The Mirror Empire review ☆ 3



10 thoughts on “The Mirror Empire

  1. says:

    Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews One of the difficult things about reviewing books for me personally is having to write a less than favorable opinion Not that I can’t be just as negative as the next person because obviously it’s not hard to close a novel and say to a friend “Don’t waste your time That story sucked” Nope my problem is trying to isolate why I did not appreciate a novel analyze if my issues are just that my issues or a real deficiency of the story and then write an honest review For those of you who don’t write reviews please understand that it is difficult to be both honest and also objective Mainly because – if you love books – you want to adore every one of them that you read if for no other reason than you’ve invested your precious time trying them and when that doesn’t happen your initial reaction as a human is to say “I hate it” and leave it at that But a reviewer can’t do that It just isn’t fair to anyone interested in reading the book So as I sit here wanting to say “The Mirror Empire isn’t that good Don’t read it” I know I have to attempt to explain why I feel that wayFirst I want to establish up front that I was excited to read The Mirror Empire When I initially saw the kick ass cover and read the novel description it looked tailored made for my tastes multi viewpoint narrative huge world cross world warfare and gender bender characters When you factor in Kameron Hurley’s recent Hugo award you might understand how an epic fantasy lover like me would be breathlessly waiting to fall in love with the Worldbreaker saga And to be fair this novel absolutely delivers on several of its promisesThat spectacular new world it is here In fact there are two rather than one for a reader to sink their fantasy teeth into filled with numerous countries races deep history ongoing wars and sentient plant life that range from those symbiotic to womankind to those completely predatory Naturally these worlds are teeming with magic a very well thought out system of magic whereby it is controlled by a person’s innate ability and her attunement to one of several moons that orbit the planet As certain moons ascend and descend in the heavens a mage’s power waxes and wanes as does her magical sect’s worldly power and influence As for the warrior women promised by the book description they appear one after another complex and powerful females who take their turn in the spotlight empowered both physically and emotionally as unuestioned masters of all that they survey No ma’am these ladies do not concern themselves with exerting their euality to their male counterparts because they are superior in every way a natural state of affairs that is beyond doubt But as I slowly devoured and digested all these essential and delectable fantasy morsels I began to have a little bit of heartburn Please pardon the pun but I couldn’t help myself I didn’t know exactly why – though there were a few things nagging at me as I read First the complete lack of any strong male characters did bother me The fact that male characters were taught that they were “unnatural” didn’t sit well with me Kai Ahkio the most prominent male character in the novel being constantly berated for being male and told that he is a poor substitute for a strong female leader was annoying And yes the book did read at times like a mirror version of a Robert E Howard sword and sorcery tale complete with childlike men waiting for their rescue by muscle bound females ready to rip their clothes off and mount up on their throbbing manhood But I’d known going in that The Mirror Empire was a female dominated story so even though the lack of strong men was an issue it was not enough to trump the good parts of the story Then something else reared its ugly head rape – except this time women were raping men Now I’m not a prude; I realize rape happens In fact as an attorney I’ve defended rapists than I can count on both hands But I’m also not a big proponent of rape as a narrative device in literature It seems so overused as a shock effect that I don’t enjoy it Even in Mark Lawrence’s grimdark masterpiece Prince of Thorns I was a bit bothered by Jorg Ancrath’s casual raping of girls at the beginning of the book because it didn’t seem necessary or relevant to the story Jorg doesn’t go on to become a serial rapist but a serial murderer Hell I even agreed with people who very emotionally argued that no one should view Jorg as a hero after he casually went around raping girls So how could I uphold a female author allowing one of her “female heroes” to rape and brutalize men?Perhaps I should introduce our heroic rapist first before I answer that uestion Let us welcome Zezili Hasario Captain General of the Empress of Dorinah who shows casual indifference to cruelty a perverted sense of love and a total acceptance of mass murder – even as she goes about trying to save the world Where Jorg raped two young girls Zezili purchased herself a beautiful man spent her leisure time sexually torturing him and justified it by saying “He is the one thing in my life I controlled completely And I loved him for it” Indeed after their wedding Zezili’s husband Anavha says “Zezili made me strip in her bedroom cuffed me across the mouth drawing blood told me to kneel took my chin in her hand and said ‘You’re mine All of you Every bit of you You’ll service my sisters because it’s proscribed’ then cut her initials into my flesh licked at the blood of my wound reached for me and found me erect then said ‘Well they paired me well’ ” And then Anahva goes on to describes his continued life with our hero Zezili as follows“Zezili was a brutal mistress; demanding violent She entertained herself with me until my vision was hazy pain and desire twisting my insides turning my voice to a high pitched wail begging for release Yet when she finished with me I felt somehow obscene disassembled I sat awake at night and cut myself while she was away wondering if Zezili would mourn if I died or simply have me replaced as she would her dog ”Yeah Zezili’s behavior sounds at least eual to Jorg Ancrath’s psychopathic rape of two girls Actually there is even about Zezili and her husband but I think the above illustrates the nature of their relationship Just so you know later Anavha also gets raped by another woman warrior but it wasn’t Zezili so I didn’t see the need to uote that section of the storySo after reading all that did the accepted brutalization of men their sexual torture and casual rape at the hands of women bother me? Well I’m sorry to admit that I once again talked myself out of holding the brutalization against this book “Stop having such a closed mind” I told myself “Okay men are sex toys There is probably lots of fantasy out there that still portray women that way” Hell I even used this one “Ms Hurley has put a little bit of Fifty Shades of Grey in a fantasy and Zezili is Christian Grey so what? It is her pushing the boundaries of the genre; nothing wrong with that” But even as I convinced myself to put aside the lack of male characters and the brutalization of men I was slapped in the face by something else ritualistic cannibalismYeah these fantasy people cannibalize each others Okay Certain Native Americans did it before the arrival of the Europeans I know I’ll just put that “shocking” fact on the list with the others I’m sure human hearts taste like chicken anywayNext on the “shock” list we have Drumroll please no heterosexual charactersOkay It seemed a little odd that no one – even just one person – might be heterosexual and not bisexual But that was fine I accepted it and moved onBit by bit it also became apparent that everyone in this world practiced polygamy Okay Old Testament of the Bible reversed with the women marrying multiple males and females Then we have a male character Roh being taken as a sexual slave to an adult near the end of the bookAnyone else beginning to see a pattern here?Ms Hurley appeared to be pulling out all the stops to “shock” her readers Now why would an author do that?Perhaps it is because the story itself is deficient?Unfortunately that was the case in my opinion Let me explain First none of the main characters in this epic were very compelling In fact they were almost instantly forgettable Zezili? I’m not big on rapist and mass murderers but even setting that aside the general was fairly boring doing little except killing defenseless people in prison camps Ahkio? Everyone around him thinks him a weak whiny man and even though he tries he spends a great deal of time pining away over men and women his horrible fate and generally being exactly what all his enemies accusing him of being a weak whiny man manipulated by his female handlers Roh? According to the women in the book he is an idiotic boy not much else you can add Lilia? I actually liked her thought her story was compelling but lost interest in it by the end due to the constant back and forth nature of her travels Naturally there are other characters but these are the ones I actually remember Second the concept of mirror worlds and their convergence had some glaring inconsistences in its explanation and application that kept cropping up in the story Things that I would read and go “Wait that can’t be the case because of the explanation two chapters ago” After a while I stopped caring whether the cross world action made sense anyThird the multi viewpoint narrative Almost all epic fantasy series seem to have this type of setup these days and it definitely can work However the writer must make the individual tales relevant to the narrative as a whole but keep them different enough that each one is compelling on its own and filled with new situations In The Mirror Empire it seemed that the numerous stories got away from Ms Hurley; they began to spread out into a mass of tangled threads that I personally needed a flowchart to keep up with but they also began to get so repetitive that they blurred together until I found it hard to recall whose story I was actually reading at a given timeNeedless to say I did not love The Mirror Empire With its mirror world concept the book had a wonderful foundation upon which to build a riveting fantasy epic However just like a solid foundation does not assure a beautiful house Ms Hurley’s spectacular fantasy ideas did not guarantee an engrossing story and perhaps she realized this which is why she began to rely so heavily on “shocking” elements However all the reversal of sexual roles rape sexual torture ritualistic cannibalism mass murder and teenage sex slaves in two universe can’t conceal when a story is convoluted and dull at the same timeI received this book from Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review I’d like to thank both of them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone


  2. says:

    Trust There’s a certain amount of trust you’ll need when it comes to reading a challenging book such as thisBook that is a masterpiece in every way But book that makes you feel uncomfortableClever political unapologetic and daring But will achieve that by uestionable deeds of uestionable charactersPacked with vivid imagination and originality like none before But it will be confusing if not given proper attentionBook that’s different Book that is very differentSo you need to trust that author intently wanted to uestion you to ask of you to shake you from most of those fantasy trope narratives you used to read about and make you follow her story the way she wanted to tell you – You unprejudiced unbiased and uninfluenced by any political or social norm you know of And not for the clear sake of aw or enjoyment of uickly passing time while reading her book But simply for the sake of experience of leading an uncomfortable conversation Mostly with yourself Is it worth it? Trusting this author to read such a book? Book that will ask you to open your mind clear it perhaps so that you can uestion real world around you? Always So what exactly is Mirror Empire ?Usually here I draw a comparison to what a book mostly resembles to “It’s This VS That” etc In this case such comparison eludes me There’s nothing I can remember that is remotely similar to a world in this book World of two suns Shar and Mora Four moons blue Para green Tira and purple Sina At the very end of archway nearly dark satellite elusive Oma When a proper moon is in orbit a certain magic user so called Jista can draw power from it So when a blue moon Para is in its zenith now Para Jista can draw its maximum power He can do it either for healing or maybe some other vicious purposeAll moons except Oma uite regularly orbit around the world and after 2000 years of hiding dark satellite emerges on the sky And when Oma approaches – destruction comes with itOma grants its few users that cling in the world still – very useful power They can open gates portals to another many of parallel worlds that exists And in one for them not so merry day we encounter a mother an OmaJista user desperately trying to protect her daughter from attacking foe This is how we get introduced to Lilia Sona and watch her escape to another parallel world Through this book we follow 5 POV characters And I will tell you one thing you will like none of them Not because they are poorly written no Actually they are extraordinarily written characters and by the end of the book none of them is the same character you met at the beginning So character progression is thereFor instance Lilia Sona She starts as a kind perhaps a main protagonist type kid You root for her she deeply cares for others and she’s smart naïve and falls in various misadventures mostly not by her mistakeAnd here comes that character progression At misadventure #973 she decides that she had had enoughShe decides she’ll take matters in her own hands But that doesn’t stop misadventure #974 from happening Neither #975 nor #976 etcFunny thing is as you’re realizing she’s simply going from bad to worse – so does she And as desperate times calls for desperate measures she does something that draws out reaction from you like “Bch you didn’t?” uite literally D And you lose your interest and don’t want to follow her any but That’s not the end of her characters progressionTake the book read the rest yourselfOK so that’s one What about the rest of the characters?Second one is Zezili Hasaria Awesome name Terrible person She’s a Wait have I mentioned this world is run by women? No? OhSo basically one of the uestions author asks is “What would have happened if a world is run mostly by women?” Same st if it was run mostly by men Take that however you wantZezili Grand Captain Lives to serve her Empress Gets the assignment to slaughter innocent pacifistsAfter genocide #15 she realizes that assignment doesn’t sit very well with her So she takes a leave goes home and rapes her husband RepeatedlyStill here? Fascinating Here’s a uote “We have one shot at this” Zezili said “so don’t fuck it up” Looking at the filthy scar faced girl next to her Zezili suspected all the girl ever did was fuck up” – Zezili’s befitting thoughts on LiliaShe has few uips “I long ago gave up trying to understand her motivations She is eual parts manic brutality and strategic fuckery”– Zezili’s thought on her EmpressAnd some random Zazili’s mumbling “People do not take actions based on logic We make choices based on emotion Every one of us Then we use what we call logic to justify our choices” “And some of us believe in freedom of the individual over the tyranny of the common good” Yes yes yes she’s not that bad no actually she is she’s a monster But as I said – characters progressionNext is Daigan Cyclical transgender assassin Yeah I know – an assassin One of the few who can use power of moon Oma Such a badass Akhio – man just wants to be shepherd and one of the many husbands of certain MeynaEnds up as a substitute leader of an entire nation instead of his now deceased sister Oh and his nation is a nation of cannibals And they eat their dead So he ate his yeahBuuuuuut exactly – characters progression And last and certainly least interesting POV character in this book – Rohimney He’s a dkNo he’s not He’s just boring Until he isn’t Boring that is He is still a dkSo If you are still reading this honestly I don’t know why you are doing that I did everything I could think of to prepare you in case you decide to give this book a tryI uite often tend to say how Steven Erikson with his Malazan Book of the Fallen series is at least 20 years ahead of all of the rest of fantasy writersIt seems to me that Kameron Hurley is first that's able to actually catch up with him earlierThis book is a masterpiece From worldbuilding through characterization to proseBut this book is not for everyone As Francis Bacon said “Some books are to be tasted others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested” No not that one Goddamn it “If a man will begin with certainties he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties”


  3. says:

    No rating Work Structural editWith the caveat that I edited this novel and therefore no rating and here is the processIn the acuisitions meeting for The Mirror Empire I argued very strongly for us to take on Kameron’s novel I thought it was incredibly clever complex and challenging to the reader And I also thought “Good luck to the person who is editing the novel” Then I found out it was meThe reason I wished good luck to the editor? Because of the task involved in ensuring that The Mirror Empire was not too challenging while still retaining all of the flavour and the authorial voice and allowing Kameron’s ambitious vision to be realisedBecause I am the editor of this novel I cannot provide a review of The Mirror Empire so instead I am going to tell you about the experience of editing itOn a personal level I would say sincerely that were it not for my experience with analysing the Malazan series for Torcom I would not have been able to edit The Mirror Empire That series taught me patience in waiting for reveals trusting the author to know where they were taking plotlines and recognising that every now and then we as readers do need to be faced by a work that makes us think and expands our horizonsOn another personal level I had edited YA novels mostly to this point and the idea of tackling well over 700 Word pages of manuscript was like a personal EverestAnd finally on yet another personal level I was starstruck Yep I still get this way with authors I admire How can I possibly tell an author who is such an effective wordsmith that they can improve their work?Well that is the role of an editor To take the novel in front of you and consider what is going to make it better How is the pacing? Is the author effectively carrying their reader with them? Is every scene necessary to drive forward the plot? With The Mirror Empire I felt that in the form it originally came to me the start of the novel was confusing in how each storyline related to each other and the timeline involved So my first reuest was to have some scenes switched around in order to have the reader invested from the word go and not to spend too much time asking uestions like ‘How why who?’My next key issue was with the agency of the character Lilia Although she was a young character and therefore probably inclined to follow adult reasoning and decisions rather than making up her own mind I felt that she was incredibly passive She needed agency and work on her storyline to ensure that readers would engage with herIt didn’t take me than a few pages before I wanted a map And when Kameron suggested the idea of a glossary I leapt all over that as well It IS a hard novel and anything that assists the reader in understanding locations and terms rather than having to spend time puzzling them out hence removing them from their immersion in the novel is welcomeThe gender aspect of The Mirror Empire is obviously a key part of what makes it so seminal in the fantasy genre – the understanding that characters do not fit into boxes or onto a very black and white spectrum I had dual concerns about this that I felt Kameron should address One was that it felt as though the gender aspect was rather dropped in after a number of chapters so felt a little bit whiplash I wanted to see it introduced gracefully and gradually The second point was ensuring that at no point did it feel as though the gendersrelationships described were there simply to play with gender – they had to feel organic within the worldMy key style of editing is to always try and approach a novel as though I were a fresh reader – someone who has no idea of the ultimate direction of the story and who is starting this novel with absolutely no preconceptions Because of this the manuscript that I returned to Kameron had lots of uestions ‘I don’t understand why this character is acting in this way?’ ‘How would we know that this had occurred without seeing of it at an earlier stage?’ I acted like a reader who needed to have a really good grasp on all the world and the characters in order to enjoy the novel and so asked the uestions I felt needed answering in order to improve the experience I also suggested gently that Kameron reduce the novel by between 10000 and 20000 words It is a beast of a novel and was even longer when I received it Some scenes felt a little filler so I marked out what I felt could be removed and still keep the novel focusedI guess every editor is apprehensive when they send their editorial letter and the marked up manuscript to their author Obviously WE think that we are making good suggestions but there is always a fear that the author may disagree or feels as though you are changing the ultimate nature of the novel I think that we just have to be as diplomatic as possible and always let the author know that we are editing the novel because we acuired it which means we LOVE it All of the suggestions come from a position of partnership rather than criticism My final point is to refer to the reviews that I read of The Mirror Empire Yes I’ve been reading them I’m so very glad that people are enjoying this novel and indeed finding it clever complex and challenging But please do not fool yourself that when I read something that suggests this section is too difficult or that scene feels surplus or this or that or the other that I don’t kick myself and wonder if it’s something that I should have picked up as Kameron’s editor I wanted this novel to be the very best it could be and I think I helped somewhat so it feels like a personal failure if readers then fail to engage Even when it is just one reader Editors as well as authors sometimes read reviews and have to bite their tongue or take a deep breath and accept valid criticismThank you for reading this insight into how I edited The Mirror Empire and I sincerely hope that you enjoy the novel when you choose to read it


  4. says:

    I had really high hopes for this book Powerful women sentient plants mirror worlds but ultimately I was left disappointedKameron Hurley has created a really interesting world There are multiple universes powers that are governed by satellites that orbit the planet and blood magic People use dogs and bears instead of horses women run the government men are used for little than sex and there are doppelgangers Sounds like the makings of a fascinating book minus the whole ineuality thing and ritualistic cannibalismUnfortunately the world is populated by boring forgettable characters I love the fact that women are so prevalent but they have no personality and are incredibly shallow I had no investment in any of them and eventually got so tired of reading about them that I speed read the last 30% of the novelThere's some plot to this book but it's bogged down by uninteresting characters and confusing factions Some characters change gender randomly and it gets hard to keep track of everyone I enjoyed Hurley's writing style but it wasn't enough to keep me interested I wish she spend time getting the reader invested in the world and characters rather than packing in so much plotAnother problem I had characters often did things because the plot demanded it rather than doing something for their own reasonsmotivation Their actions didn't feel organic and didn't make any sense They would jump from one line of reasoning to a completely different one with no rhyme or reasonI don't know if this book wasn't for me or if it's truly a dud I'll give Hurley the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn't for meD


  5. says:

    3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum to say putting this review together was uite difficult for me on account of how very different it is from the one I thought I would be writing I made it no secret I had high hopes for this one not only because of the buzz the book has gotten since the ramp up to its release or all the glowing reviews it has garnered but also I was personally very excited to finally read my first Kameron Hurley novel Truly I wanted to love this book and was set and prepared to add my praise to the chorus but as a reviewer I also have to be honest with others and with myself when a book does not meet expectationsIn the end I think The Mirror Empire is one of those cases in which I can recognize its literary merits and applaud the author’s designs to challenge the conventions of epic fantasy fiction but the story itself failed to connect with me on any deeper level and I found myself strangely dissatisfied when I completed itFirst a bit about the book The world is about to be shaken up by a cataclysm and as the dark star rises to herald this event you have an orphan girl named Lilia who would anything to fulfill a promise to her mother even if it means putting herself in danger and having to face down unspeakable threats In another place a new Kai ascends to power after the suspicious death of his sister and fights to keep his place and his land together even as legitimacy of his rule is called into uestion Meanwhile a young boy said to be destined for great things undertakes a journey to discover himself and his loyalties for one day he ultimately must choose between sides And on the battlefield an able but brutal general faces a similar predicament caught between her heritage and her oaths to the EmpressAs you can imagine there are a lot of perspectives involved and many characters besides That should have been my first warning sign Don’t get me wrong; I don’t mind a big cast of characters when you’re into epic fantasy I think that sort of comes with the territory However that also means a greater onus on the author to strike a balance when it comes to giving every one of her players enough time to resonate with the reader and to pace their sections accordingly Hurley falters in this area by trying to introduce too many characters both main and supporting without sufficiently developing them – especially in the beginning Not only do the odd sounding names make it harder to remember who’s who but ironically they also make it all the obvious when new major to semi major characters are still being introduced even past the halfway point of the novel It makes it that much hard to sit back and just enjoy the story when so much effort is going towards trying to keep all the characters straightHowever to be fair you should know that I am a “Characters First” kind of reader Arguably I place an inordinate amount of emphasis on characters and how effectively I can engage with them They absolutely don’t have to be admirable or even likeable but I have to care Characters are like the foundation of a story – everything else tumbles like a house of cards if I can’t care about them Naturally anything they do or anything that happens to them isn’t going to impact me in any meaningful way The biggest issue I had with this book is the lack of any strong characters in the sense that none of them were very memorable Hurley doesn’t develop any of them nearly enough and her pacing is haphazard and disorganized so that many long chapters could go by before returning to a perspective character and then I find myself asking “Who are you again?” That shouldn’t be happeningThe only one – ONE out of a half dozen or so main characters and at least four times as many supporting characters – that I found myself interested in was Lilia and that’s likely just because she was the first to be introduced in the prologue Zezili Captain General of the Empress was a close second and probably because Hurley went to great lengths to make her memorable but did so by taking the easy way presenting the general as archetypically evil the cruel mass murderer and an unfeeling lover Everyone else faded into the background which unfortunately made me feel very indifferent towards any events of significance including plot twists or unexpected character deathsBut look I’ve gone on for long enough about the negatives and I don’t want to make it sound like I downright disliked this book because I didn’t; so I think it’s time to talk about the positives There were a lot of things I enjoyed about this book not least of all was the world building So much praise has been heaped onto this facet of the novel and I have to agree 100% with everything that has been said about originality spirit and vividness of the universe and cultures of The Mirror EmpireMy favorite thing about this book is that it is bold it is epic and it is refreshingly different I love the idea of two realms clashing together in a catastrophic world shattering event and also the minute details like the sentient flora and giant carnivorous plants Hurley is a great writer with an incredible imagination and she’s at her best and in her element when she’s actually not trying so hard to turn things on their head or to be over the top I can’t stress how important it is for both authors and readers to examine and confront the status uo and current state of fantasy but doing something for the sake of doing it is also rarely interesting Admittedly Hurley is not at all subtle when it comes to her attempt at subversion in this novel but at the same time I still respect her immensely for her steadfast interrogation of the genreThese days one can probably find some degree of social commentary in many works of speculative fiction; however my favorite ones tend to be those that arrive at their messages organically part and parcel with compelling storytelling starting with well developed characters Since it’s the characters that fell flat for me in this case I just couldn’t immerse myself in the story It certainly wasn’t for the lack of trying but as I’ve explained I’m also aware I have some rather nitpicky and particular tastes Despite my tepid feelings for this novel I believe the accolades are well deserved Sure I didn’t love it but then I’m glad so many others did


  6. says:

    When we held the acuisitions meeting at Angry Robot to decide whether we were going to offer on The Mirror Empire I told my colleagues that I would knife fight a man to get this book on our listHaving read the whole revised novel I would have fought threeOne of my favorite epic fantasies in recent memory Lush intense provocative sophisticated and with an opening seuence straight out of a AAA Xbox One gameJust go ahead and buy this one Trust me


  7. says:

    455 stars Mirror Empire is one of the most unconventional books I’ve read because of its almost ruthless execution of ideas Hurley doesn’t take time to explain anything throwing you straight into the fire on the first page It reminded me a lot of my experience with Erickson’s Gardens of the Moon The world building was rich and vibrant and the plot was so thick it reuired a ton of concentration Even now after finishing my careful read of Mirror Empire I still can’t be totally certain I’ve kept everything straight And that lack of basic accessibility is what makes it difficult to recommend But in my opinion it’s worth the effortHurley surprised me in a couple places at her bold plot decisions a few of which are still lingering with me She’s not afraid to be unconventional in every sense of the word and that break the mold attitude is probably why I’m so drawn to her storytelling The thing is I have seen a lot of the elements she included in Mirror Empire before and have even criticized a few authors lately for trying them The difference seems to be in execution For example the erratic decision making some of the characters exhibited would’ve driven me crazy had it not been written so deftly It just goes to show If you can write superbly you really can get away with a lot Hurley gained my trust early and strengthened it as the book wentLet’s talk about the world building for a minute It was easily my favorite element but that’s usually the case with me I absolutely loved all the uniue flora and fauna which played an active role in the story the different cultures and mannerisms the magic system and the general concept of the story alternate realities my fingers are crossed it doesn’t get too convoluted Reading this truly transported me to an alien world and dazzled me while I was there I may not have a full grasp on what the plot is doing but the cool atmosphere is definitely going to keep me coming back for I’d also like to mention the radical way Hurley played with gender roles It put into a poignant perspective all of the abuse women suffer in fantasy and real life that I usually kind of just glaze over as “typical” in my mind Reading about atrocities done to men in these manners was a bit of a shock because my pre conditioned brain wasn’t prepared for it I’m sure this element will be a point of controversy for some readers but for me it provided an insightful food for thought on some deeply ingrained biases To be clear abuse in any form is unacceptable and I don’t particular enjoy reading about it but I do think it’s good to shake up the status uo every now and then to challenge those biases Another thing I’d like to mention is Hurley’s character construction These people are really flawed aka somewhat normal lol which creates an awesome story of duality where you’re not uite sure who to root for The further I got into the story the unlikable some characters became and vice versa and it perpetuated my interest in them because I don’t have it all figured out at this point That’s actually another reason this book might be hard to recommend – the characters aren’t accessible at all The book gives you a pit in your gut feeling while you’re trying to figure them out – what’s their motive? What are they going to do next? Add to that a few fascinating enigma characters and we have a cast guaranteed to keep you on your toesRecommendations this book hit the spot for me with it’s great world building unconventional writing style and interesting flawed characters It’s hard to recommend because it’s rather dense and inaccessible If you’re looking for a light read this won’t be your jam However if you’re looking to really immerse yourself in a uniue new worlds and don’t mind books that reuire a bit concentration give this one a go I’m reserving final recommendations until I finish the series but so far it’s a strong startVia The Obsessive Bookseller at wwwNikiHawkescomOther books you might like


  8. says:

    There aren’t too many books that make me take a step back and say “Wow” but this is one of them The Mirror Empire had an absolutely amazing beginning one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read and just kind of steamrolled ahead from there It’s hard to describe just mind blowing a read this is It’s an utterly amazing work of epic fantasy with a feminist foundation and an abundance of strong women and which does stunning things with gender roles and relationshipsWhat Kameron Hurley has crafted here in the first book of The Worldbreaker Saga is as much a work of imagination as of ideas It’s different than anything else on the shelves often challenging in places I found myself fighting to catch up and find my place than once in the narrative but what I took away most is the feeling of complete and utter awe This is an epic fantasy in the truest sense of the term set within a naturally hostile almost post apocalyptic environment and framed by an intricate theory of mirror worlds and alternate realitiesLet me try and break the book down a little bit to talk about each of those points above First of all I want to touch on the challenging nature of the narrative Here we have a new world to understand one that’s different than anything we’ve read before We have multiple races and societies with twistedaltered mirror counterparts and a complete subversion of gender and gender roles Hurley really just drops all of this on the reader and doesn’t bother with any sort of info dumps or hand holding The learning curve is immediate and immense and she layers on new challenges throughout The ideas are so fascinating though that you can’t help but eagerly anticipate the next piece of the puzzle The challenge never gets frustrating or tiresome and even if you need to flip back and reread a few sections as you go there is an ultimate payoff for that effortAs for the world building it’s what immediately differentiates the novel Here we have carnivorous overbearing murderous plants and trees that have to be constantly fought back with sword fire and the salting of the earth The concept of the bone trees alone incorporating the splintered bones of their victims into a sort of impenetrable bark is as stunning as it is creepy Even the buildings of Hurley’s world are a product of that environment with a clear distinction between heathen constructions of stone and enlightened halls of living breathing ever growing flora Above that world of eco horrors is a series of moons in the sky orbiting the world in uncertain cycles of years or even centuries and bestowing different magical talents upon those who are able to draw upon each with the structures of power changing as each moon waxes and wanes Beneath those moons carving out their own place in the world are villages and temples that are almost idyllic and easily the most familiar representations of the genreI could write for days and not even begin to explain what Hurley has done with gender and gender roles here but it’s something worth exploring and experiencing For the most part this is a world of matriarchal societies with women taking on the roles of rulers warriors and That however is a gross over simplification There are as many as six genders in the worlds of The Mirror Empire depending upon which society we’re talking about There are assertive males and females passive males and females those who are ungendered and a rare few who can shift and flow between genders Adding to that wealth of diversity the relationships are multi layered and dynamic with polyamorous marriages involving multiple husbands and wives the norm and sexual orientations within those marriages just as fluid as the gender rolesLilia is the hero here and she is surrounded by aided by and challenged by a host of strong women like Ghrasia Maralah Nasaka and Zezili It is through Zezili that we get one of the most intimate looks at gender and gender roles in the novel with her husband Anavha a beautiful submissive man who wears cosmetics and a girdle whom she discourages from unsuitable activities like reading and whom she loans to her sisters for sexual use Theirs is a relationship that subverts the most archaically sexist expectations and yet there is love there – so much love that it spurs Zezili to alter direction and spur actions that will change the fate of worlds And then we have Taigan the genderfluid omajista who pursues Lilia an ataisa who not only changes pronouns but who physically flows through gender changes at great pain to themselvesAs for the mirror worlds themselves they are both the most fascinating and most complex element of the tale The idea of parallel worlds is hardly new and neither is the idea of marauding armies marching from one world to another However what’s uniue about Hurley’s tale is the way in which she plays with the idea of alternate worlds demonstrating how differently each has evolved or progressed as a result of decisions or events in the past What’s she has established her worlds in such a way that each individual has a mirror world counterpart one with whom they cannot coexist So you not only get the idea of parallel worlds and alternate histories but doppelgangers who have usurped their counterparts and insinuated themselves into other worlds twisting empires into driving towards their own defeat To make matters worse or perhaps even dire we are dealing with a story of genocidal warfare with alternate races fighting themselves from the other side It’s darkly philosophical and very very trippy but it all resonatesThe story does suffers from some pacing issues in the middle but once it picks up it careens along towards a pair of climaxes a clash of cultures and societies one of which is almost over too soon and the other of which opens up a whole new world of possibilities for Empire Ascendant Ambitious awesome imaginative and exhausting in eual measure this is a book that is even better the second time aroundhttpsfemledfantasyhomeblog2019


  9. says:

    375 This is a very imaginative and ambitious project the author has tackled I think I didn't get the full intended experience from it because for some reason I went into it thinking it is an Epic Fantasy I made that mistake when the story started with the change in circumstance for a little girl and there is a grand scale war going on in at least two parallel worlds My brain naturally tried to find characters to root for and I was even OK with them being very flawed expecting them to grow into people I could cheer on That was my mistake The deeper into the book I went I started getting aggravated with the choices characters were making with the seemingly needless violence and the rashness of actions which were never concerned with possible conseuences Those are the ones that usually led to tragedies and I felt were used as shortcut to rise ire in the reader or to put the character in unobtainable situations If any of them just stopped to think for a second we would have a much shorter book So after I read for a while I realized that the predominantly female dominant characters had lulled me into not accepting the very obvious this is not an Epic Fantasy with characters fighting for the Dark or Light sides This is a very well though out Grim dark Fantasy and if we didn't have the swap of the traditional male female roles in this world which is going through a cyclic cataclysmic event I would have accepted it as such much faster than I did Once my perception was adjusted it became a much interesting and fulfilling readIn this system of alternate worlds there are two Suns and at least 4 moonssatellites which ascend or decent according to their natural orbits The magic system is connected to those moons and the people who can access their power can draw on it best while their moon is in Ascension The dark moon Oma only ascends every two millennia and every time this happens some of the alternate worlds die and their inhabitants try to open a gate to the world least likely to be destroyed However every person on every world has a doppelganger on every other world and can not cross over unless their double is already dead on the other side Thus mass murders ensue and depending on which side you are on they either seem like the only choice for survival or cruel mindless slaughter This dilemma leaves very little space for characters who are good or evil You as a reader are put in a position to understand all sides and not necessarily agree with their actions but be able to put yourself in their shoes and think what would you do in order to stay alive and help your loved ones survive There are only gray characters with gray choices and murky morals I would not recommend this for very young readers despite some of the main characters being young The violence is a bit too much for the new reader The world is very interesting and the story is fascinating so I am looking forward to the next book


  10. says:

    This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews wwwavidfantasyreviewswordpresscom Every once in a while a novel comes along that is so innovative it has the potential to redefine and an entire genre Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley is such a novel; an epic fantasy that is truly uniue and remarkable Hurley’s first novel God’s War won several awards for best debut novel in 2011 and was nominated for an Arthur C Clark award a Nebula award and a Locus award Hurley is not a newcomer when it comes to writing amazing novels that make the speculative fiction community take notice but Mirror Empire is even ambitious and groundbreaking than any of her previous work In fact her writing style alone is so distinctive that it alone will most likely cause this novel to be polarizing among its readers much like the Malazan novels by Steven Erickson There will be many readers who absolutely fall in love with Mirror Empire but I also anticipate that many readers will find Hurley’s writing style too hectic be weighed down by the number of POV characters and the scope of her world building or find her reversal of gender roles and exotic setting too strange It is definitely not a novel that everyone will be able to engage with but those that do are in for a spectacular treat The story begins with Lilia a young girl whose home is attacked by invaders Lilia’s mother is a blood witch and to save her daughter she opens a portal to another world and shoves Lilia through it only to orphan her in a place that is both alien and eerily like her own Lilia’s memories of that night are incomplete and she is unaware that she has been thrust from a world on the brink of destruction It is not until her old world starts to seep into her new one and brings the threat of annihilation with it that she starts to uncover her bloody past and the rising of a dark star that will bring power to a few mayhem to all and a war between two worlds Though this novel is everything that I could wish for and in an epic fantasy I have to warn potential readers that the disparate plot lines and chaotically fast paced writing style will confuse the hell out of you for some time before the beauty of the story starts to unfold It is similar to Erickson’s Malazan Book of the Fallen in that way but luckily the complete foreignness and alien wonder of Hurley’s world building made me want to stick with the story from the very first chapter no matter how baffling the plot was at times I also found the intellectual ambitions of the novel kept me occupied during the places in the plot where the seuence of events became too dislocated I was especially impressed with Hurley’s reversal of gender roles where women are the warriors and heads of households and the men have to deal with issues like rape and virtual ownership by their wives I loved that Hurley made gender dominance just as horrifying from the opposite perspective while at the same time showed the reader that both men and women are capable of both good and evil and that to be human is to be subject to one’s society and the fight for survival at any cost Mirror Empire is very dark in tone and the violence and detailed depictions of the horrors of war are the common thread in the novel’s otherwise disparate plot lines Hurley’s writing rivals the darkness of authors like Mark Lawrence and Joe Abercrombie and she manages to multiply their gritty brutality to a worldwide scale In Mirror Empire there are no characters that are untouched by war and therefore none that can escape both causing and living through atrocities It is amazing how Hurley can take ideas that are so universal for the basis of her plot and setting and from them create a world that is so utterly foreign to the reader The idea of mirror realities or dimensions is far from original within the fantasy genre and basic human ualities like moral ambiguousness are the foundation for many of the story’s themes Despite this imagination and ingenuity was put into the novel’s world building than any other book I have read From structures and weapons madegrown from organic materials to walking bloodthirsty trees dogs and unrecognizable bears substituted for horses and a magic system that is derived from the planet’s moons you are unlikely to come across a fantasy set in a world so aesthetically different from our own The cultures of this world are vastly dissimilar as well with the reversed gender roles and one of the prominent societies being unabashed cannibals But the basic human tendencies are still present and Hurley’s ability to highlight human nature by putting it in the middle of a completely alien setting is both clever and fascinating Obviously I would not recommend this novel to anyone looking for a light and fun read Mirror Empire is an epic undertaking that will sweep you away even before you read enough to make sense of the plot and multiple POV characters It is a very dark book and an extremely imaginative one and it is only the very beginning of a series that promises to be vast and wonderfully weird If you are looking to kick back with some easy entertainment I advise you to look elsewhere I would recommend this novel to anyone looking for a challenging read in a dark but epic setting My rating 8510 I received a copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review


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free read Ø eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ Kameron Hurley

On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past while a world goes to war with itselfIn the frozen kingdom of Saiduan invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities leavi No rating Work Structural editWith the caveat that I edited this novel and therefore no rating and here is the processIn the acuisitions meeting for The Mirror Empire I argued very strongly for us to take on Kameron’s novel I thought it was incredibly clever complex and challenging to the reader And I also thought “Good luck to the person who is editing the novel” Then I found out it was meThe reason I wished good luck to the editor? Because of the task involved in ensuring that The Mirror Empire was not too challenging while still retaining all of the flavour and the authorial voice and allowing Kameron’s ambitious vision to be realisedBecause I am the editor of this novel I cannot provide a review of The Mirror Empire so instead I am going to tell you about the experience of editing itOn a personal level I would say sincerely that were it not for my experience with analysing the Malazan series for Torcom I would not have been able to edit The Mirror Empire That series taught me patience in waiting for reveals trusting the author to know where they were taking plotlines and recognising that every now and then we as readers do need to be faced by a work that makes us think and expands our horizonsOn another personal level I had edited YA novels mostly to this point and the idea of tackling well over 700 Word pages of manuscript was like a personal EverestAnd finally on yet another personal level I was starstruck Yep I still get this way with authors I admire How can I possibly tell an author who is such an effective wordsmith that they can improve their work?Well that is the role of an editor To take the novel in front of you and consider what is going to make it better How is the pacing? Is the author effectively carrying their reader with them? Is every scene necessary to drive forward the plot? With The Mirror Empire I felt that in the form it originally came to me the start of the novel was confusing in how each storyline related to each other and the timeline involved So my first reuest was to have some scenes switched around in order to have the reader invested from the word go and not to spend too much time asking uestions like ‘How why who?’My next key issue was with the agency of the character Lilia Although she was a young character and therefore probably inclined to follow adult reasoning and decisions rather than making up her own mind I felt that she was incredibly passive She needed agency and work on her storyline to ensure that readers would engage with herIt didn’t take me than a few pages before I wanted a map And when Kameron suggested the idea of a glossary I leapt all over that as well It IS a hard novel and anything that assists the reader in understanding locations and terms rather than having to spend time puzzling them out hence removing them from their immersion in the novel is welcomeThe gender aspect of The Mirror Empire is obviously a key part of what makes it so seminal in the fantasy genre – the understanding that characters do not fit into boxes or onto a very black and white spectrum I had dual concerns about this that I felt Kameron should address One was that it felt as though the gender aspect was rather dropped in after a number of chapters so felt a little bit whiplash I wanted to see it introduced gracefully and gradually The second point was ensuring that at no point did it feel as though the gendersrelationships described were there simply to play with gender – they had to feel organic within the worldMy key style of editing is to always try and approach a novel as though I were a fresh reader – someone who has no idea of the ultimate direction of the story and who is starting this novel with absolutely no preconceptions Because of this the manuscript that I returned to Kameron had lots of uestions ‘I don’t understand why this character is acting in this way?’ ‘How would we know that this had occurred without seeing of it at an earlier stage?’ I Wired for Culture recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and Archangels War (Guild Hunter, reshape continents a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past while a world goes to war with itselfIn the frozen kingdom of Saiduan invaders from another Breed of Innocence (The Breed Chronicles realm are decimating whole cities leavi No Me Write Book rating Work Structural editWith the caveat that I edited this novel and therefore no The Princes Mistress rating and here is the processIn the acuisitions meeting for The Mirror Empire I argued very strongly for us to take on Kameron’s novel I thought it was incredibly clever complex and challenging to the Cosmological Enigmas reader And I also thought “Good luck to the person who is editing the novel” Then I found out it was meThe Information Infrastructure for Enterprise Coordination and Integration reason I wished good luck to the editor? Because of the task involved in ensuring that The Mirror Empire was not too challenging while still Immortal Jellyfish retaining all of the flavour and the authorial voice and allowing Kameron’s ambitious vision to be At Hells Gate realisedBecause I am the editor of this novel I cannot provide a California review of The Mirror Empire so instead I am going to tell you about the experience of editing itOn a personal level I would say sincerely that were it not for my experience with analysing the Malazan series for Torcom I would not have been able to edit The Mirror Empire That series taught me patience in waiting for Never Goodbye (Albany Boys, reveals trusting the author to know where they were taking plotlines and Afgantsy recognising that every now and then we as Chivalry readers do need to be faced by a work that makes us think and expands our horizonsOn another personal level I had edited YA novels mostly to this point and the idea of tackling well over 700 Word pages of manuscript was like a personal EverestAnd finally on yet another personal level I was starstruck Yep I still get this way with authors I admire How can I possibly tell an author who is such an effective wordsmith that they can improve their work?Well that is the ISRAEL & THE PALESTINIAN TERRI role of an editor To take the novel in front of you and consider what is going to make it better How is the pacing? Is the author effectively carrying their Distant Early Warning (Star Trek (Star Trek: S.C.E., reader with them? Is every scene necessary to drive forward the plot? With The Mirror Empire I felt that in the form it originally came to me the start of the novel was confusing in how each storyline Hunted by Herne (Otherkind Kink: Horned Gods, related to each other and the timeline involved So my first Somnium reuest was to have some scenes switched around in order to have the Lady Lorena’s Spinster’s Society reader invested from the word go and not to spend too much time asking uestions like ‘How why who?’My next key issue was with the agency of the character Lilia Although she was a young character and therefore probably inclined to follow adult The Cronos Complex I reasoning and decisions Mafia King (Royal Mafia, rather than making up her own mind I felt that she was incredibly passive She needed agency and work on her storyline to ensure that Pedophilia & Empire: Satan, Sodomy, & The Deep State: Chapter 16: The Penn State Coach Jerry Sandusky Saga - Anatomy of a Grooming Pedophile Predator (English Edition) readers would engage with herIt didn’t take me than a few pages before I wanted a map And when Kameron suggested the idea of a glossary I leapt all over that as well It IS a hard novel and anything that assists the Cant Have You reader in understanding locations and terms Network Security Essentials Applications and Standards rather than having to spend time puzzling them out hence Alphabet Soup removing them from their immersion in the novel is welcomeThe gender aspect of The Mirror Empire is obviously a key part of what makes it so seminal in the fantasy genre – the understanding that characters do not fit into boxes or onto a very black and white spectrum I had dual concerns about this that I felt Kameron should address One was that it felt as though the gender aspect was Loud and Quiet rather dropped in after a number of chapters so felt a little bit whiplash I wanted to see it introduced gracefully and gradually The second point was ensuring that at no point did it feel as though the gendersrelationships described were there simply to play with gender – they had to feel organic within the worldMy key style of editing is to always try and approach a novel as though I were a fresh Crime on the Fens: DI Nikki Galena, Book 1 reader – someone who has no idea of the ultimate direction of the story and who is starting this novel with absolutely no preconceptions Because of this the manuscript that I On the First Night of Christmas returned to Kameron had lots of uestions ‘I don’t understand why this character is acting in this way?’ ‘How would we know that this had occurred without seeing of it at an earlier stage?’ I

review The Mirror Empire

The Mirror Empire

Ng behind nothing but ash and ruinAs the dark star of the cataclysm rises an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s peopl I had really high hopes for this book Powerful women sentient plants mirror worlds but ultimately I was left disappointedKameron Hurley has created a really interesting world There are multiple universes powers that are governed by satellites that orbit the planet and blood magic People use dogs and bears instead of horses women run the government men are used for little than sex and there are doppelgangers Sounds like the makings of a fascinating book minus the whole ineuality thing and ritualistic cannibalismUnfortunately the world is populated by boring forgettable characters I love the fact that women are so prevalent but they have no personality and are incredibly shallow I had no investment in any of them and eventually got so tired of reading about them that I speed read the last 30% of the novelThere's some plot to this book but it's bogged down by uninteresting characters and confusing factions Some characters change gender randomly and it gets hard to keep track of everyone I enjoyed Hurley's writing style but it wasn't enough to keep me interested I wish she spend time getting the reader invested in the world and characters rather than packing in so much plotAnother problem I had characters often did things because the plot demanded it rather than doing something for their own reasonsmotivation Their actions didn't feel organic and didn't make any sense They would jump from one line of reasoning to a completely different one with no rhyme or reasonI don't know if this book wasn't for me or if it's truly a dud I'll give Hurley the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn't for meD Die ewigen Toten (David Hunter, Band 6) ruinAs the dark star of the cataclysm Jane Goodalls Animal World rises an illegitimate The Old Myers Place (Halloween, ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s peopl I had Portfolio Management Formula: Mathematical Trading Methods for the Futures, Options and Stock Markets really high hopes for this book Powerful women sentient plants mirror worlds but ultimately I was left disappointedKameron Hurley has created a I Survived Swiss Boarding Schools really interesting world There are multiple universes powers that are governed by satellites that orbit the planet and blood magic People use dogs and bears instead of horses women Leftover Dead (Trailer Park Mystery, run the government men are used for little than sex and there are doppelgangers Sounds like the makings of a fascinating book minus the whole ineuality thing and Witcheskin ritualistic cannibalismUnfortunately the world is populated by boring forgettable characters I love the fact that women are so prevalent but they have no personality and are incredibly shallow I had no investment in any of them and eventually got so tired of The Witches reading about them that I speed A Year in the Merde read the last 30% of the novelThere's some plot to this book but it's bogged down by uninteresting characters and confusing factions Some characters change gender Jack Glass randomly and it gets hard to keep track of everyone I enjoyed Hurley's writing style but it wasn't enough to keep me interested I wish she spend time getting the Splinter reader invested in the world and characters Gilchrist: A Novel rather than packing in so much plotAnother problem I had characters often did things because the plot demanded it Wired for Culture rather than doing something for their own Archangels War (Guild Hunter, reasonsmotivation Their actions didn't feel organic and didn't make any sense They would jump from one line of Breed of Innocence (The Breed Chronicles reasoning to a completely different one with no Me Write Book rhyme or The Princes Mistress reasonI don't know if this book wasn't for me or if it's truly a dud I'll give Hurley the benefit of the doubt and say it wasn't for meD

free read Ø eBook or Kindle ePUB ☆ Kameron Hurley

E or loyalty to her alien EmpressThrough tense alliances and devastating betrayal the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itselfIn the end one world will rise – and many will peri 375 This is a very imaginative and ambitious project the author has tackled I think I didn't get the full intended experience from it because for some reason I went into it thinking it is an Epic Fantasy I made that mistake when the story started with the change in circumstance for a little girl and there is a grand scale war going on in at least two parallel worlds My brain naturally tried to find characters to root for and I was even OK with them being very flawed expecting them to grow into people I could cheer on That was my mistake The deeper into the book I went I started getting aggravated with the choices characters were making with the seemingly needless violence and the rashness of actions which were never concerned with possible conseuences Those are the ones that usually led to tragedies and I felt were used as shortcut to rise ire in the reader or to put the character in unobtainable situations If any of them just stopped to think for a second we would have a much shorter book So after I read for a while I realized that the predominantly female dominant characters had lulled me into not accepting the very obvious this is not an Epic Fantasy with characters fighting for the Dark or Light sides This is a very well though out Grim dark Fantasy and if we didn't have the swap of the traditional male female roles in this world which is going through a cyclic cataclysmic event I would have accepted it as such much faster than I did Once my perception was adjusted it became a much interesting and fulfilling readIn this system of alternate worlds there are two Suns and at least 4 moonssatellites which ascend or decent according to their natural orbits The magic system is connected to those moons and the people who can access their power can draw on it best while their moon is in Ascension The dark moon Oma only ascends every two millennia and every time this happens some of the alternate worlds die and their inhabitants try to open a gate to the world least likely to be destroyed However every person on every world has a doppelganger on every other world and can not cross over unless their double is already dead on the other side Thus mass murders ensue and depending on which side you are on they either seem like the only choice for survival or cruel mindless slaughter This dilemma leaves very little space for characters who are good or evil You as a reader are put in a position to understand all sides and not necessarily agree with their actions but be able to put yourself in their shoes and think what would you do in order to stay alive and help your loved ones survive There are only gray characters with gray choices and murky morals I would not recommend this for very young readers despite some of the main characters being young The violence is a bit too much for the new reader The world is very interesting and the story is fascinating so I am looking forward to the next book