Ooh, blood magic and violence. Where have I seen this before?

Written by
Kameron Hurley in 2015

Some books, like The Mirror Empire start off by throwing a lot of new made up terms at you during character introductions, and explains the terms slowly throughout the book. Unfortunately, that can be a bit offputting, especially when there’s a complicated world that you need to immerse yourself in.

The Mirror Empire is the first of two books, the second of which is due later this year, by Kameron Hurley. It’s good, but needs reader patience as you slowly have to work out what a jista is. Jistas, an important concept in this book, are able to draw on powers linked to four moons, Para, Tira and Oma.

Unfortunately, when Oma rises, sh!t goes to hell. See, this only happens every two millenia, and unlike The White Walkers, a zombie apocalypse doesn’t occur. The great disaster about to befall the world is that Oma makes all of the parallel worlds become coincident, meaning it’s easy to step from one to another through artificially created gates. This is what’s happening.

Across three nations, the Dhai, a race of peaceful polyamorist cannibals (what a combination!), the Siduan, who are your typical patriarchal society with skilled assassins, and Dorinah, where the gender roles are completely reversed (I’m all for gender equality). Oh, and the Dorinah keep Dhai slaves too, for what it’s worth.

The Mirror Empire follows three main threads:

  • The journey of Lilia, an orphan from a mirror universe raised in a Dhai temple, who has immense latent powers,
  • Roh, one of her scholarly friends who wants to become an assassin, and
  • Ahkio, the newly crowned leader of the Dhai

This book is pretty violent, with your typical Game of Thrones level of beheadings, eviscerations and torture, with a small amount of cannibalism thrown in. Makes for a fun tourism brochure, I suppose.

The Mirror Empire does take a while to get going, but when it finally does, it is engrossing and entertaining. Plenty of action and political drama is peppered throughout the book, though mostly it is violence. For now, there are no murderous weddings yet, so maybe that will be forthcoming?

Rating

A good dark fantasy novel with overt magic and decent characters.

Read this if you…

Are still waiting for Winds of Winter and need a bit of fantasy to tide you over.

Don’t read this if you…

Are easily confused when lots of new words are thrown at you. It’s a little confusing at the start, but make the effort, and you will be rewarded.

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