Book Review : The Dream Gatherer

Book Review : The Dream GathererThe Dream Gatherer by Kristen Britain
Published by DAW Books on December 10th 2019
Pages: 176
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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 GathererDreams 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.
WishwindFinding 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 SoulsA 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.

The Dream Gatherer is a novella of three short stories, two of which directly relate to the world of Green Rider. The Dream Gatherer was released as a 20th anniversary celebration of the Green Rider series, and includes illustrations as well as the backstory on how the Green Rider series came to be. While the backstory was interesting and the stories mildly diverting, I think calling it “a must for fans of the series,” as the blurb on the back of the book states, is a bit much.


Though I think the novella was an inspired idea, especially when it came to the actual eponymous story, the execution was lacking. I especially think that Estral’s role as the Golden Guardian, her ability for writing, and drawing (apparently) were underutilized. Estral is a very clever and talented character, so to imagine her writing such, well, short stories is a bit of a disservice to her ability. I wish the author had taken more of the route of the novel Sightwitch by Susan Dennard, what with more journal notes, and a more fluid intertwining between stories. Though I think this is what the novella was going for, it never fully commits. 


And unfortunately, as someone who is a “Green Rider fan,” and the intended audience for this novella, I really didn’t think either the stories themselves or the backstory of the Green Rider series added much to my consumption of the series as a whole. I already knew much about how the Green Rider series came to be due to the author’s notes at the end of each book in the series, so there was nothing particularly illuminating there. And though I mildly enjoyed revisiting the Berry sisters, I really didn’t think anything earth shattering happened there. That is so to say, one could easily skip reading this novella altogether and not have missed anything important. 


I also found it an odd choice that Estral already knew of the Berry sisters before her arrival. Surely it would’ve been more entertaining for her to experience the Berry sisters blind, but she knows exactly who they are due to Karigan. It struck me as odd, that Karigan, the great under-sharer, would actually tell the story of these two elderly women and their magical house and other oddities and expect people to wholeheartedly believe her. Similarly, Alton, who Karigan never seemed to have a whole conversation with in the entire time she knew him, also has no trouble believing in the tale and taking advantage of the Berry sisters’ magical instrument. 


“After all, how many manor houses were there in the wilds of the Green Cloak with a ship protruding from them? She supposed it was possible there were others, but she’d only heard of one, and that from her friend Karigan.”


Unfortunately, I don’t think the quirky Berry sisters were enough to carry this simple story. Likewise, Estral, whom I finally grew to like in Firebrand, predictably defaults to using her singing voice to save the day. I wish that Estral could be more than the voice she’s losing, and I wish that the series didn’t continually magically and temporarily give her her voice back for the convenience of plot just to yank it away again, but that’s exactly what happens in this novella. I can only hope that maybe there will be greater emphasis on Estral’s writing ability and knowledge of history and lore in future entries of the series, as even though this novella is apparently from her writings, she’s never called upon to use anything but her voice to save the day.


Surprisingly the story I liked more than the lackluster “The Dream Gatherer” story, was the one Estral made up to tell poor Karigan when she was recovering from torture. This story is called “Linked, on the Lake of Souls” and I found that the characters, two best friends, instantly had a great rapport with each other. I was really interested in the idea of a female priestess and her female bodyguard, and would love to read an entire series or book based on this world and these two characters. The final story of the novella was titled “Wishwind” and I found it to be both quite bland and uninteresting. 


Honestly, though The Dream Gatherer is described as a “must” for fans of Green Rider series, I think one would really have to be more of a “fanatic” who wanted to know every last little trivial detail about the series, to really need to read it. The fact that this novella is numbered as Green Rider #6.5, when the one short story taking place after the events of Firebrand is essentially a side quest of a side character at best—filler at worst—and nothing vital to the overall plot happens, is a misnomer.


Read my reviews for the other books in the Green Rider series:

For my reread and most recent reviews of the series —

For my original review of the series —

Book Review : The Dream Gatherer - Blogging with Dragons

Posted September 3, 2021 in Book Reviews, Fantasy

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