Review: 'DreamKeepers, volume 3, Intentions Entwined', by Dave & Liz Lillie
The last time I reviewed DreamKeepers, with vol. 2, Flight to Starfall back in Anthro #18, July-August 2008, it was by David Lillie & Liz Thomas who had just gotten married. Now it’s by Dave & Liz Lillie. The marriage seems to be working out.
Volume 1, Awakenings (Anthro review), was published in December 2006. There was a less than two-year wait for volume 2 in April 2008, then a five-year gap to volume 3. But it is 144 pages, as opposed to the 98 and 102 pages of volumes 1 & 2. Nevertheless, let’s hope that the wait for volume 4, chapters 10-12, is not as long.
“The Dreamworld is a mysterious reality that parallels our own,” begins the introduction in volume 1:
Humans cannot enter this reality – we can only catch fleeting glimpses of it through our dreaming, unconscious minds. […] Every last person has a DreamKeeper, an embodiment in the Dream World. So long as your DreamKeeper lives, the nightmare hordes cannot enter your mind through your dreams. Everyone’s DreamKeeper is completely unique – your personality and subconscious influence your DreamKeeper’s appearance and abilities.
And so on for some length. What this all means is that DreamKeepers features a funny-animal cast in “Anduruna, the largest DreamKeeper city in the DreamWorld.” If there is one DreamKeeper for every human, and the human population is now six billion – well, that’s a big city! Apparently no two DreamKeepers are of the same species. That’s a lot of different funny animals!
The protagonist is Mace, a young puppy (or is he a kitten?) in Grunn’s orphanage, a Dickensian hellhole along Anduruna’s eastern seacoast. Mace, the equivalent of a ten- or eleven-year-old human boy, is always getting in trouble for his practical jokes. He doesn’t care that he makes it easy for the orphanage’s real troublemakers to blame their tricks on him. But when his best friend is brutally murdered and he is blamed, he is forced to flee with Whip, his little blue companion (don’t call him a pet) into Anduruna’s lower-class throngs. There he meets Lilith Calah, a female counterpart from the aristocracy’s elite Sabbaton Towers who has just escaped a murder attempt (with the help of her half-sister, Namah) that apparently is connected to a black magic plot (and believe me; Dave & Liz can draw really gory and frightening black magic!) by the Dark DreamKeepers to overthrow the DreamKeepers and bring the nightmare hordes into the ascendency.
In vol. 2, Mace, Whip, Lilith, and Namah were teleported from Anduruma to what seemed to be safety in the Starfall Mountains, but they were followed by the childlike killer Wisp and her monster. They spent the entirety of vol. 2 escaping from Wisp and her monster. In vol. 3 – Chapter 7, “Contenders’ Accord”; Chapter 8, “The Writing on the Wall”; and Chapter 9, “Blood in the Books” -- the quartet return to Anduruma, where things get even more complicated.
The quartet splits up into two, and a third trio, introduced in vol. 2 but which seemed to be inconsequential, becomes a major player. In fact, except for an introduction in which villains Nabonidus and Scuttler(?) squabble, the trio open this volume; but the story changes its point of view every few pages. Woods, a deer, Bill, a cat, and a nameless dog are looking for a new job after being fired from the Sabbaton Towers, and are offered one that seems to be both illegal and dangerous. Mace, Whip, Lilith, and Namah, on the outskirts of Anduruna, are joined by Bast, who has romantic feelings for Lilith but is a violent enemy of Mace. Bast sneaks them into the city, where Lilith and Namah leave them to return to the Tower. They tell their father, the Viceroy, how they barely escaped being killed by Tinsel, his lover, but she accuses them of lying about her and the Viceroy believes her. The girls are locked in their rooms, from which they escape before Tinsel can try to kill them again. Mace and Whip, with Bast reluctantly following along, decide to return to the orphanage…
You know, a list of the changing viewpoints every few pages for 133 pages will get awfully tiresome. Take my word for it: while it is confusing, Dave & Liz keep it suspenseful with a lot of humor mixed in. By the end of the volume, the underground resistance to the Dark DreamKeepers has been established, but it does end on a cliffhanger. Both vol. 1 and vol. 2 are available for free on the DreamKeepers website, so you don’t have to jump into the story cold.
As with the two previous volumes, Volume 3, Intentions Entwined is wall-to-wall full-color gorgeous art (no margins) on glossy paper. I am in awe of how Dave & Liz can draw crowd scenes of dozens of funny animals with no two alike [ed.: those with two alike can be cute, too]. My only complaint is that there are too many night scenes, or scenes in dimly lit cellars or underground passages. Dark brown on black is not appreciated. On the whole, though, DreamKeepers, volume 3 has been worth the wait. Hopefully it will not be another five years until volume 4 appears.
Say, do you know where else you can find the plot of a fantasy world where all humans have dream doubles, not anthropomorphic animals, unfortunately, where “Humans cannot enter this reality – we can only catch fleeting glimpses of it through our dreaming, unconscious minds”? Slaves of Sleep by L. Ron Hubbard (Shasta Publishers, 1948).