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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
In Your Dreams
Format: Kindle Edition|Change

on 11 October 2005
Well firstly, this book is a follow up to The Portable Door and before you go on any further I would stress that to aid overall understanding and enjoyment of the series, I would read that one first. Also that one is a funnier book and it's always good to get you in the right frame of mind.
Now that's out of the way... In Your Dreams picks up directly where The Portable Door finishes, Paul is still working for the highly unusual city firm J.W. Wells & Co but at least is now slightly more informed as to what the firm actually does. Now if your thinking that's typical of all new starters at city firms and that eventually everyone learns how they make money out of derivatives, you are a little of the mark. Paul is developing his magical powers in the highly competitive and not to say lucrative world of, erm, well actually... What do they do again?
As you may have gathered, things are far from black and white in the world Paul and his girlfriend Sophie inhabit. So much so that the addition of Paul's company car - Monika - causes him not to feel amazement, as one might expect when you drive a sentient car, but annoyance at its - sorry her - down right obstinance. Paul is going to have to overcome far more pressing issues though, if he is going to succeed in the cut throat corporate world, and unfortunately for him when Sophie leaves him to go to the Hollywood office, he is going to have to do it alone...
In Your Dreams explores more of the magic infested world that was created in The Portable Door and also gives us more of an insight into the Senior partners, most notable Judy di Castel'Bianco and the dashing Ricky Wurmtoter, as well as his assistant Benny Shumway. These are excellent characters to explore and are really well done. The advantage of a fantasy novel is that the characters can be anything you want them to be, but add this scope into some quirky observations of real city life and you have a really interesting set of people. Thankfully we see more of Rosie - Mr Tanner's Mum who is at times down right hilarious.
As others have mentioned this book is darker than the first, and doesn't have the same level of funny moments but I would challenge people not to find large swaths of it worthy of its predecessor. Unfortunately the comedy moments in the book weren't enough to lift this book to the heights of enjoyment I derived from the first book but I do not see that as a major issue. The scenes in the Bank of the Dead and the circumstances in which Paul visits them can at times be way out of keeping with the spirit of the rest of the book but does show a certain amount of flexibility in the writing and skill to keep the subject matter varied.
To me this book is clearly the 2nd in a trilogy and should be treated as such. There is a journey Tom Holt is trying to take us on, this instalment just felt a little like the Little Chef on the motorway; necessary but not exactly why you took the journey. I just hope the Earth, Air, Fire & Custard manages to pull it all together.
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on 21 July 2010
This book is remarkably similar to its predecessor. Paul Carpenter is baffled by his job and falling madly in love with the new girl in the office. Magical things are going on around him and he's dragged into the action in a comic battle between good and evil.

I was surprised by how quickly this book resets things, with Paul's girlfriend, who he spent the entire previous book wooing, exiting the narrative almost immediately as if the author couldn't bear to write about his character in a relationship.

I still feel ambivalent about this series. The books start really slowly and I don't get into them until halfway through. I can't identify with the character who seems to have no motivation or interest in anything. The plots are confusing and random - with most novels you get to the end and get an 'of course' moment, where everything slots together, but with this one that never happened. Despite this there are also parts which are obvious right from the start. And yet I still think I should be enjoying reading it.

So only three stars. I think I enjoyed it, but I can't think of why - I can only come up with negative things to say.
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on 17 September 2007
Tom Holt has been writing fantasy fiction for many years now and fans know what to expect from his work. Unfortunately, this means that they are aware that the quality has taken a nose dive. However, the recent `Portable Door' shuck things up a bit and was his best novel in several years. `In Your Dreams' continues the story of Paul and his job at magical firm J W Wells. Sophie has left him and to make things worse his next internship is in the hero sector where he must kill dragons without dying himself.

`In Your Dreams' is a good book let down by its length. I felt that Holt took a great concept and stretched it over 200 pages too long. The writing is good and the characters well developed. However, I grew bored with the over explanation of `interesting' facts and Holt's insistence of deviating from the central story every few pages and too much internal mutterings. I really like the character of Paul as he is a bit wet and feels realistic. For this reason I will read the next book `Earth, Fire and Custard' in the hope that Holt edits a bit better.
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on 24 February 2005
Don't be put off by any mildly negative reviews you read below. This book is a joy to read. I haven't read any of Holt's other works except The Portable Door (which I ordered as soon as I'd read the first few pages of this one and realised that, no, you may not need to read one as a prelude to the other, but it does help) but, as I had done with that one once I received it, with the luxury of half a day free I read it from cover to cover in one sitting. His writing style is easy without being childish, the jokes are subtle and in context (more situations than jokes), with the effect of making this an amusing fantasy rather than a fantastic comedy. I like the fact Holt doesn't use puns to bring a wry smile, nor obvious slapstick, just a story told with the right amount of cynicysm and depth of character to keep me amused and interested. Think Terry Pratchett without the footnotes and puns, or Robert Rankin without the slightly loopy prose and, to be honest, you're probably nowhere nearer imagining Tom Holt, but I'm no good at comparing authors so you'll have to make do.
If you've read The Portable Door then it's no-brainer that this book should follow. If not, read that then read this. I'm off to hunt through some of his back-catalogue.
Incidentally, four stars rather than five, 'cos it didn't change my life, but who wants a book that does that?
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on 23 September 2012
In Your Dreams is a funny book. Make no mistake about that. It blends a lot of every day life together with magic for laughs and has a lot of Pratchett/Adams style humour from taking things to their logical extreme. The language is good throughout with laugh out loud imagery and good use of hyperbole. Outside of humour the writing style is just solid in general, scenes and settings are well drawn.

With that in mind, the book has some problems. If you enjoyed the first book in the series (The Portable Door), or are a fan of Holt's work in general, you probably won't mind anything I have to mention below. Also, I'll say now, I wouldn't worry too much about this being the middle part of a three parter. I'll get to why in a minute...

The main shortcoming of the book is its characters. Or rather, its heroes. The villains and side characters of the book are exceedingly well drawn, from the lusty goblin receptionist to the main character's talking German car, to the Queen of the Fey, count Judy. These characters and more are well done and very enjoyable to read.

The problem is our hero: Paul Carpenter. Like most Holt protagonists he is a very generic, gormless milquetoast hero. Initially his cluelessness is a kind of attractive quality, as we, the reader, can identify. But as the book(s) go on, it becomes more and more annoying that Paul never has a clue about anything, and never has the confidence or the good sense to just ask people when he's out of his depth. He has no particularly notable or interesting character traits and this is so painfully obvious when he's standing opposite other characters who are better fleshed out. It's not impossible to get away with a somewhat generic main character, but they need just a little bit more. Arthur Dent is how to do it right, Paul Carpenter is how to do it wrong.

This goes doubly so for the heroine or love interest, Sophie. Sophie spends about 80% of the book off screen, and many characters comment repeatedly on the fact that she's a cold nasty young woman who isn't particularly nice to anyone. Yet when she shows up and... is cold and nasty and not particularly nice to the love of her life, Paul, we're still expected to route for Paul as he dives head over heels in love with her. I can kind of get behind Paul a tiny bit because he's the point of view character, but I can't even remotely begin to understand why we're supposed to like Sophie.

Beyond that, the book has a couple of other problems; plot points or important magical macguffins are occasionally introduced mere moments before they become very important, some plot twists don't exactly make sense if you stop to think about them, and there's at least one character who disappears in the final act never to be seen again. While there are good reasons for her disappearing, nobody comments on it.

Since there's no character arc worth speaking about and the major plot arc of the trilogy is pretty obvious, I think it's safe to dip in on this, the second book, if you want to, rather than starting on Portable Door.

Like I said at the start, it's very funny, and a lot of the characters are great. I'd just caution avid readers that if they want a hero who oozes personality, look elsewhere.
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VINE VOICEon 29 November 2011
This is the second of Holt's books based in the offices of J.W. Wells, where the hapless Paul Carpenter is trying to find his feet as a new employee. He knows that he has magic in his blood but he doesn't know how far it will take him. How should he use his powers? Is he really suited for pest control? Has he got what it takes to be a hero?

The idea behind the books is brilliant and the plot-lines are great but the problem is that for a large part of the book Paul is a very dreary and unsympathetic character and this puts you off. You really don't care if his life gets messed up. The problem is that this is part of the plot and all becomes much clearer at the end. His dreams and his desires all make sense but you have to read 350 pages to get any sort of clue. The later scenes with Mr Dao and uncle Ernie are comic brilliance and laugh out loud funny - especially after the intervention of Ricky Wormtotter. But for me it takes too long to get there. It might be that having not read the portable door I cannot appreciate Paul as a character, but as a stand-alone it just doesn't captivate the reader and make you want to read more. As part of the series it will be much stronger and I half want to know the rest of the secrets of J.W.Wells (Wells is the Sorcerer from the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta of that name).
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on 29 October 2016
This is the second book in the fantasy office series. You should read "The Portable door", before this.

I am sorry to say that I found the entire book frustrating and uninteresting. The protaganist Paul, is little more than an automaton. He doesn't have companions, nor do any of the the rest of the cast. The plot has no original elements and yet is absurdly complicated. In one sense it is simple though. Each chapter is very much the same. Paul plods into an impossible situation, then "hey presto" some new unconvincing magic rescues him.

The two main themes are the fae and banking. Two of my least favourite subjects. The fae constantly mess with reality, which is never satisfying. Banking is boring, now matter how hard you try to dress it up. Don't expect any humour, because there is none. Just a dark depressing story about pathetic lonely creatures, in a world without rules or optimism.
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on 25 January 2005
Tom Holt has definitely tried more towards serious fantasy rather than Comic Fantasy. There's more "Swords and Sorcery" fantasy than Comedy in this book.
That's not to say there's no laughs, far from it. Just far fewer than most of his previous books.
I'd say that you have to read "The Portable Door" before this book otherwise you'll have no background to the characters or the organisation.
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on 24 February 2017
Tom Holt.
As ridiculous and ridiculously witty, clever, smart, obscure and perfect as always.

I've never read a Tom Holt book from which I've not saved at least one or two sentences or indeed paragraphs.

If you've read him... you get it.

If you've never read him? Please do. Simply suspend belief and go with his flow.
Fabulously clever, witty stories.
Each one as addictive as the next.
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on 8 April 2013
Good to carry on the story and once again enjoying the company of characters you have come to know.
The ending left me a little, not disappointed, but flat. It is obvious now that I need to read Earth, Air, Custard Etc. to continue the story.
I like Tom Holt so he would have to write a complete bummer for me to dislike an offering.
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