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Fevre Dream Paperback – January 1, 2012
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- Publisher : Gollancz; 0 edition (January 1, 2012)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0575083042
- ISBN-13 : 978-0575083042
- Item Weight : 9.9 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.12 x 1.1 x 7.72 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #384,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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It’s a very thrilling and very brutal story and I enjoyed every page of it. A curious mix between Interview with the Vampire and I Am Legend.
It’s funny, I’ve never really considered GRRM to be one of my favorite writers, but reading this one made me realize how much I do admire him as one. This book was released in the early eighties, and so it’s writing is not quite up to par with his Song of Ice and Fire opus, but you very much see him already getting there. It’s such a well-crafted, clever book. It made me appreciate Martin, the writer, a lot more.
A bit of warning, though: Like I mentioned before, this book is set during the Plantation Era, and obviously slavery and racism weave their way through the book in major ways. The dialogue is chock-full of the pejorative language and racial slurs of the times, as well as some brief but brutal depictions of abuse against black people. In fact, my main criticism of the book consists of this: GRRM could have certainly reeled these aspects back great deal more. (He does kind of attempt this, near the end, by having one of the main human characters, who is introduced as being ideologically opposed to slavery but doesn’t really do anything about it, help the Underground Railroad for a time. But this consists of literally one sentence and seems so tacked on that it is almost laughable if it wasn’t so sad.)
Still though. If you have the patience and willingness to stomach these rather tired tropes, you will fine a hell of a story. I don’t like to use the term “ripping yarn,” because I don’t live in a Sherlock Holmes mystery, but this is the kind of story that warrants it.
Opposing Joshua York's activities is Damon Julian, the Satanically named owner of a plantation who is leader of a twenty-vampire strong coven of the undead. Damon is more Bram Stoker's Dracula than most as while he's rich, he's allowed his plantation to crumble to ruins and fed on most of his slaves to the point that he has exhausted their numbers. He cares about little other than feeding and is only able to keep his lifestyle running due to the efforts of his human servant, Sour Billy Tipton, who is a vile racist Overseer hoping to become immortal.
Much of the book's first half is focused on Martin's painstaking research into life on steamer ships as well as the sheer luxurious opulence of the Fevre Dream. It is not only the most luxurious river boat ever built but also the fastest and Abner develops an idolatrous love of the thing. So much so that when vampirism starts becoming an issue he has to deal with both on and off his boat, he barely notices at first since all he wants is to be the captain of the vessel. Bloodsucking horrors be damned. In that respect, he's not that different from Sour Billy.
Martin creates his own rules for his vampires and as a longtime fan of Vampire: The Masquerade, I noticed they included many things that would be incorporated into Mark Rein Hagen's classic tabletop creation (via homage or parallel development). These include vampires believing themselves to the descendants of Cain, a horrifying "Beast" that dominates their actions, and the red thirst that turns even normal people into blood starved fiends. There are "nice" vampires but I rather appreciate that Martin makes it clear even they have body counts in the double if not triple digits.
The second half of the book is a good deal less engaging than the first half due to the fact the focus is less on the Fevre Dream and life on a steamer. Much of the book's appeal is soaking up the atmosphere and Martin has always been best at anticipation versus delivery, IMHO. It doesn't help that a decent number of the events are only recounted to Abner Marsh when they would have been better experienced. However, Martin is determined to keep the perspective of the book divided between Sour Billy and Abner Marsh with nothing from the viewpoint of the undead. Eventually, the book abruptly ends and we're left with more questions than answers.
Despite this, I believe that Fevre Dream is one of the classics of vampire literature. I also think that its nice to have a Martin book that is completely finished in its storytelling. This was written in 1982 and is a complete story so you don't have to worry about ever getting the ending. Honestly, I think this would make a spectacular HBO series and I wonder why they haven't done it. True Blood by the author of Game of Thrones!
Top reviews from other countries
So glad to find it on Amazon. It was like reading from new all over again, one of those 'can't put down' books. Strong characters, intense, moving story. So well written. Lots of lovely detail about the world of river life and paddle steamers too, you sort of imagine you're there amongst them all (hoping you don't bump into the 'you know whats'). Don't normally read vampire lit. any more. Seen the films, been there, done that etc. This was altogether different and very clever. Felt real loss when I'd finished it.
Is now patiently waiting in my bedside table drawer - till next time!
George RR Martin had a winner with this one. Fully Recommend
Very happy with this seller too. Item as described and speedy delivery! Will definitely use again in the future.
Steamboat captain Abner Marsh has become business partners with the gentlemanly Joshua York, who pays for the construction of the ultimate steamboat. But strange deaths along the Mississippi lead Abner to suspect that something isn't quite kosher with Joshua, until Joshua reveals the truth about himself -- he and his friends are vampires, who are working to free his race from their bloodlust.
However, the evil bloodmaster Damon Julian wants to keep the vampires as-is, since it allows him greater power over his brethren. He's even got a Gollumesque human serving him before long. Abner's attempts to help his friend lead to disaster, and it will be many years before the two friends have a chance at killing Damon again...
Martin is one of the few authors who actually bothers to come up with an origin story for his vampires, rather than just having these pale bloodsucking people be... there. Without revealing too much, he weaves a haunting explanation for the biological, spiritual and cultural differences between humans and vampires, and sets them up as a brother race to homo sapiens (instead of undead corpses). It's awesome.
Martin's writing is gritty, dark and sometimes grotesque (a vampire using a BABY as food), and even at the best of times he fills it with the grimy atmosphere of a working-class man living on the Mississippi. The only real problem is the timeskip, which jolts us several years into the future and is kind of disorienting, but that's a relatively small problem.
And the entire plot revolves around two very powerful characters, who share a powerful friendship based on trust and a desire to help the vampire species. Joshua is the usual charming gentlemanly vampire, but he's elevated by his powerful desire to save his species from their enslavement to bloodlust and/or Damon Julian. And Abner is a totally unstereotypical vampire-novel character -- he is ugly, a grizzled military man, and even as a sick old man he kicks butt.
"Fevre Dream" is a visceral, gritty vampire novel that takes the time to explore the bloodsuckers' past, and comes up with a pretty brilliant plot in the present as well. A must-read for vampire fans who like it bloody and dark.