The Dream Gatherer

I own a number of installments of Kristen Britain's bestselling Green Rider series, but I have yet to give the author a shot. This is mostly due to the fact that those books are in storage somewhere with countless other novels I've put away in boxes when I moved a few years back.

Hence, I wasn't planning on reading The Dream Gatherer when the review copy showed up in my mailbox. But I changed my mind when the press release stated that it was the perfect entry point for new readers. If nothing else, I believed that the novella and the other short fiction pieces would act as a primer that would allow me to sample Britain's writing style. Trouble is, this turned out to be a companion book meant for long-time fans and not for newbies. Which is why it proved kind of difficult for me to get into it.

Here's the blurb:

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the New York Times bestselling Green Rider series, this short volume introduces readers to new sides of Sacoridia in two new short stories and a novella.

In The Dream Gatherer, Kristen Britain presents a novella and two short stories set in the universe of her best selling Green Rider series in celebration of the twentieth anniversary of the publication of her first novel, Green Rider.

The Dream Gatherer
Dreams can be dangerous. A visit with the eccentric Berry sisters turns dangerous when an arcane device is discovered in their house that can summon dreamers through their dreams, and one of them is a nightmare.

Finding peace during the Long War. Raised in an orphan camp, Green Rider Danalong has known only war and strife, until a shipwreck leaves him stranded on a mysterious island.

Linked, on the Lake of Souls
A story of friendship within a story of friendship. In the sixth volume of the Green Rider series, Firebrand, a wounded Karigan G’ladheon asks her friend Estral to tell her a story to take her mind off her pain. This is that story.

The book includes illustrations and backstory on the creation of Green Rider by the author, and a special introduction by award-winning science fiction and fantasy author, Julie E. Czerneda.

Personally, my favorite part of this work was Kristen Britain's "The Story Behind the Story." I'm always quite interested in discovering how a novel/series was born and I really enjoyed reading about the genesis of this tale. Especially how working at Acadia National Park inspired the author to set her story in a landscape remisniscent of Maine instead of the popular European medieval analog. In addition, I was intrigued by the fact that Terry Goodkind played such an important role in getting her career started. I was aware that he blurbed Green Rider, but I never would have thought that he had been so helpful to Britain. Beyond this introduction, there were no efforts to ease new readers into these stories. Which is why I say that this is a companion book meant for existing fans of the series and not for potential readers who want to get a taste of the tale.

"Wishwind" is meant to be a back story for the Green Rider sequence and features a shipwrecked Danalong. To a certain extent, this short story's style is straight out of the 80s, with its exploration of Good vs Evil and the nature of magic. Felt more or less like some filler material.

"Linked, on the Lake of Souls" is a story within a story, something recounted by one character to ease another's pain in the sixth installment of the series. It's a somewhat humorous tale of friendship and ingenuity as Tiphane and Myrene, a Givean priestess and her sworn Shield, must outwit the magic of an evil wizard and prevent the death of a young boy. Again, maybe I was missing some nuances, but this also felt like filler material.

Understandably, The Dream Gatherer is the pièce de résistance and the novella is the best piece that comprise this book. Once more, I have a feeling that readers already acquainted with the Berry Sisters and Estral, the Golden Guardian now that her father was slain during the Battle of the Lone Forest, will get a lot more out of this one. The same goes regarding the love story between Alton and Estral. The draugmkelder and the dreams it gathers was a nice concept, but newbies probably won't appreciate the protagonists' plight as much as Green Rider fans. The eccentric sisters were fun to follow, but in the end The Dream Gatherer is more of a bonus story meant to please readers eagerly awaiting the seventh volume.

Still unsure whether or not The Dream Gatherer actually worked as a primer for Kristen Britain's Green Rider series. If, like me, you are considering giving this one a shot and use it as some sort of introduction to the storylines and the characters, please refrain from doing so. This book is a present for fans and not something that works for newbies. If you want to sample Britain's writing, go for Green Rider, the first installment in the sequence.

The final verdict: 6/10

For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

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