Dreams from the Grave (Palace of Dreams Book 3)

by J. Kathleen Cheney

How long are we going to be tortured with the enforced separation of Shironne and Mikael? Huh? Sigh. At least there was some snuggling in this one, and some bonus Deborah romance that i guess will have to satisfy me until the next book (way to be an emotional cliffhanger there.)

This is a continuance of the world contained in Cheney’s Horn and Palace of Dream series. It concerns a world organized in kind of faux European feudal Kings and Lords overlaid the remains of a technologically superior civilization whose descendants are “sensitive” or can hear thoughts and emotions. This involves a complicated, three way political dance between the ruling Anvarrid families, the lesser nobility but plain human Larossan families, and the capital-F Family who are the sensitives who live inside these underground fortresses and are in a kind of utopian, non-discriminatory society that values men, women, and children and requires them to be in service to each other and the ruling families.

So because Cheney has developed this world so intricately, deeply (reminds me of reading the faux socio-anthropological fantasy book Always Coming Home by Ursula Le Guin at times) things are a little confusing sometimes with all the political machinations and complications of main characters being both Anvarrid and Larossan, for example or born Family but biologically also Anvarrid.

If you’re already a fan of this series, then you know that Mikael works for a spy/liason office for the King although he’s a super-strong broadcaster and dreamer of dreams about murders. Shironne used to work for the army, she’s a blind touch-sensitive, but now she’s been assigned to a Family group with others of her age because Mikael and Shironne love each other, after being bonded by prior book experiences, but since she’s under “adult” age by Family standards, they must be kept apart and chaperoned.

There’s a lot of Mikael holding himself back and getting chaperoned in this book. I kind of was hoping for more…developments, if you know what I mean.

Still, everything that I really enjoy about this series, the customs explanations, the shifting political allegiances, the cool characters, and the emotional heart of the story is present. Now that I’ve read the Horn series and the first couple books of this series, though, I was ready for a bit more action and possibly some hookup between the Horn series plot developments and this series’ developments.

We do get Mikael’s central dreaming problem (the murder of his father) explained, so that was satisfyingingly conclusionary, but I’m ready for Mikael and Shironne to just bust out of their chaperoned roles and start kicking some Hedraya and/or Cince behinds.

Still love this series, found this installment a bit slow paced at times. Can’t wait for the next book!