What is stranger than dreaming? Turns out, quite a few things. Laini Taylor takes us on a journey of some of the rather stranger things that happen in her fictional world and doesn’t fail to keep us hooked for the entire ride. This post is the first one in a series of discussions we’re opening up around the book and mirrors some of the many discussions we have had after both of us fell in love with the characters of the story.
Strange has three main points that I kept thinking about and mentally digesting long after I’d finished reading it. The first is probably one of the more obvious ideas of the book, yet one that is profoundly undervalued in modern-day society.
The idea is this: regardless of how insignificant or trivial the dream in your heart may seem to the rest of your community, your society or even the world, if it burns with a fire so fierce that it consumes the majority of your mental energy and heart’s desire, then there’s a good chance that it’s worth following. The idea that Lazlo spends literal years scrounging around the depths of his library reading countless books in the hopes of discovering just one more secret to add to his collection of notes on the city of Weep demonstrates a phenomenal passion for this particular topic, nay, this particular calling.
I believe when you find something that consumes you – that element in your life that feels more like a heart calling than just a hobby or part-time recreational activity – then it’s something that connects to more than your heart. It becomes part of your biology. In Strange, Lazlo’s passion for Weep is actually an intrinsic part of his biology and identity. With Weep being his birthplace and the so-called gods of Weep being so intricately connected to his story, it’s fascinating that Taylor brings his enchantment with Weep full-circle. His relationship with the city starts with his birth, and his extraordinary obsession with finding out what happened to Weep’s real name is connected back to the gods when the Goddess of Secrets eats the name. As a side note, I love the irony that Taylor creates: that the same act that was meant to steal one last thing from the people of Weep becomes the very thing that brings eventual freedom and salvation to their people.
Lazlo is willing to spend the rest of his life in a dark, dusty, old library (which I’m trying to make sound depressing but sounds like a bit of a wondrous dream to me) being scoffed at, spoken down to, and suffering general daily abuse for the simple reason that this allowed him access to his stories – prodigious recollections of adventures, myths and legends that fueled his thoughts as well as his accumulating knowledge of Weep.
Taylor demonstrates through the story of Lazlo that even if your dreams seem to be nothing more than a fairy tale to the people around you, if you are as driven as Lazlo and your dream starts to call out to you, it may be more than just your imagination. It may be more than the ridiculous fantasies of your youth. It may be part of your fate. And destiny will find a way to bring your fairy tale warriors across an uncrossable desert from an imaginary land right to your doorstep. From there, it’s up to you to make your move: to shout out or let Eril-Fane walk away into the distance with the very thing you want most in this world.
Sometimes that is all it takes – one moment of insane courage – and before you know it, you’ve found a place to belong (after a lifetime of being a misfit) on a path that, for Lazlo, seems almost inevitable. Inevitability, though, is not to be mistaken for something falling into your lap. It takes Lazlo years of dedication, without any sign of there ever being any reward, for that single moment of conversation with Eril-Fane to take place. It may have been inevitable, but it is an indication of Lazlo’s character that he chases that inevitability. This characteristic makes him one of the most remarkable characters I have ever come across.
This idea stuck with me. What makes my dreams of an ideal life so different from Lazlo’s dreams of an ideal Weep? It’s this very dream that originally stirs Sarai’s affection for him: a dream so bright and full of life that to be in it is to be happily caught and lost in it. I’d like to take a leaf out of Lazlo’s book by chasing my own dreams with the same ferocious vigour: that I would be willing to spend ages in keen labour, travel across untold deserts and distances while every day facing the risk of being swallowed up by a sand-slithering spider, working often in vain against my own versions of Thyon Nero, and all the while continuing to dream a dream so lovely that people would fall in love with the very notion of it.
If you have something like this presiding over your life, or know somebody who would find this relatable: I hope, whether your skin becomes blue at the touch of godsmetal or not, that when the moment calls, you’ll answer.
As for the second point, Taylor repetitively brings up the concept of belonging: to a place, to a person, to a dream, and to the true core of your spirit.
Click here to continue to the next discussion around how I felt Taylor used Strange to bring this concept to life.