Title: Dream (Aisling Trilogy #2)
Author: Carole Cummings
Publisher: DSP Publications
Release Date: June 15, 2011
Genre(s): Gay Fantasy
Page Count: 354 Pages
Reviewed by: ColinJ
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
To reveal the intricate machinations threatening them, two men must learn to trust each other. But how can they, when their hearts and minds—their realities—are subject to manipulation?
When he set out to escort the prisoner Wilfred Calder back to Putnam, Constable Dallin Brayden didn’t anticipate the political betrayal and malicious magic threatening their lives at every turn. To his surprise, he slips into the role of protector—and it’s more than duty compelling him to ensure Wil’s safety as they’re haunted by strange dreams. But does Wil dare put himself in the hands of a man he believes wants him dead?
Wil’s past weighs heavily on him, tainting his perceptions as he struggles his way through a tangle of lies. With both will and magic as his weapons, he fights desperately for survival—and his soul. For the Aisling is coveted by more than the Guild and the Brethren; ancient gods and soul-eating spirits also want what lives within him. His only chance might be Dallin and his goddess, the Mother, who Wil has been taught to despise above all others.
The story picks up where the first book left off. Whilst there is a prologue that provides background to this book, it is clearly meant as a reminder than as an alternative to reading the first book. As such it is not really possible to enjoy this book without having read the first in the series. The style of writing remains at a high level, but it should be noted that with the gap between the first two books the early part of this second part is quite confusing in the to and fro between the main characters. This is because quite a lot of what goes on is reflective, dreamlike or telepathic. Consequently it takes a while for the reader to get back into the interactions and the individual characteristics that distinguish who is currently handling the dialogue. One thing I do find fascinating is that given the author is American; the language used is very British, down to the cussing.
The world building is very well structured with detailed history and associated Glossary of terms. It is quite a complicated mix of theology and back story and added to this the pantheon of gods are characters in their own right although their words are not central to the plot. The system of magic continues to develop as the story progresses as do the number of users and their ways of using it.
The movement through the landscape is well described but the purpose seems to shift as circumstances change. There is good development of tension at key points although, as the story is revealed through the experiences of the two central characters, there are gaps or superficial coverage of things that happen outside of their direct involvement.
The roles and skills of the central characters also show growth as they come to understand and control their skills through their interaction. There remain gaps in their knowledge that leave the reader wanting more so as to understand where the story will lead.
The relationship between the two lead characters continues to develop through the book, as does their trust in each other. This is of course tested through the actions of others but also as more of their individual skills become clear to each other. Sex is introduced, but it is not explicit. Although there is passion there the story could have benefitted with more demonstration of this.
The pace of the story is steady and despite the tension from time to time it doesn’t become frenetic. This is in keeping with a single story that spans a number of parts and is sufficient to keep the reader’s attention throughout. It is generally an easy read, except of course where the reader loses sight of who is speaking now, then it takes a little backtracking to pick up the thread.
The story doesn’t end on a cliffhanger but more finishes at a convenient lull in the plot with a clear indication that more excitement is to follow. This is an interesting series that I look forward to the next part.