Dreams of Chaos. Book Review

docDREAMS OF CHAOS by Allen Stroud
HWS Press, p/b, 220pp, £6.99
Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Katya’s father is dying. From her brother’s tears and her father’s laboured breaths she knows it will not be long. Katya could help her father, she knows she could, but he would never allow it and none would forgive her if she did. Hours, not days, remain and then her life will have to change; she and her sister will have to leave their home. The villagers call them witches, but what use is power when they cannot use it?

Piers Gaveston, banished advisor to Prince Edward II and confidante of the Lady Eleanor, opens his eyes just in time to avoid assassination and escapes, fleeing those who would want him dead and fleeing his family, to keep them safe. Now, in Avignon, Piers, clad in his ceremonial robes, enters the bishop’s palace and plays his reluctant part in the ritual.

Dreams of Chaos, for those who do not know the connection, is an accompanying fantasy novel to the computer game Chaos Reborn, and gives us alternative history of our world as in the game. More about that and the author can be found on the game website.

From a prologue threaded with magical promise, through a timeline of historical events, Stroud begins his narrative sometime after the Knights Templar arrive in France, and the reader meets Katya, Piers and the many other key characters of the story.

The large cast is introduced slowly, drip fed into the narrative throughout the first third of the book giving the reader a chance to get to know a little of each and their plights. Little is unfortunately the key word – there is a lot to take in and it is a struggle to take it all in. This reader has to wonder whether those familiar with the game will be at an advantage on this score.

The narrative is well structured; however, the prose confident, and the various sub plots and multi-cultural elements portrayed well. Wizards and religion combine and clash in a sword and sorcery in a fairly traditional style.