Nominated for a 2015 Locus Award for Best Fantasy and the 2015 David Gemmell Morningstar Award.
A stunning epic fantasy from two-time Hugo Award winner 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 itself.
In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin. At the heart of this war lie the pacifistic Dhai people, once enslaved by the Saiduan and now courted by their former masters to provide aid against the encroaching enemy.
Stretching from desolate tundra to steamy, semi-tropical climes seething with sentient plant life, this is an epic tale of blood mages and mercenaries, emperors and priestly assassins who must unite to save a world on the brink of ruin.
As 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 to save his skin; and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father's people or loyalty to her alien Empress.
Through 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 itself.
In the end, one world will rise - and many will perish.
File Under: Fantasy [ Orphaned Child | World at War | Blood Magic | The Fluidity of Gender]
About the Author
Kameron Hurley is the author of the novels God's War, Infidel, and Rapture, a science-fantasy noir series which earned her the Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer and the Kitschy Award for Best Debut Novel.
She is a two-time Hugo Award winner (Best Fan Writer and Best Related Work) and she has been a finalist for the Nebula Award and the Locus Award. The Mirror Empire was nominated for a 2015 Locus Award for Best Fantasy and the David Gemmell Morningstar Award.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Like so many new books I read these days, this one is excellent, but again, not for the faint of heart. Herein is an abundance of brutal violence, sexual and otherwise, as well as some cutting critique of static gender roles in more conventional books of the fantasy genre. This book features a culture with five genders, one with three genders, and one where male/female gender roles are "reversed," as it were, with women running everything and going off to war while the men are confined at home as objects of sexual gratification. The latter case is exemplified by a POV character, a ruthless general named Zezili, and her husband Anavha, who have a rather abusive, dysfunctional relationship that many readers may find disturbing. Nevertheless, if one is unfazed by the above, the book has much to recommend it. Kameron Hurley's world building is excellent as always, and the aforementioned non-standard gendered cultures all feel totally plausible and the result of a natural societal evolution, rather than gimmicks contrived to shock and awe. The idea of having the magic system based off satellites, where adepts are only powerful when their star is ascendant, is an inspired one, and is also worked well into the world building and culture. Fans of her previous series, the Nyx Apocrypha, will know that the author is particularly fond of organic technology, and that is present here as well, in the form of magically grown plant-based weaponry, architecture, et al. While all of this is interesting and I greatly enjoyed the book, comparisons to God's War are inevitable, and I didn't find myself enjoying this book quite as much as Kameron Hurley's previous work. There are boatloads of characters, as is to be expected from the genre, and I had some difficulty keeping them all straight, forcing me to refer to the glossary at the back a few times. Further, I felt that the political intrigue to bloody violence ratio was just a bit higher in this book, and I occasionally found some of the politics tedious. The book is also a bit longer than I usually like, but in the end, all these criticisms are largely subjective in nature and offset by the book's positive qualities. Four stars, and I look forward to the next one.
If you're looking for an epic fantasy that goes against all of your preconceived notions of what the genre is like, this book is for you. Hurley creates a very rich, fascinating world filled with interesting and engaging characters. I found myself getting to the end of a chapter disappointed to be leaving the characters in it, only to realize I was just as anxious to get back to the characters in the next one. I didn't want to put this one down until I was all the way through (and still wanted more!). A fantastic read. I highly recommend it.
This is an epic fantasy that won't be everyone's cup of tea. But it was definitely mine. I've been burned out on fantasy for some time; I was tired of the same old, same old. But here I found a complex, detailed, and utterly immersive fantasy universe. Excellent world-building. This is not a book that is going to hold your hand. You're thrown in with a strange magic system and unfamiliar terms and you just have to grasp it through context (a glossary is provided at the end of the book, if needed). There's quite a few POV characters and at first, they all seem to go their own way. But as the story progresses, it begins to come together. The pacing was a bit slow at times, and I didn't always feel the tension that the characters did, but overall, it was a great read. And can we talk about a culture that emphasizes the importance of CONSENT? BECAUSE YEAH.
Great to immerse yourself and discover a whole new realm of reality. It won't let you stop reading it.