“…the killing would go on and on, the red thirst would flow down the centuries unquenched,
the fever dreams would turn to sickness and to rot…”
– Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin
Fans of A Song of Ice and Fire will find this novel to be archetypal GRRM – powered by incredibly deep and insightful character development, a richly and meticulously described setting, and a storyline that is impressively intricate.
Abner Marsh is a larger-than-life riverboat captain – “a massive man, six foot tall and three hundred pounds heavy. He had a red face and a full black beard that he wore to cover up a flat, pushed-in nose and a faceful of warts, but even the whiskers didn’t help much; they called him the ugliest man on the river…” After losing most of his boats in icy winter mishaps, the brash Marsh is struggling mightily. But when a strange man with pale skin and gray eyes named Joshua York not only offers him an unbelievable amount of money to co-captain a brand new state-of-the-art steamboat with him but the boat itself, Marsh agrees to the strange offer: and gets himself entangled in York’s secret mission, which is either heroic or insane – or both.
Fevre Dream brilliantly showcases GRRM writing skills. While most writers may use a few adjectives – or at most, a few sentences – to describe York’s eyes, GRRM uses the opportunity to not only begin to delve into York’s character but to also intensify the story’s dark ambiance and to hint at a possible foreshadowing of things to come. And he does so with a furious lyricism:
Bottom line: Fevre Dream is storytelling at its very finest. I dare anyone to not finish this book once they begin reading it – and I also bet that more than a few hardcore A Song of Ice and Fire fans will enjoy this novel just as much if not more than GRRM’s epic fantasy. Take that, Tyrion Lannister...
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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