The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia Series #3)

The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia Series #3)

by Walter Moers


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The search for the author’s identity takes Yarnspinner to Bookholm—the so-called City of Dreaming Books. On entering its streets, our hero feels as if he has opened the door of a gigantic second-hand bookshop. His nostrils are assailed by clouds of book dust, the stimulating scent of ancient leather, and the tang of printer’s ink. Soon, though, Yarnspinner falls into the clutches of the city's evil genius, Pfistomel Smyke, who treacherously maroons him in the labyrinthine catacombs underneath the city, where reading books can be genuinely dangerous. In The City of Dreaming Books, Walter Moers transports us to a magical world where reading is a remarkable adventure. Only those intrepid souls who are prepared to join Yarnspinner on his perilous journey should read this book. We wish the rest of you a long, safe, unutterably dull and boring life!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781590201114
Publisher: The Overlook Press
Publication date: 09/02/2008
Series: Zamonia Series , #3
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 147,432
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Walter Moers is the author of The 13 1/2 Lives of Captain Bluebear, Rumo, A Wild Ride Through the Night, The City of Dreaming Books, and The Alchemaster's Apprentice, all published by Overlook.

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The City of Dreaming Books (Zamonia Series #3) 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Eagle_and_Child More than 1 year ago
I have read all of Walter Moers works, and this is by far his best. I am an obsessive reader, and this is in my all time top ten. Such a miraculous tale filled with adventure, suspense, hope, all that you could want. This is an ideal book for any book lover. A book about a city of books which sits atop catacombs filled with books. Written by a man who obviously is madly in love with books. A bibliophile cannot ask for a better piece of art. Read this, you won't regret it.
Nichole Wagner More than 1 year ago
My newest favorite book. A little chunk of bliss in a book. Did not want to put it down until I was done and then wanted to cry because it was over. Happiness in print.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Always looking for something a little different to read, I stumbled across this book. What a delightfully different book with as many twists and turns as the catacombs beneath Bookholm! I couldn't put it down.
Oklahomabooklady More than 1 year ago
Optimus Yarnspinner destiny is to become a writer. Some of the best Zamomian literature has come from Lindworm Castle where Optimus lives.

When his authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright, passes away he lives Optimus a mysterious manuscript. After reading it he decides he must find the author.

So he sets off for the only place a mysterious author might be found, Bookholm.

"Bookholm had more than five thousand officially registered antiquarian bookshops and roughly an thousand semi-legal establishments that sold, in addition to books, alcoholic beverages, tobacco, and intoxicating herbs and essences whose ingestion was reputed to enhance your pleasure and powers of concentration when reading. There was also an almost incalculable number of itinerant vendors with printed matter of every conceivable kind for sale in shoulder bags or in handcarts, in wheelbarrows and mobile bookcases. Bookholm boasted over six hundred publishing houses, fifty-five printers, a dozen paper mills and a steadily growing number of factories producing lead type and printers ink. There were shops offering thousands of different bookmarks and ex-libris, stonemasons specializing in bookends, cabinetmakers workshops and furniture stores filled with lecterns and bookcases, opticians who manufactured spectacles and magnifying glasses, and coffeeshops on ever street corner."

Optimus was in a booklovers paradise. He spends the next couple days just wandering through the city. He even sees his first bookhunter! He happens upon a building with a sign outside saying it was "The Chamber of Hazardous Books". The Vulphead outside tells passerby to make out their wills before entering. There are books that can bite, strangle and fly. Optimus decides against going in. He also gets to see the "Graveyard of Forgotten Writers" (not an actual graveyard), "Poison Alley" and "Editorial Lane".
He makes a few attempts at finding the author to the manuscript he carries. Either no one knows or is unwilling to talk about who the author is.
Finally he finds someone whom he thinks will help him. Poor Optimus is tricked and banished deep within the catacombs of the city. Opitmus is in for an adventure of a lifetime if he can only survive trying to find his way out of the catacombs.

I truly enjoyed reading this book. I loved reading the descriptions of the city and the titles of some of the books Optimus finds. Walter Moers has written several books set in this same world of Zamomian. If you haven't had a chance to read this I think most readers will enjoy this book. I enjoyed his other book called "the 13 1/2 lives of Captain Bluebear".
Guest More than 1 year ago
To sum up this novel - it is yet another stroke of genius by German author Walter Moers. His previous books took us into the continent of Zamonia, and this book does it once more. Comical drawings done by Moers himself only add to the exciting and captivating setting of this novel. A good book with no doubt.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Incredible book; the story engulfs you and don’t let you go, not that you would want to....
amandrake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I worked in, ran, or owned a bookstore for 15 years. When you do that, you see a lot of the same thing. You start to long for things that are not only good, but have a sort of quirky je ne sais quoi. So for those like me, HERE is a book worth reading!People seem to love to compare Moers to all kinds of writers, but to me he falls into the rather slim category with *The Phantom Tollbooth* and the Moomintroll books - though I'm not sure what to call that category. "Young adult, somewhat conceptual, occasionally metaphysical, with illustrations in a cartoon-like style and an occasionally bizarre sense of humor?"
Laurenbdavis on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fantastic book. Beautiful language. Original. Not only is it a work of astounding imagination and sparkling whimsy, but it's also a scathing satire on all things literary. Full of the darkest sort of humor, no one is spared -- not writers, critics, editors, agents, booksellers, or readers. As a writer myself, I found it hilarious, poignant, uplifting and humbling, all at once. It's also a rollicking good tale!
sheherazahde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked "The City of Dreaming Books" by Walter Moer. It is fanciful story with lots of cute illustrations by the author. This is the story of Optimus Yarnspinner a "Lindworm" (dragon) from Lindworm castle, of course. All Lindworms come from Lindworm Castle and all Lindworms are natural born Authors. After the death of his godfather, Optimus Yarnspinner goes to "The City of Dreaming Books" to find the author of a mysterious manuscript that he inherited. The City of Dreaming Books is full of bookshops, publishers, agents, authors, and book hunters. He meets lots of strange creatures, eats strange food, and goes on a bit of an adventure.It is a very literary story, in the sense that it is about books and authors. It has a lot of references that adults will enjoy, such as literary agents who can not tell good writing from bad and famous authors disguised by scrambling their names (and some of their most famously quoted words). I was reminded of "The Phantom Tollbooth".Unfortunately the writing is a little heavy handed in places. The author occasionally repeats himself as if afraid we will miss a plot point. The main character is a bit pompous and unlikable at times. Altogether the writing is not as inspired as the author would like it to be. Which makes it a good book rather than a Great one. Although one can not be sure how much of this is a fault of the translation.
grizzly.anderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moers's third Zamonia book is full of his terrific cartoon illustrations, his love of puns, and all the delightfully odd characters he's known for. It is also a better book that Captain Bluebear. While Bluebear is at times a fast-paced travelogue of Zamonia, trying to cram in every possible place and every possible species, The City of Dreaming Books uses a more limited palate. We follow Optimus Yarnspinner, a Lindworm (dinosaur) from his home in Lindworm Castle to Bookholm, and the catacombs underneath. Compared to Bluebear, Optimus spends incredibly amounts of time in one place, helping us get to know the place and the people who live there - Bookholm, the bookhunters, the booklings, and the Shadow King particularly. A few times it reverts to a catalog-like listing of places, events, and creatures, as when Optimus meets a half dozen of the worst denizens of the catacombs in short order or the made-to-order Disney/Indiana Jones ride through abandoned tunnels on a rickety mine car, excuse me, I meant book shelf.And, if you enjoy puzzles there are a few thrown in. On two pages not too far in to the book is everything you need to decipher the bookholm numbering system (though there are plenty of hints elsewhere) and the booklings really are all named after real authors. Some are more obvious than others, but everything you need to know is right there in the name. The illustrations are good. The story is entertaining. Does it flow with the Orm? Maybe not, but it is worth the time.
patrickdjoyce on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt the most bizarre story I've ever read; however, as utterly alien as I found the lizard-like protagonist and his book-obsessed world (a fantasy milieu of shady, desperate, vengeful and mysterious nonhumans that I suspect might be more recognizable to readers better acquainted with the Earthly publishing business than I), it held me fast, and with every further descent below the surface of its eponymous city, drew me deeper - and served well as a palliative across many sleepless nights during a stressful time. As in The Name of the Rose and Shadow of the Wind, the author subsumes its mysteries under the grand allegory of a labyrinthine library, which seems to stand for both inner mind and outer world.
readingthruthenight on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Where shadows dim with shadows mate in caverns deep and dark, where old books dream of bygone days when they were wood and bark, where diamonds from coal are born and no birds ever sing, the region is the dread domain ruled by the Shadow King."This book was a complete impulse buy. I read the back and loved the idea of it. I mean sheesh, the books are ALIVE and the setting is a world created where books are the one and only important thing in life. You are a reader, a writer, or a publisher. A book seller or illustrator. There's dangerous books in the catacombs of this city too. They attack. They are real mean, yo.Optimus Yarnspinner (haha, everytime I say Optimus in my head I immediately go retro to my 80's love and want to end it with Prime)...but I digress. Optimus (for short) has just lost his mentor and godfather. The last gift given was an unpublished manuscript. Optimus reads it and is blown away with how beautiful it is written, in fact, he claims it is the best piece of literature that he has ever read. Unfortunately, the manuscript is written anonymously. Optimus decides his mission is to leave his home and seek out the writer. He must go to Bookholm - the City of Dreaming Books.This is where Optimus's life goes haywire. People are after him because of the manuscript. And people that he thinks he can trust, he can't. Which is how he ends up in the catacombs. And lurking amongst the terrifying books is the Shadow King, determined to kill all who enter his turf.I really really REALLY want everyone of you to turn off your computer and run to your bookstore and purchase this book. It was that good. The names are clever too. He anagrams famous writers. I don't want to give any away to see if you can figure them out. Or better thought, maybe I'll have a contest listing a few of my favorites. *scratching head* and *looking around* at my book loot.This is also apart of a series (evidently). I think that the rest are published in the states but I don't get the sense that you have to read them in order. I didn't after all, and never felt lost in this book. Oh and gosh, there are so many wonderful little tidbit quotes. My book is tagged EVERYWHERE.
ontoursecretly on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moers makes the common fantasy author's mistake of getting too carried away with his own creation, and his story becomes a dark, tiresome, cumbersome labyrinth resembling the world it describes. It amounts to not much more than a stack of descriptions of dozens of nightmarish creatures with too few or too many legs, a list of horrible ways to die, and an encyclopedia of psychotic conditions with not much story in between. Although technically laden with plenty of "action," it's of the never-ending-hence-never-occurring-climax variety. Add to this monotony the constant use of the phrase "dear reader" (occasionally "faithful reader") by a narrator who takes the form of an egotistic, slow-witted dinosaur, and you have a thoroughly boring book about books.
faliah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
At first, the style of writing almost dissuaded me from continuing further. A translation of a translation? Sounded a little hokey to me. But as I went on, the plot started to amuse me. Once I figured out that all authors and quotes mentioned are anagrams, I got really into it. I didn't, however, find it distracting like a previous reviewer. I found it added to my experience. I enjoyed the second part of the novel much more than the first. At times the plot was slow, but it always picked back up again to come to a satisfying conclusion. I loved the pictures throughout!
4daisies on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Don't you love the title of this book? I decided to name my home The Dwelling of Dreaming Books. Although it is obviously not a whole City, it also has hundreds of books "sleeping/dreaming" away on shelves and in stacks and piles all around waiting to be woken up by someone picking them up or pulling them down off the shelf and opening them to read. I enjoyed this book enough to keep plugging away to the end, but the author could have used a good editor. He tended to get very long-winded in certain passages. I think he may have even realized that as the "translator's note" (it is written as if translated from the original Zambonian Language"), pleads that the original book was several thousand pages longer than what was included here but if he had included it all, the reader would be reading for a very long long time. I myself wondered if I would ever finish. Not sure that I will be rushing to pick up another Zambonia book in the series, but I might. The need to learn more about this wonderful place, might override my caution, I will just be prepared to dig in for a long haul.
jovemako on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I really liked this one. It was the perfect adventure for a book-a-holic.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A tale of a young reptilian author who sets off on an adventure and quest to Bookholm, a city filled with publishing houses, bookshops, authors, critics and everything else literary. He soon meets with danger, as all adventurers should.It isn't easy to define my reactions to this book. At times it felt like Dante's Inferno, others it resembled Victor Hugo. What suspense and action there was, soon devolved into endless description or narrative. Clever description and narrative, but not compelling. That being said, I still enjoyed all the allusions and poking fun at literary devises, publishers, writers, readers and reviewers. I don't think there is much in the world of writing that Walter Moers didn't touch on.
vpfluke on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't have time to write a proper review, but I wan to add to previous reviews. The journey of Optimus Yarnspinner (the aurian narrator) has mythic qualities to it in the subterranean Bookholm. Part of his journey on an underground train has aspects of steampunk to it. The ending is Nordic with a bookish 'Ragnarok'.
taramatchi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was like riding a roller coaster for me. Some parts were slow and almost dragged on, especially the beginning, then I would read parts that were almost genius. Overall, it was a fantasy story that I felt mirrored what it must be like for aspiring authors. Although, a fantasy world, it brought to life the cut throat world of publishing a story. Would the young writer, a lindworm dinosaur be able to write his first book after his amazing adventure in the catacombs, or would he be slaughtered before he could find his inspiration. I think that question is what kept me reading even through the slower parts of the book. The ending was far superior than the beginning, but my favorite part was his time with the cute little booklings who devoted their lives to reading and memorizing their favorite authors.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Optimus Yarnspinner is an aspiring author and a dinosaur living in Zamonia. As an inhabitant of Lindworm castle, he has had the best training under the tutelage of his authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright. On his deathbed, Dancelot bequeaths a manuscript to Optimus, a brilliant short story by an unknown author, and commissions his godson to go to Bookholm to discover the writer.This is an endlessly inventive tale that mixes the ridiculous (literary dinosaurs) with smart bookish humor (author names that Optimus lists are anagrams of famous authors in our world). The odd mixture puts me in mind of the Thursday Next series, though in many ways the stories themselves are completely different. But if you have a good imagination, enjoy discovering literary references in unexpected places, and didn't mind the footnoterphone or the Cheshire Cat as librarian in The Well of Lost Plots, then I would recommend Moers' creative yarn. Though the fourth in a series, The City of Dreaming Books was the first that I read and I had no trouble reading it as a standalone. It runs a little long towards the end, but it was such a fun ride that I want to check out the rest of the series.
omphalos02 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moers returns with his third book to be translated into English. Endlessly inventive, Moers directs this tale at a more adult audience. Although I had some trouble with the literary devices that he unashamedly employs (he even makes The Shadow King joke about this), I still had fun and found myself rather involved in this book - albeit after a slow start. (In fact, if I had not read other Moers books, I would most likely have abandoned this work.) Quite fun overall.
LynnB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I don't often read fantasy -- and I'm not really sure what made me pick up this cross between Lord of the Rings and Shrek. But, I'm glad I did. This is the story of Optimus Yarnspinner, born to be an author, but unable to find the inspiration to actually write anything. He goes off in search of an unknown author who has written a perfect manuscript. And, that's where the adventure begins, full of quests (heroic and otherwise), fascinating, and imaginative creatures (one-eyed booklings who memorize texts as nourishment; animatomes or living books, bookhunters and more). It's a universe where all things revolve around books.Great story, wildly imaginative, intriguing use of language.
drneutron on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
What a fantastic book! I absolutely loved it.
melydia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the tradition of Jansson's Moomintrolls and Juster's Phantom Tollbooth, here we have a story told by Optimus Yarnspinner, a dinosaurish creature whose entire life revolves around books. As our tale opens, Yarnspinner's authorial godfather, Dancelot Wordwright, is on his deathbed. He gives Yarnspinner a short story that is so good that it caused him to stop writing. Yarnspinner then journeys to Bookholm, a city entirely devoted to writing and bookselling, to track down this amazing writer. This book is a real treat for bibliophiles. The illustrations are darling and the literary references are fun to spot. Not a book I probably would have picked up on my own; I'm glad I gave it a try.
Nichi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is dear to my heart. A book about a city of books, book stores, book lovers, editors, authors etcpp. A dream come true.This book takes you on a journey of a wanna-be author searching for the source of his inspiration and ultimately for the answer to the question "what is inspiration anyway". It's about finding your way in life and about appreciating art in a way that has been forgotten in our society. In this book, art is alive. It's on the pages, between the lines and it's talking in the story.You have to be able to follow Moers into a fantasy world to appreciate this book. If you cannot relate to a saurian who wants to write prose, then you'll have a problem... Try to read it anyway, please.