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Fevre Dream

Fevre Dream

4.2 110
by George R. R. Martin

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Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of


Abner Marsh, a struggling riverboat captain, suspects that something’s amiss when he is approached by a wealthy aristocrat with a lucrative offer. The hauntingly pale, steely-eyed Joshua York doesn’t care that the icy winter of 1857 has wiped out all but one of Marsh’s dilapidated fleet; nor does he care that he won’t earn back his investment in a decade. York’s reasons for traversing the powerful Mississippi are to be none of Marsh’s concern—no matter how bizarre, arbitrary, or capricious York’s actions may prove. Not until the maiden voyage of Fevre Dream does Marsh realize that he has joined a mission both more sinister, and perhaps more noble, than his most fantastic nightmare—and humankind’s most impossible dream.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A novel that will delight fans of both Stephen King and Mark Twain . . . darkly romantic, chilling and rousing by turns . . . a thundering success.”—Roger Zelazny
“An adventure into the heart of darkness that transcends even the most inventive vampire novels . . . Fevre Dream runs red with original, high adventure.”—Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“Stands alongside Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire as a revolutionary work.”—Rocky Mountain News
“Engaging and meaningful.”—The Washington Post Book World

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Random House Publishing Group
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6.13(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.78(d)

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Fevre Dream

By George R. R. Martin

Random House

George R. R. Martin
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0553900986

Chapter One

chapter one

St. Louis, April 1857 Abner Marsh rapped the head of his hickory walking stick smartly on the hotel desk to get the clerk's attention. "I'm here to see a man named York," he said. "Josh York, I believe he calls hisself. You got such a man here?"

The clerk was an elderly man with spectacles. He jumped at the sound of the rap, then turned and spied Marsh and smiled. "Why, it's Cap'n Marsh," he said amiably. "Ain't seen you for half a year, Cap'n. Heard about your misfortune, though. Terrible, just terrible. I been here since '36 and I never seen no ice jam like that one."

"Never you mind about that," Abner Marsh said, annoyed. He had anticipated such comments. The Planters' House was a popular hostelry among steamboatmen. Marsh himself had dined there regularly before that cruel winter. But since the ice jam he'd been staying away, and not only because of the prices. Much as he liked Planters' House food, he was not eager for its brand of company: pilots and captains and mates, rivermen all, old friends and old rivals, and all of them knowing his misfortune. Abner Marsh wanted no man's pity. "You just say where York's room is," he told the clerk peremptorily.

The clerk bobbed his head nervously. "Mister York won't be in his room, Cap'n. You'll find him in the dining room, taking hismeal."

"Now? At this hour?" Marsh glanced at the ornate hotel clock, then loosed the brass buttons of his coat and pulled out his own gold pocket watch. "Ten past midnight," he said, incredulous. "You say he's eatin'?"

"Yes sir, that he is. He chooses his own times, Mister York, and he's not the sort you say no to, Cap'n."

Abner Marsh made a rude noise deep in his throat, pocketed his watch, and turned away without a word, setting off across the richly appointed lobby with long, heavy strides. He was a big man, and not a patient one, and he was not accustomed to business meetings at midnight. He carried his walking stick with a flourish, as if he had never had a misfortune, and was still the man he had been.

The dining room was almost as grand and lavish as the main saloon on a big steamer, with cut-glass chandeliers and polished brass fixtures and tables covered with fine white linen and the best china and crystal. During normal hours, the tables would have been full of travelers and steamboatmen, but now the room was empty, most of the lights extinguished. Perhaps there was something to be said for midnight meetings after all, Marsh reflected; at least he would have to suffer no condolences. Near the kitchen door, two Negro waiters were talking softly. Marsh ignored them and walked to the far side of the room, where a well-dressed stranger was dining alone.

The man must have heard him approach, but he did not look up. He was busy spooning up mock turtle soup from a china bowl. The cut of his long black coat made it clear he was no riverman; an Easterner then, or maybe even a foreigner. He was big, Marsh saw, though not near so big as Marsh; seated, he gave the impression of height, but he had none of Marsh's girth. At first Marsh thought him an old man, for his hair was white. Then, when he came closer, he saw that it was not white at all, but a very pale blond, and suddenly the stranger took on an almost boyish aspect. York was clean-shaven, not a mustache nor side whiskers on his long, cool face, and his skin was as fair as his hair. He had hands like a woman, Marsh thought as he stood over the table.

He tapped on the table with his stick. The cloth muffled the sound, made it a gentle summons. "You Josh York?" he said.

York looked up, and their eyes met.

Till the rest of his days were done, Abner Marsh remembered that moment, that first look into the eyes of Joshua York. Whatever thoughts he had had, whatever plans he had made, were sucked up in the maelstrom of York's eyes. Boy and old man and dandy and foreigner, all those were gone in an instant, and there was only York, the man himself, the power of him, the dream, the intensity.

York's eyes were gray, startlingly dark in such a pale face. His pupils were pinpoints, burning black, and they reached right into Marsh and weighed the soul inside him. The gray around them seemed alive, moving, like fog on the river on a dark night, when the banks vanish and the lights vanish and there is nothing in the world but your boat and the river and the fog. In those mists, Abner Marsh saw things; visions swift-glimpsed and then gone. There was a cool intelligence peering out of those mists. But there was a beast as well, dark and frightening, chained and angry, raging at the fog. Laughter and loneliness and cruel passion; York had all of that in his eyes.

But mostly there was force in those eyes, terrible force, a strength as relentless and merciless as the ice that had crushed Marsh's dreams. Somewhere in that fog, Marsh could sense the ice moving, slow, so slow, and he could hear the awful splintering of his boats and all his hopes.

Abner Marsh had stared down many a man in his day, and he held his gaze for the longest time, his hand closed so hard around his stick that he feared he would snap it in two. But at last he looked away.

The man at the table pushed away his soup, gestured, and said, "Captain Marsh. I have been expecting you. Please join me." His voice was mellow, educated, easy.

"Yes," Marsh said, too softly. He pulled out the chair across from York and eased himself into it. Marsh was a massive man, six foot tall and three hundred pounds heavy. He had a red face and a full black beard that he wore to cover up a flat, pushed-in nose and a faceful of warts, but even the whiskers didn't help much; they called him the ugliest man on the river, and he knew it. In his heavy blue captain's coat with its double row of brass buttons, he was a fierce and imposing figure. But York's eyes had drained him of his bluster. The man was a fanatic, Marsh decided. He had seen eyes like that before, in madmen and hell-raising preachers and once in the face of the man called John Brown, down in bleeding Kansas. Marsh wanted nothing to do with fanatics, with preachers, and abolitionists and temperance people.

But when York spoke, he did not sound like a fanatic. "My name is Joshua Anton York, Captain. J. A. York in business, Joshua to my friends. I hope that we shall be both business associates and friends, in time." His tone was cordial and reasonable.

"We'll see about that," Marsh said, uncertain. The gray eyes across from him seemed aloof and vaguely amused now; whatever he had seen in them was gone. He felt confused.

"I trust you received my letter?"

"I got it right here," Marsh said, pulling the folded envelope from the pocket of his coat. The offer had seemed an impossible stroke of fortune when it arrived, salvation for everything he feared lost. Now he was not so sure. "You want to go into the steamboat business, do you?" he said, leaning forward.

A waiter appeared. "Will you be dining with Mister York, Cap'n?"

"Please do," York urged.

"I believe I will," Marsh said. York might be able to outstare him, but there was no man on the river could outeat him. "I'll have some of that soup, and a dozen oysters, and a couple of roast chickens with taters and stuff. Crisp 'em up good, mind you. And something to wash it all down with. What are you drinking, York?"


"Fine, fetch me a bottle of the same."

York looked amused. "You have a formidable appetite, Captain."

"This is a for-mid-a-bul town," Marsh said carefully, "and a formid-a-bul river, Mister York. Man's got to keep his strength up. This ain't New York, nor London neither."

"I'm quite aware of that," York said.

"Well, I hope so, if you're going into steamboatin'. It's the for-mid-a-bullest thing of all."

"Shall we go directly to business, then? You own a packet line. I wish to buy a half-interest. Since you are here, I take it you are interested in my offer."

"I'm considerable interested," Marsh agreed, "and considerable puzzled, too. You look like a smart man. I reckon you checked me out before you wrote me this here letter." He tapped it with his finger. "You ought to know that this last winter just about ruined me.

York said nothing, but something in his face bid Marsh continue.

"The Fevre River Packet Company, that's me," Marsh went on. "Called it that on account of where I was born, up on the Fevre near Galena, not 'cause I only worked that river, since I didn't. I had six boats, working mostly the upper Mississippi trade, St. Louis to St. Paul, with some trips up the Fevre and the Illinois and the Missouri. I was doing just fine, adding a new boat or two most every year, thinking of moving into the Ohio trade, or maybe even New Orleans. But last July my Mary Clarke blew a boiler and burned, up near to Dubuque, burned right to the water line with a hundred dead. And this winter--this was a terrible winter. I had four of my boats wintering here at St. Louis. The Nicholas Perrot, the Dunleith, the Sweet Fevre, and my Elizabeth A., brand new, only four months in service and a sweet boat too, near 300 feet long with 12 big boilers, fast as any steamboat on the river. I was real proud of my lady Liz. She cost me $200,000, but she was worth every penny of it." The soup arrived. Marsh tasted a spoonful and scowled. "Too hot," he said. "Well, anyway, St. Louis is a good place to winter. Don't freeze too bad down here, nor too long. This winter was different, though. Yes, sir. Ice jam. Damn river froze hard." Marsh extended a huge red hand across the table, palm up, and slowly closed his fingers into a fist. "Put an egg in there and you get the idea, York. Ice can crush a steamboat easier than I can crush an egg. When it breaks up it's even worse, big gorges sliding down the river, smashing up wharfs, levees, boats, most everything. Winter's end, I'd lost my boats, all four of 'em. The ice took 'em away from me."

"Insurance?" York asked.

Marsh set to his soup, sucking it up noisily. In between spoons, he shook his head. "I'm not a gambling man, Mister York. I never took no stock in insurance. It's gambling, all it is, 'cept you're bettin' against yourself. What money I made, I put into my boats."

York nodded. "I believe you still own one steamboat."

"That I do," Marsh said. He finished his soup and signaled for the next course. "The Eli Reynolds, a little 150-ton stern-wheeler. I been using her on the Illinois, 'cause she don't draw much, and she wintered in Peoria, missed the worse of the ice. That's my asset, sir, that's what I got left. Trouble is, Mister York, the Eli Reynolds ain't worth much. She only cost me $25,000 new, and that was back in '50."

"Seven years," York said. "Not a very long time."

Marsh shook his head. "Seven years is a powerful long time for a steamboat," he said. "Most of 'em don't last but four or five. River just eats 'em up. The Eli Reynolds was better built than most, but still, she ain't got that long left." Marsh started in on his oysters, scooping them up on the half shell and swallowing them whole, washing each one down with a healthy gulp of wine. "So I'm puzzled, Mister York," he continued after a half-dozen oysters had disappeared. "You want to buy a half-share in my line, which ain't got but one small, old boat. Your letter named a price. Too high a price. Maybe when I had six boats, then Fevre River Packets was worth that much. But not now." He gulped down another oyster. "You won't earn back your investment in ten years, not with the Reynolds. She can't take enough freight, nor passengers neither." Marsh wiped his lips on his napkin, and regarded the stranger across the table. The food had restored him, and now he felt like his own self again, in command of the situation. York's eyes were intense, to be sure, but there was nothing there to fear.

"You need my money, Captain," York said. "Why are you telling me this? Aren't you afraid I will find another partner?"

"I don't work that way," Marsh said. "Been on the river thirty years, York. Rafted down to New Orleans when I was just a boy, and worked flatboats and keelboats both before steamers. I been a pilot and a mate and a striker, even a mud clerk. Been everything there is to be in this business, but one thing I never been, and that's a sharper."

"An honest man," York said, with just enough of an edge in his voice so Marsh could not be sure if he was being mocked. "I am glad you saw fit to tell me the condition of your company, Captain. I knew it already, to be sure. My offer stands."

"Why?" Marsh demanded gruffly. "Only a fool throws away money. You don't look like no fool."

The food arrived before York could answer. Marsh's chickens were crisped up beautifully, just the way he liked them. He sawed off a leg and started in hungrily. York was served a thick cut of roasted beef, red and rare, swimming in blood and juice. Marsh watched him attack it, deftly, easily. His knife slid through the meat as if it were butter, never pausing to hack or saw, as Marsh so often did. He handled his fork like a gentleman, shifting hands when he set down his knife. Strength and grace; York had both in those long, pale hands of his, and Marsh admired that. He wondered that he had ever thought them a woman's hands. They were white but strong, hard like the white of the keys of the grand piano in the main cabin of the Eclipse.

"Well?" Marsh prompted. "You ain't answered my question."

Joshua York paused for a moment. Finally he said, "You have been honest with me, Captain Marsh. I will not repay your honesty with lies, as I had intended. But I will not burden you with the truth, either. There are things I cannot tell you, things you would not care to know. Let me put my terms to you, under these conditions, and see if we can come to an agreement. If not, we shall part amiably.&


Excerpted from Fevre Dream by George R. R. Martin Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

George R. R. Martin is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of many novels, including the acclaimed series A Song of Ice and Fire—A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, A Feast for Crows, and A Dance with Dragons—as well as Tuf Voyaging, Fevre Dream, The Armageddon Rag, Dying of the Light, Windhaven (with Lisa Tuttle), and Dreamsongs Volumes I and II. He is also the creator of The Lands of Ice and Fire, a collection of maps from A Song of Ice and Fire featuring original artwork from illustrator and cartographer Jonathan Roberts, and The World of Ice & Fire (with Elio M. García, Jr., and Linda Antonsson). As a writer-producer, Martin has worked on The Twilight Zone, Beauty and the Beast, and various feature films and pilots that were never made. He lives with the lovely Parris in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Brief Biography

Santa Fe, NM
Date of Birth:
September 20, 1948
Place of Birth:
Bayonne, NJ
B.S., Northwestern University, 1970; M.S., Northwestern University, 1971

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Fevre Dream 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is my second favorite vampire novel--after 'Salem's Lot. Martin takes the now-almost-trite vampire novel and injects with a healthy dose of originality and action. The melding of vampires and late-1800's riverboats is fresh, ingenious and inventive, and Abner Marsh is about as different from Ann Rice's genteel androgynous protagonists as is possible. Marsh is a man's man--a riverboat man, dammit, which is exactly what is needed when the story careens to its thrilling, action-packed climax. Don't go looking for deep literary themes or dark psychosexual metaphors here. This is a gripping page-turner of a yarn, blending horror fiction and fast-paced adventure in the tradition of the genre's grand old masters: Shelly and Stoker.
CWrightHT More than 1 year ago
Fevre Dream is a wonderful novel combining vampires and the days steamboats ruled the Mississippi. It takes you from the building of an ornate steamer to the history of the vampires and to an exciting takeover and chase down the Mississippi River. Abner Marsh is the widely revered Captain on the Fevre Dream and does all that he can to protect it from any danger. In a thrilling twist, he destroys another boat and outruns his own down the river. Fevre Dream has an ending that I never saw coming, and tied up the book perfectly. I enjoyed this book immensely. Fevre Dream is a book any vampire fan would love. Even if you aren't into vampires this book would be a great read. From the first chapter on I was captivated by the stories of the mighty steamboats of the rivers. I felt like I was actually on the rivers in the 1850's. George Martin should receive credit where credit is due, this book is fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book many years ago, and it remains one of my absolute favorites. I own it in hardback and recently added it to my NOOK. I recommend it to anyone.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Fevre Dream is one of those stories that stayed with me. I dont plan to loan this one out. If you enjoy a good read, don't miss this one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a huge fan of Anne RIce and George R R Martin's vampires are not Anne Rice's vampires but the story is excellent and sucks you right in. His version of how vampires exist is enthralling and magical. I wish there was a sequel.
tehsay More than 1 year ago
After having just finished reading the latest OSOIAF, I wanted more GRRM, and frankly, a novel with an ending. I had heard many good things about this novel, so I gave it a shot. What a great read! I felt 10x as fulfilled reading this than A Dance With Dragons, to be honest. It's the same classic liquid prose we're accustomed to with GRRM, and a story that actually wraps up! The characters are amazing, the action well-paced, and the ending one that I can be happy with. Definitely one of, if not THE best, vampire thrillers I've come across.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book years ago after I had started reading the Ice and Fire series. I loved it so much I read it twice. Truly original and stays with you. A can't miss adventure.
Retorak More than 1 year ago
This was a nice departure from the land of Westeros. This was the first non-Game of Thrones book I've read by Martin. While it wasn't as good as GoT, it was still a very well written book. The plot was novel, most of the characters had depth, and it didn't use the standard horror/adventure/sci-fi vampire.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No ice and fire, but a good take on vampire lore
John Kash More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book because I like grrm. I found the book to be good. I like the spin on vampires and I like the setting in the civil war era south. Grrm is a better writer today so the bar was high for this book in my mind.
Anonymous 7 months ago
A total different perception in light of vampire genres. Dark, mysterious, and down right entertaining. After reading all the series of Fire and Ice, I wanted to check out another work of this author. It did not disappoint. Read it rather quickly. Loved the story, very vivid and was swept away in the story. (Of course, being a New Orleans native, I was quickly captivated by the steam boat on the river plot). I totally recommend this read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked it more than I thought I would. I just wanted something to read while waiting for the next Game of Thrones book and I enjoyed it to my surprise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Fantastic read! Couldn't put it down. I am addicted to his books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
suspend19 More than 1 year ago
A different veiw of the old Steam Boats on the main rivers..and vampires .
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wish the epilogue gave a bit more info though!
Darkstarr More than 1 year ago
Really good book. Different take on vampires.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting read. Different than the usual vamp novel. Just the location change alone made it more interesting. The characters were well written and engaging. It was hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not scary as in horror, but quite suspenseful as you try to determine whose story to believe. Plus the Mississippi river has always been a place of mystery and eeriness. I hated to see this story end. And it is much different from his Game of Thrones series, of which I have read all. I highly recommend this story for a stormy night.
ChristianH-BN More than 1 year ago
I've been working through G.R.R.M.s books lately. While I haven't read any other vampire novels, I enjoyed Fevre Dream.
the_Bleu_Lobster More than 1 year ago
I was unable to put this book down. Easily the best book dealing with vampire mythology that I have read.