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Read a full summary of Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor now!  This page is full of spoilers so beware. If you are looking for a spoiler-free review, check out our Rapid Review of Strange the Dreamer.  If you are wondering what happened in Strange the Dreamer, then you are in the right place!

Laini Taylor

4.5 stars on Amazon
4.39 stars on Goodreads
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Strange the Dreamer Series:
#1 Strange the Dreamer
#2 The Muse of Nightmares

***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****

What happened in Strange the Dreamer?

A lovely blue girl falls from the sky and is impaled over an iron gate. There is an explosion in the city of Weep. Moths try to carry the girl away. Afterward, people scream because she is blue. A statue across town raises its horned head.

Twenty years ago Lazlo’s parents died in a war, and he was sent as a baby to a monastery to live with monks. Over the years one older, senile monk told him of a city across the Elmuthaleth desert. Outsiders were forbidden from laying eyes on it. None who ventured returned. Traders came from there but eventually stopped. The city fell into legend.

When Lazlo was five years old, the name of the Unseen city was stolen from his mind.  Lazlo had been sure that magic was to blame and he was and still is determined to solve the mystery.

Later he left the monastery and became a junior librarian at the Great Library of Zosma where he remains and reads almost constantly. He particularly loves seeking information about the Unseen city.

Lazlo helps an alchemist named Thyon Nero create gold.  Lazlo shows him through one of his books that the ingredient needed is the alchemist’s lifeblood.  Nero is successful and keeps the glory to himself. 

Later, Nero requests to see all of Lazlo’s books, and he has no choice but to hand them over.  Nero reads them all.


I give it 3.5 stars overall.
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Lazlo sees a great white ghost of a bird in the sky and that same day a delegation of Tizerkane warriors, led by Eril-Fane (also knowns as the godslayer), arrives. He is seeking scholars to join him.  The Tizerkane have not been in Zosma for over 200 years, and outsiders have never been invited into the city.   He claims that long ago the library and university were crushed.  They need scholars to help them with one final problem.  He won’t say what that is though.

Using the knowledge he stole from Lazlo, Nero is invited along on the journey back to the Unseen city.  He is essentially stealing Lazlo’s dream.  Lazlo finally speaks up and asks to be Eril-Fane’s secretary.  When he mentions that he has seen the white bird, he is invited along.

Riding spectrals, they travel for six months before they reach the Unseen city.

We learn of five blue, half-human children of murdered gods that are trapped in the citadel that floats over the Unseen city.  The citadel is made of blue metal and is shaped like a great angel.  When their parents were killed in what they call the Carnage, all doors of the citadel were either fused shut or open, depending on their state when it happened.  They have been there for fifteen years.  The humans don’t know that they are there. Sarai, the Muse of Nightmares can walk in other people’s dreams.  The others are Sparrow, who can make things grow, Ruby, who can create fire, Feral who can call clouds, and Minya who can tether the dead to herself.  They have had ghosts to look over them these long years. 

They escaped the killing of their parents (six ruling gods) and all of the other half-human children fifteen years ago because of Minya.  Their one rule is to allow no evidence of life show from the citadel.  Minya is angrier at the humans than the rest.  She thirsts for revenge even though their parents treated humans as slaves before they rebelled and the godslayer, Sarai’s father, Eril-Fane killed them.  Minya has gone unchanged theses fifteen years.  She still appears as a six-year-old.

Sarai’s gift shows itself as moths that pour forth from her mouth and allow her to see the city below and enter the human’s dreams.  The moths leave her in the evening and return before sunup.  She sleeps during the day.

Minya brings the ghost of a human into the citadel, and he tells them that the godslayer is returning.  He draws near in a caravan.  This terrifies Sarai and the others.  They will likely be slaughtered.

Lazlo makes a new friend named Calixte on the road.  They draw near to the Unseen city and find that enormous bones of demons litter the trail.  They behold the floating citadel that is tethered by anchors on the ground using some sort of magnetic force.  They are to find a way to get rid of it.  It has hung over the city for 200 years. 

The citadel was once manipulated by the mind of Skathis, one of the gods.  Another god, at her death, swallowed the name of the city and made everyone forget.  While they ruled over weep they would steal people, mostly girls, away for a year or so and they would return home with no memory of the year but with bodily evidence of pregnancy.

Eril-Fane, soon after his marriage to Azareen, was snatched away by Sarai’s mother to be her plaything.  She kept him for three years.  It wasn’t until Azareen was also brought to the citadel that Eril-Fane heard her screams and led the revolt against them.

Sarai, who has to take a tonic to keep her own dreams at bay, learns what they intend to do by going into the traveler’s dreams.  In every dream, she is an invisible bystander.  She can control the dream and make it a nightmare as Minya wishes her to do as punishment to the humans.  She has done this to her father many times and is the reason that he chooses to sleep outside the city.  Lazlo, however, can see Sarai in his dream. 

Lazlo and the other travelers begin making preparations, each using their own knowledge to experiment ways to move or destroy the citadel. 

Sarai learns that Minya has been keeping all the dead from Weep for years hidden away in a secret room.  She arms them with kitchen knives, and they stand guard.  They are hers to control, but Sarai can see them pleading with their eyes to help them.  Minya is stuck at six years old in both body and feelings.  She never leaves the horrors of that day.

While inspecting the anchors of the citadel Lazlo sees a painting of Sarai’s mother, the goddess of despair.  He remembers his dream and thinks that he dreamed of the goddess.  Later in his dreams, Sarai joins him but keeps her distance.

Nero grows sickly using his own lifeblood creating alkahest, a solvent that dissolves some metals.  Lazlo lends him some of his.

The next time Sarai goes into Lazlo’s dream she finds herself already there.  He is dreaming of her.  He still thinks that she is her mother, Isagol.  She takes the place of the phantom and begins conversing with him in the dreams.  She warns him to stay away.  They will die if they come to the citadel.

Lazlo, Azareen, Eril-Fane, and one of the constructors of the flying machine fly up to the citadel just outside of Sarai’s rooms.  But Minya is waiting with her army of the dead.  Sarai steps out and calls to them to go but the dead attack.  They narrowly escape.  At this moment Lazlo knows that she is real and Eril-Fane knows that his daughter is alive.  Minya is livid and uses the ghosts to confine Sarai to her room.  She also does not let Sarai sleep without nightmares.  Minya wants Sarai to kill her father by suffocating him with her moths.

That night Lazlo waits for her in his dream.  She confirms that she is not Isagol and that she is Eril-Fane’s daughter.  Her father does not alert anyone that she is there in the citadel and she wonders at this.

Later Sarai tells Lazlo that there are other survivors.  She tells him of Minya and her army and how she controls them.  Lazlo asks Eril-Fane what happened to all of the other children (the ones that outgrew the nursery) over the god’s two-hundred-year reign.  He does not know.

Nero uses Lazlo’s blood to create alkahest and finds that it does affect the metal of the citadel.  Lazlo had noticed previously that his hands turned grayish where he touched the metal.

Sarai’s body sleeps when her consciousness is in Lazlo’s dream and while there her nightmares arrive.  It is the god Skathis riding on his metal beast Rasalas.  Lazlo teaches her to overcome her fear and control the dreams. 

Sarai tries to arrange with Minya a civil meeting with Eril-Fane to talk about what to do, but the small girl won’t hear of it.  She says any that come will be killed.

Sarai and Lazlo continue to meet in his dreams and begin to fall in love.

How does Strange the Dreamer end?

Secretly, Nero creates a small hole in one of the citadel’s metal anchors.  Nero doesn’t know but Drave, the man brought along because of his knowledge of bombs watches him and, growing restless in his disuse, plants one in the hole. 

The bomb detonates.  It does not hinder the anchor but disrupts the underground waterway and causes earthquakes that shake and drop the anchor.  The citadel tilts, and everyone understands that, should it fall, it will crush the entire city.

Lazlo rushes forward feeling in his bones what he should do.  He puts his hands on the metal anchor and is able to remake it with his mind.  It changes and shifts and rights the angel-shaped citadel.  When he finishes, his skin is completely blue.  He sees the fear in the citizen’s eyes.  It seems that he was not merely a human war-orphan after all.  He is godspawn, and because of his gift, it is clear that Skathis was his father.

High above when the citadel lurched, Sarai was flung from her balcony and is impaled on a gate.  When Lazlo hears of it, he rides Rasalas to her, frightening the bystanders.  He holds her as her spirit watches on.  Eril-Fane finally weeps for his daughter. 

Lazlo takes Sarai to Minya and asks her to find her spirit.  Minya and Lazlo are in a battle of wills.  Minya does not want to lose what control she has found for her life, but Lazlo can control the metal of the citadel and is therefore infinitely stronger that Minya and her ghosts.

Minya tethers Sarai’s spirit to her and lets the lovers think that they are reunited, but then she takes full control of Sarai and tells Laslo that if he doesn’t do what she says, she will free Sarai’s spirit.  Through Lazlo, Minya will have complete control.


There you go! That’s what happened in Strange the Dreamer. Hope you enjoyed this recap of Strange the Dreamer with spoilers.

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4 thoughts on “What happened in Strange the Dreamer?”

  1. Thank you for this! I’m finally getting around to Muse of Nightmares and could not remember a second thing from Strange the Dreamer except for the death lol.

  2. Hi! Thanks for this recap!

    Got a question please: how exactly did the 6 gods get killed? By one human or a number of humans?

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