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Saturdays in Books

Reviews of speculative fiction, YA, middle grade, and graphic novels, along with stray thoughts, links, and pictures.

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The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent
Kathryn Morrow, James K. Morrow

Review: Mirror Empire

The Mirror Empire - Kameron Hurley

That's right, I've gotten yet another book before it's actual release date. This one I bought, though. Hurley had tweeted that a few copies would be available at GenCon, where I was already planning to be. 


So, also, it's signed. I hunted her down after a panel in my yummy sushi pajamas.


I'm not sure I have much to add to the Liz Bourke review I read a few hours ago. You should maybe just go read that instead of my ravings.


I haven't enjoyed an epic fantasy novel this much in I-don't-know-how-long. The world building is bananas. She doesn't stop to explain the satellites or carnivorous plants, you just need to roll with the fun (and maybe consult the glossary at the back if you're really struggling). More than a hundred pages in, she describes a bear. Guys, it's not a bear. For fuck's sake. The walls are only worth characters thinking about when they are actually stone. The fucking bears? That they ride as mounts? Are not bears. Bananas. 


And, oh, do I like bananas. This is so my kind of weird. I just sat back and let the strange keep rolling until it all made sense. Have you read City? The history of the decline of human civilization as told through the creation myths of dogs? That's not even scratching the surface of weird with Mirror Empire as the standard.


She will explain the concept that leads to the title "Mirror Empire" across several POVs as each character figures it out. While that makes a lot of sense - obviously these characters would give a lot more time over to exploring a new concept than thinking about what they consider normal - this was the thing I least needed explained. It's . . . in the title. It's . . . described in the introductory chapter. But that may just be a reflection of my own reading history. See: City.


In addition to wild worldbuilding, Hurley also throws in a lot of violence. Really, a lot. Both the kind that involves killing masses of faceless enemies on the field of battle and the considerably more personal kind. I really dig that, but I know it's not for everyone. There's a lot of decapitation, sometimes of children. I'm going to drop a minor (tiny) spoiler here that you should only read if you are trying to evaluate whether or not this is too violent for your own personal sensibilities.


A fifteen year old girl is thrown from a cliff and, while the fall doesn't kill her, she is left so maimed that she cannot escape when carrion birds arrive to start eating her face.

(show spoiler)


And in the midst of a crazy magical world slowly coating itself in the blood of the innocent? Some excellent characters. Lilia easily being my favorite as she constantly out thinks opponents even to her own detriment. 


I so wish the second volume was out already.


I'm also going to drop a few notes for myself behind another spoiler tag so they're easier to find when Empire Ascendant comes out. Seriously do not read this one if you haven't already read this book. It will be utter nonsense, but will spoil many things when you do read this book.


So, uh, maybe go read this and come back so we can discuss?




What happened to the husband, Anavha? Is he on a third plane?

Do the other temples have hearts the Khai can enter?
Taigan has a shadow self who is still alive! If Taigan could pull the same death cheat the Garik woman did, they could both be in the same world!Shadow Taigan could kill Maralah and then they could live happily ever after, pushing children off cliffs and eating dead animals! I wonder if they would be lovers.
Assuming that bringing that woman back to life didn't banish or kill her shadow version, of course. She wasn't caught, or even found, is she still around?
Taigan in still bound to Maralah, how is she going to complete her mission?
Lilia's not-mother, Isoail, still lives and doesn't appear to have fled with them. She was last seen when she opened the gate for Lilia and Zezili.She is in the control of the invaders. 
Gian's back story: She betrayed the Empress how?
Speaking of, what the fuck, Empress. I thought she would turn out to be a shadow person from the Tai Mora, but what the fuck? Has there been a long series of empresses inheriting the throne, or just one ageless lady waiting for passage home? Who are her sisters? Are they the cats? Also, haha, cats are the persuasive tools of the great matriarchy. Apparently, this is what I get for not reading the blurb - a thing I have stopped doing because so many are full of spoilers or outright lies.
What do dogs look like?
What does wisteria look like in this crazy ass world? After the bears, I trust no single word descriptions!
Presumably Nasaka witnessed the death of her shadow son to assure her the Tai Mora wouldn't replace him, but the text doesn't actually name what unthinkable death she witnessed.
(show spoiler)