Review – Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream by George R.R. Martin

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Fevre Dream by George. R. R. Martin

This book is almost as old as I am, so it seems almost silly to review it. However, I do have thoughts, so here goes.

This is a story of vampires of a sort – ageless blood drinking creatures who seem to have evolved independently of humanity, but not the traditionally supernatural type – and a riverboat captain’s complicated relationship with them around the time of the American Civil War.

It is the kind of complex story you might expect from Martin, although it does bear some signs of immaturity of thought (for example, it’s made clear that the vampires require human blood to function fully, but it also says that they evolved long before humans did. So… What did they eat?) but what really strikes me is the way it so evokes the time and place of its setting.

It is set in the American south, in the 1850s, and it confronts the evils of slavery in a way that I find somewhat uncomfortable. The parallels between vampiric preying on humanity in general, and the way a slave society preys upon the enslaved, are hammered home almost too bluntly. And there is that scene, that brutal, almost unforgivable scene, that I think might not be publishable in today’s world. I wonder about this. I wonder if perhaps the wrapping of unnatural vampirism around this story is almost a cop-out. Because I think a story that deals with slavery needs more focus on the purely human evils of that institution, instead of muddying them with the inhuman evils of Julian Damon and is ilk.

I’m not sure. I’m really not. There is no veiled whitewashing of the institution, at all, but this kind of muddy presentation of the brutal viciousness of slavery, and the inhumanity it tries to force on the enslaved, reaches deep into places that many people don’t want to reach, while at the same time giving readers an out, a chance to focus on the viciousness of the inhuman characters and ignore the evils of the human society around them.

It’s a book worth reading, and thinking critically about, at any rate.



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