The Palace of Dreams - a fantasy series of the far distant future

  • Posted on: 9 April 2021
  • By: Sevhina

Dreaming Death Book CoverThe Families in their underground fortresses have little interest in the world above, although they did offer aid to the first Larossan refugees who came to their lands due to their ancient mandate to preserve humanity. When the Anvarrid invaders eventually conquered Larossa they chose to negotiate with them rather than fight and risk the last six fortresses built by the Founders. In exchange for being mostly independent they vowed to give up their secret languages and technologies and spend their first three years as adults guarding the Anvarrid nobility. They make exceptional guards due to the high number of psychics, called sensitives, among them and the mental discipline required by anyone living with empaths. An uneasy peace has now existed between these three cultures for almost two centuries.

Mikael Lee has a bizarre gift where his dreaming mind links to murder victims and he experiences their deaths. It began when he dreamed his own father's murder and Mikael has always thought his father did it to deliberately impart a message when his parents simply vanished and their bodies and killer were never found. Unfortunately, Mikael is also a powerful broadcaster and any nearby sensitives will feel his emotions as he dreams making him extremely unpopular. The only positive aspect of his gift is that the Army has a sensitive strong enough to not only share his dreams but remember them, which Mikael doesn't.

Shironne Anjir is unmarriageable by Larossan society. Not only was she blinded in a childhood accident but she is also a rare touch-sensitive. She has chosen to work as an investigator in the Army ever since she shared the dream of her maid's lover being murdered and promised to find the killer. She knows only that the actual dreamer is at the Palace and that she isn't allowed to meet him because at seventeen she is still considered a child by Family, which has strict laws regarding contact between children and adults to prevent young minds from being influenced by those of greater strength.

Among the Anvarrid a joining of minds is known as a Binding and both Shironne and Mikael are part Anvarrid. The mystery is how two people who have never met or exchanged blood ended up Bound together which is normally done as part of the Anvarrid marriage ceremony. The idea of a child's mind Bound to an adult worries the Family Elders but when Mikael is forced to admit that he now experiences the physical injuries done to the victims in his dreams their Infirmarian decides it's time to see if Shironne can somehow save him. Dreaming Death starts out with a series of brutal ritual murders that allow MIkael and Shironne to work together for the first time. Book two, In Dreaming Bound, focuses more on their personal lives and the challenges they face due to their mixed ancestry and their Binding. There are also a few tantalizing hints of something big happening behind the scenes among the Families. Dreams from the Grave returns to Mikael's recurring dream of his father's murder and dealing with his place as the apparent heir to House Vandriyen when he thinks of himself as Family first and Anvarrid second.

Overall, its an intriguing world with well developed cultures and a long history. If this review seems a bit short on the history and tech of this world that's a reflection of the books themselves. The Palace of Dreams series reads more like a fantasy series along the lines of McCaffrey's Pern books where very few remember that they came from another world and it has little immediate impact on this story. It is about the characters and their personal situations with a little danger and politics thrown in. Between the first and second book of this series Cheney wrote another trilogy, The Horn series, that takes place in this world at the same time and results in the odd hints of big changes in the background, but that is for another review. Between the two series my preference would be to start with this one because it includes a great more detail on the current social and political setting than The Horn series does.