on 20 June 2014
I bought this for a birthday present for a friend of mine who is, understandably, obsessed with 'Game of Thrones'. She had never heard of this book (from the 80's originally I think) so was completely surprised by a steam-punk inspired vampire novel by George R. R. Martin. Very good read too!
on 20 June 2012
George RR Martin's Fevre'd dream can only be described a tale of steamer trading in the south cross bred with a re imagined vampire tale. For the most part it is a successful synergy that brings two completely abstract worlds together and leads the story down a path of self discovery, redemption and understanding. The discovery is the journey that takes the characters into a murky future, not only for the future of the vampires but for the races of people and for the future of steam boating. The redemption comes in the nature of the vampires seeking a new way to live with humans, the whites to life with blacks, etc. And the understanding is despite all the external differences people are people and all aspects and spectrums can understand each other and where they are coming from.
Of course in life there is no such thing as a straight path and the way forward leaves uncertainty, twists and a large degree of sadness. Some people claim this book as a horror... I disagree there is a large amount of tension but nothing really that incites terror, to be honest the main villains of the book where tragically pathetic in there own way (more on that later).
It is however a book that will incite emotion as 'some' of the character depictions and portrayal are fantastic. Most prevalent above all is the protagonist Abner Marsh who was quite a surprise choice but ultimately a fantastic one. His course manner, huge levels of impatience and brutal honesty makes him instantly lovable, the key in this book is that his strength is his personality and that what makes the finale of the book work so well. While others are too weak to fight he almost suicidally throws himself into mortal danger for the sake of friendship and his boat.
Where the story fails is the one dimensionality of the other characters propping up the main characters. They are to accepting of everything and truly do not add to realism. A good example is on how hairy Mike and the clerk receive the revelation of the true identity but did not react in anyway that can be deemed realistic. They just followed suit as to everything they are told.
The seconend problem was complete inadequacy of the main villain Julian. He is a man that showed initial potential inhumane, strong & deadly, manipulative and a man with strong idealogical beliefs. However this is just a facade of an empty husk, his beleifs of humans serving him in everything even thought has made him useless to the point of being invalid. The true villain Billy makes up for Julian's failures but is such a perfectic thrall that I had more sympathy for him than any for of hatred.
Futhermore the story kept jumping from 1st person to third person with gaps in plot being filled by hearsay and rumours, a nasty habit that Mr Martin has
Ultimately the story fizzled out and where left with just an empty hole where the emotion should be when the story ends... it also feels like a story of crushed dreams, loneliness and sadness... and I truly dont think the author intended that.
An interesting and beautifully compiled concept, but ultimately an incomplete piece of work.
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.
on 13 March 2012
The story is set in 1857 in the American deep south, it revolves around steam ships and vampires. The vampires are not vicious and are portrayed as another race. The tone of the story is very atmospheric and never gets out of second gear. The action scenes are not overly aggressive as you might expect from a vampire story. The themes the story explores are what make it special such as racism, loyalty, hypocrisy and friendship. This book also has some of the best characters I have ever read - Abner Marsh is the main character, he is blunt, sarcastic but funny, unwilling to suffer fools and a man of integrity. Other characters such as Sour Billy Tipton who is one of the main foes, Hairy Mike, Mr Framm and the vampires Joshua York and Damon Julian all add to an interesting and riveting story. The book does contain some choice names for the slaves of that era and people reading shouldn't be offended as they are there to add authenticity to the story.
George RR Martin is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors. Dreamsongs BK 1 next...
on 30 June 2015
I picked this book up because I wanted to sample Martin's writing without getting into the LONG A Song of Ice and Fire series and I was basically pleased. There were some things I loved, the main character Abner for example. You just don't come across many middle aged, fat, harry, warty, UGLY protagonists that often and I appreciated it. Plus, I just plain liked him.
There were also things I hated, the frequent use of the "N-word" being one of them. Now, I understand this is set largely in 1857, on the Mississippi River. Slavery was a reality and no, people of the time wouldn't have used polite language. I get it. But it's still nails-on-a-chalkboard for me to read and pulled me out of the narrative every-time, especially when the word was used in the narration in addition to dialogue I could blame on a character. Maybe it just wasn't needed quite so OFTEN.
The story itself was fairly straightforward, but took enough turns to keep things interesting. I did think it was bogged down with steamboat information, but I never quite reached boredom. There were also some interesting moral questions explored by the main characters, though this was only a small part of the book. It had a great ending though.
Al in all, I enjoyed the book well enough to trust the author with a longer series. I'll happily read more of Martin's work.
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 24 July 2013
Fevre Dream is the story of Abner Marsh. An old steamboatman in the mid 19th Century; a man who knows the Mississippi like the back of his hand; a man with a dream to own the fastest steamboat on the river. Only problem is, Marsh is broke. So when he gets the offer of a lifetime to build the ship of his dreams, the Fevre Dream, from a young businessman, Joshua York, he pretty much jumps at the opportunity. Only catch is - York is coming too. And Abner has to abide by York's every whim, no matter how strange they may be. Y'see, Joshua York has a few odd habits - he likes to dine late in the evening, stop off at strange places along the river, and sleeps during the day. Yep, Joshua York is as strange a fella as Marsh has ever met - but he can put up with a few odd habits for this beauty of a steamboat. That is until the crew start talking. Until more of Joshua's friends appear on the boat. Until bodies start appearing along the banks of the Mississippi.
The setting for Fevre Dream - the mid nineteenth century Deep South - is fully realised. Martin has taken a real historic setting and thrown the reader in the deep end. His passion for the setting; for steamboats and the Mississippi, is all right there on the page. The sense of atmosphere is astonishing - Martin plants you right there, in the middle of the cloying heat of the Deep South. It feels grimy, hot and dangerous; disgusting and horrific.
In the character of Abner Marsh I couldn't help feeling like he'd thrown in elements of himself. Marsh is a big guy - he likes his food (and we all know how much GRRM loves writing about food!) and he's getting old. He certainly isn't your typical protagonist. But that's what makes him so endearing - Marsh isn't afraid to say how he feels, and it's through Marsh that we see this strange world of steamboats, slavery and vampires. He's the perfect everyman and a deeply layered character to boot.
Likewise, Joshua York (although not a POV character) is enigmatic and captivating. The story behind York, when we get around to it, is fascinating, and really shows how fully developed Martin's writing can be. Some of the scenes involving York are edge-of-the-seat type stuff. Martin's take on the vampire mythos is still genuinely original - and perhaps best of all, Fevre Dream doesn't necessarily read like a vampire story. It's more of a good old fashioned tale of terror from a real master of atmosphere and pacing.
The pacing is different to most fantasy/horror novels I've read. At times, particularly in the early stages of the novel, it feels like it's deliberate - like a steamboat cruise, it meanders and burns slowly, but always stays on track. But once things start to take a turn, about a third of the way through, Martin's plotting comes into play and the book takes twists and turns like only the fastest steamboat could manage.
The side characters in Fevre Dream are perhaps not as fully realised as may be expected from Martin - it's a much smaller book than any of the Ice and Fire novels, and sometimes his characterisation suffers. Much of the crew members blur into one at times, as do many of York's friends. However, the antagonists, when they are revealed, are every bit as terrifying and unhinged as one would expect from the man who brought us Joffrey Lannister.
Fevre Dream feels like a long trip through hell; hot, claustrophobic and filled with demons. It's like Deliverance or Aguirre: Wrath of God - a terrible, heart-thumping journey along a river, filled with all of the worst obstacles imaginable. The red thirst surges along the river - and you really should go along for the ride.
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!
on 14 March 2012
I don't read Vampire novels but I do like George RR Martin so I thought I'd give this a go. Well written with strong characters & a good plot, it kept my attention & kept me entertained. It would make a good film.
on 29 June 2001
George R.R. Martin is more well-known today for his excellent Song of Ice and Fire series, but his early work is also well-worth seeking out. British readers are well-catered for in this regard, with his early SF novels Windhaven and Dying of the Light recently republished by Millennium and the elevation of Fevre Dream into the increasingly respected Fantasy Masterworks series alongside the likes of Robert E. Howard, Gene Wolfe, Michael Moorcock and Jack Vance. Fevre Dream is a spectacularly fine novel, with marvellous historical detail, an astonishing sense of atmosphere (after reading some passages you'll be feeling the stifling heat and flies of the lower Mississippi as if for real) and a constantly shifting narrative. Also interesting is the way that the vampires of the book are actually fairly well-removed from the conventional vampires of Anne Rice and other trite horror writers. The central character, Abner Marsh, is likeable and interesting and Martin wisely spends as much time on him as on the vampires. The battle of wills between the two vampire lords is also fascinating, and in a way it is disappointing much of it is relayed second-hand. The conclusion is also perhaps slightly too positive for an otherwise darkly cynical novel, but these are minor quibbles. Fevre Dream is one of the best horror novels I have ever read and it is a mystery why it hasn't been turned into a film.