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Walter Moers

Die Stadt der Träumenden Bücher
Ein Roman aus Zamonien von Hildegunst von Mythenmetz

Piper Verlag, September 2004. 456 pp.
ISBN 3-492-04549-9

Walter Moers’s latest crazy and hilarious fantasy stars Hildegood von Mythmason, a dinosaur with literary ambitions. After inheriting the manuscript of the most perfect story ever written, Mythmason sets out in search of its mysterious author. The quest takes him to Bookham, the ‘city of dreaming books’. There he delights in the antiquarian bookshops, the daily readings, and the company of readers and writers. But Bookham is not as idyllic as it seems. Beneath the city is a dangerous labyrinth, a kind of underground library filled with Dangerous Books and other perils. And Mythmason’s quest leads him straight into this subterranean world, as he shows his prized manuscript to an evil shark maggot, the dastardly Phistomepheles Smeik.

To Smeik the manuscript poses a terrible threat: the publication of a perfect story would stop people buying other books – which, as owner of all the publishing companies in Bookham, he naturally cannot countenance. Instead he banishes Mythmason underground, to perish with his story. Soon the dinosaur is fighting off a particularly Dangerous Book before being befriended by some Terrible Booklets, who take him to their Leather Grotto where he feels at home surrounded by their constant quotes. But an attack by renegade Book Hunters breaks up this literary paradise, and the dinosaur, chased by a group of hungry Harpies, now finds himself in the castle of the most frightening monster of them all, the dreaded Shadow King. But all ends well. The author of the manuscript is found, Smeik is foiled and Mythmason becomes a true writer, attaining the Orm (a special kind of muse) and seeing the mystic Alphabet In The Stars.

This is a wacky story that will appeal to book-lovers of all ages. The fourth novel to be set in Zamonia, The City of Dreaming Books is filled to the brim with all the expected ingredients: a rollicking plot, fantastical monsters, thrilling adventures, witty allusions, plus, on this occasion, some well-aimed digs at critics and publishers. Moers, like his dinosaur, has got the Orm and no mistake.

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