind and the vampiric other he thinks again about slavery in the run up to what becomes the American civil war.
The Fevre Dream is the name of Marsh's riverboat which he gets as part of a deal with a strange nocturnal mysteryman, it is a dream realised for Marsh and becomes something of an obsession and before the book is concluded the reader is reminded and given cause to reflect in the most brilliant way. Other reviews have rightly considered have a lot to do with friendship (anyone who enjoyed The Changing Seasons, The Shawshank Redemption and The Body/Stand by Me would appreciate this book) but its also about dreams, Marsh's riverboat dream across his lifetime, the dreams and leitmotifs of the other characters, dark and light.
This book proved to be compelling, the pace is perfect, the descriptions exacting and never over done, I'm confident that if you give over the time to reading it you'll find it rewarding. One of those rare books which when you're finished you can say you didnt just read it, you "lived it".
on 30 November 2011
I first read Fevre Dream in the early eighties and on a recent quest to re-acquire the top ten paperbacks of my youth this novel was top of my list.
When you consider the hype for Twilight and Vampire Diaries and what they have done to change the modern perception of vampires, I must say they have borrowed a lot from this novel. The author, more known for his Game of Thrones adventures delivers a completely fresh take on the vampire genre, with a breathtaking story of friendship, horror, mystery and paddle steamers.
So, we have Abner Marsh; fat, ugly, riverboat captain who has built the finest, fastest steamship to grace the Mississippi. He enters into partnership with Joshua York, a strange pale man but with a barrowload of money that Abner needs to get the steamship afloat.
The Fevre Dream carries cargo for a while, but rumours start about Joshua - he sleeps all day, doesn't eat and has strange companions. Abner has his suspicions, but is not sure what to do - Joshua has become a friend and he still needs the finances.
When Damon Julian is invited into the fold, Abner comes to realise what is good and what is bad, and what is pure evil. The friendship stutters, rekindles, and the emotions run high all through the story.
Set in the 1850s, this is a tale which evokes so much of the time, the hardships and the prejudices. Much can be read into the setting - the Mississippi runs like a huge artery through the Southern states - and the characters are superbly drawn. I thoroughly recommend this novel to everyone, not just horror, mystery and supernatural aficionados.
on 4 October 2002
I'm ashamed to admit that I had never heard of this book before, or even of its author. I purchased this book purely on impulse. Now I've finished it I can safely say it is one of the best novels I have ever read - in any genre. It is a minor masterpiece that deserves to be better acknowledged (at least as the best vampire novel ever written - better even the Bram's original!).
This book has everything - tons of atmosphere, horror, action, emotion, thought provoking morals and two excellent lead characters, plus one superb villian. Also (and maybe most importantly) Fevre Dream is simply a fun read.
Set around the mid nineteenth century the story may seem a little bizarre - a vampire riverboat captain riding the Mississippi searching for other vampires. But a good book is still a good book no matter what it's subject matter so even if your reading tastes does not usually include horror fantasy please still consider giving this a try. You will not regret it!
on 27 October 2003
Reading throught he other reviews on this page you would appreciate how wonderful this book actually is, but you may be misguided in your belief that this is a 'horror novel'. Simply put, it is not.
The novel features Vampires, sure enough a main staple of many a horror novel over the years, all the way back to Bram Stoker, but they are not the central feature of this story. The central and most important element to this whole tale is the theme of friendship and trust across whatever boundaries you should choose.
Abner is a financially broken man, disasters have consumed his minor shipping fleet and left him with a tired old ship. One night he is approached about building a new ship, one which will be his, but he will not have to pay for, on the condition that the financier is able to stop as often and as long as he chooses on the first voyage.
After a reticent start, the two men forge a partnership which develops into friendship.
The story is brilliantly woven and is a very easy read because, as my fellow reviewers have claimed, the book cannot be put down.
To the end you are gripped and involved with every twist and turn, atmosphere cradling you throughout.
But be warned, if you have a single emotional bone in your body, tears will be shed upon the final page.
on 21 January 2007
No longer re-animated corpses possessed by demons, but a race of beings in their own right. Vampires live for centuries though they cannot survive for long in the sunlight; they are stronger and faster than humans; they possess the power to mesmerize humans into doing their bidding; and once a month, the "red thirst" comes on them, driving them to drink human blood.
One of the most powerful of these "vampires" has just become Abner Marsh's new partner. His name is Joshua York, and he needs transportation along the Mississippi (and a place to hide from the sun) so that he can search for others of his people who have fled the Old World for the New. Joshua believes he can save them: he has invented a drink that suppresses the "red thirst" thus making it possible for the "People of the Night" to live alongside humans for the first time.
But Joshua is about to find out that not all his people want to be saved. Some of them are, in fact, rather enjoying their existence as unkillable blood-drinking demons - notably the ancient, powerful bloodmaster Damon Julian, who may yet bring all Joshuas dreams for his people to a bloody end.
I've always loved vampire stories, and this one is exceptional. Comparisons with Anne Rice are, given the setting, inevitable. The rotting Louisiana swamps are a marvellous setting for any horror story. Martin conjurs up the same humid atmosphere of decay in the swamps and slums of New Orleans, contrasting it with the glittering beauty of the richer parts of the city - and, of course, the steamboats themselves - that Rice describes so vivdly; but he makes his protagonists a lot more interesting. No self-obsessed Lestat here, searching for his own personal redemption. (Or maybe not. You can never be quite sure with Lestat, can you? Anyway. I digress.)
Joshua is trying to save his entire race, searching for a way for them to live with humans before they die out - or are destroyed. Martin has created a whole mythology for the People of the Night, making them the hunted not the hunters, giving them a depth and character that far surpasses any other vampires in books or on screen. Along with some serious horror, lots of blood and the odd Byron quotation, this book becomes a story you're not likely to forget. I for one want don't want to.
on 2 February 2016
What a story!
I thought this was truly excellent. I loved the setting and the descriptions evoked such a strong feeling for the era that I stopped reading several times to research the towns, the boats, the river and even the food. Abner Marsh's meals were astounding but they suited him to the ground.
This is up there with the best vampire books. It may even be the best, I'm not sure, I'll have to ponder that a while.
This is one that will stay in the memory for a long time.
on 2 May 2016
Wasnt sure how I would like this book - not really my preferred genre - but, from the start, I became totally engrossed. Characters are beautifully drawn and the story grips. Thoroughly recommend and will now look for more George Martin novels.
on 26 July 2010
Fevre Dream, unlike Martin's epic Song of Ice and Fire series, is a standalone novel, set in our world - or our world with vampires. Set in the Southern US during the final years of slavery, the story echoes some of the work of Anne Rice in setting. However, it is better written, less predictable, and has a slightly different take on vampires, their origins and qualities.
The book is definitely thrilling and gripping and dramatic, and filled with convincing detail about the heydays of river steamshipping. If I were a great believer in auteur theory, I might point out that George R R Martin seems to favour characters who are confident to the point of arrogance, which can be their downfall. The story never gets boring, and never offers any comic relief. This is a story which takes itself seriously, and is well-written enough to earn the reader's complete engrossment in it.
The great writing, the completely authentic historical detail, the serious, but engrossing tone, and the larger-than-life characters showcase George R R Martin's writing in a novel which is completely different and separate from Song of Ice and Fire, but carries itself with the same confidence and bravado which sustains that long series of books. Well worth a read, and not just for Martin fans.
This is a compelling and thrilling read, filled with characters that, no matter how unlikely, you'll form some sort of connection with, whether it's compassion, hatred or morbid curiosity.
The writing is rich and detailed, taking you back into the 1800s and a life on the Mississippi River, where through Martin's excellent storytelling skills you can almost see the glorious and vibrant steamers in your mind's eye, as they competing for trade and custom, and the title of fastest steamboat, among of those who travel and work the waterways.
Underpinning it all is a dark, but bountiful plot that brings normal and paranormal together in a sinister and macabre story that will have you reading well into the small hours to reach the final outcome.
on 6 October 2010
Well like most of the fantasy reading world, I have more or less given up on ever getting another installment of the Fire and Ice series, so looked to GRR Martin's back catalogue for a 'fix'. Of the many offerings this looked the most promising written back in '82, I would say, just before George became the total master of his craft. But only just, as there is a huge amount here to relish. For one, the atmospheric and convincing setting on the wide and meandering rivers of the deep south, where I was by the end of the book, convinced I was being bitten by the mosies myself.
Then there is the gradual bond between the stories two main characters Abner Marsh the grizzled, fat, warty old riverboat man and the mysterious pale stranger York. Starting with deep mistrust and ending in the very best of friendships.
I would say the gap between this and the later 'Game of Thrones' is just the depth of character portrayal was not quite so deep and convincing. In that classic fantasy series even minor figures leap off the page and confront you in full 3D actuality whereas the lesser people in this just left me groping a bit for a sense of who they were.
In fact after the two leads the books most graphic feature is the huge paddle Steamer 'Fevre Dream' where most of the action takes place. A great backdrop for a historic adventure like this!
I suppose the story is a Vampire tale, but this seems to unfairly characterise it, as it is a deeper tale than a typical horror and should not be thought off in the same light as Anne Rice's (I have always felt) at times rather self indulgent Vampire tales which also start off in the deep south of the States. There is a message in there, if you care to look, on the white mans treatment of slaves. With the vampires neatley turning the tables on the plantation owners and slave catchers. But I will give no more of the plot away as it is best left to gradually unfurl before you the reader in the tropical heat of the Mississipi Delta.
Well worth a read, but if you are looking in George, you know what we all really want!