Reflections by Neil Cladingboel

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Book Information  
AuthorNeil Cladingboel
SeriesErebus Equilibrium, The
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by Kerry Orchard 
(Mar 18, 2002)

Neil Cladingboel's first book, Reflections, in his Erebus Equilibrium Trilogy, left me hungering for more. It is a fast paced, exciting foray into a fantastical tale of personal pain and triumph. The blend of science, fantasy, real and alternative world realities left me breathless.

Jonathan Malone, shrouded by guilt over the death of his sister, is projected suddenly into Erebus, a world that is nowhere but everywhere. It is simply in between, the space that exists betwixt the gates of heaven and hell. Do not think of Erebus as purgatory, it is not that simple - it is so much more. Erebus is about balancing between the two, maintaining space. The
conflict that exists between good and evil.

Mirrors play a key role in this intriguing tale as the medium through which Jonathan's sister's death was produced, and the gateway to Erebus. Neil's use of mirrors is much more than a gateway however, it is, as the title suggests, the reflection of that within.

Through the story Jonathan struggles to move on with his life, to get past his guilt through the love of his father and his wife, Alison. His personal struggles are done with gravity and intensity. When he succeeds and begins to live, another twist!

Here, we have the ultimate struggle between good and evil, the Watcher and the Keeper. Heaven and hell. Puppets and play things, the omnipotence of those who control the universe, and all that we can and cannot see.

The characters were well written and complex. Their lives had meaning and it was easy to get to know them.

The ending is superb and not at all what I expected. I happily anticipate reading the next book and following this fantastical trail right to its end. I would highly recommend 'Reflections' to any fantasy or science fiction fan.

Kerry Orchard, author of The Thoughmaster's Conduit

Submitted by Adrian Rogers 
(Sep 03, 2001)

As the first book of this trilogy Neil Cladingboel's 'Reflections' blends elements of fantasy, science fiction, this world and alternative world realities, the esoteric and the everyday. It is the story of Jonathan Malone, a young man haunted by guilt as a result of his inadvertant involvement in the death of his younger sister Sarah, when they were both children. He is projected into 'Erebus' - the alternative world neither heaven nor hell but in between, through the medium of mirrors. Of course the use of mirrors in a story is nothing new. Stephen Donaldson has done it in his Mordaunt novels, but Cladingoel's handling of mirror imagery is quite different, though equally deft and original. In 'Reflections' mirrors are not merely a method of passing from one world to another, but also reflectors of various levels of the inner self, and a means of testing that self. This exploration of the psyche is achieved without portentiousness, quite the opposite in fact, this author's language being straightforward but bright and fresh, his narrative swift paced and flowing. 'Erebus' itself is an original concept despite the ancient origins of that name. Though portrayed as a 'between' world it is not like purgatory, being concerned not so much with the purging of guilt as with the maintainance of balance. In other worlds Cladingboel consciously or unconsciously evokes the hermetic principle -- 'as above, so below.' Like all good fantasies it is a struggle between good and evil, between the Keeper and the Watcher, with Jonathan, his father, his wife Alison, and one time school bully Billy Robinson caught up in the conflict between opposing forces. But just when a 'happily ever after' ending seems imminent there is a twist - on the last page in fact that opens the whole story out again. The author shows - throughout the book a mastery of the art of scene and character transition, but this ending is perhaps his greatest coup, providing a seamless transition into the next book. Consequently, having read 'Reflections' you will want to buy Vol 2 and read on. I have no hesitation in recommending this book as an absorbing and excellent read, and cannot helpt reflecting on the fact that Neil Cladinboel is only one of a raft of writers producing rich and imaginative work that has not been taken up by mainstream publishers. The fact that this is so says a great deal about, but very little for the Australian publishing industry. The Erebus Equilibrium Trilogy is available in trade paperback. See the author's website -

Submitted by Eric Gilmartin
(Mar 13, 2001)

A delightful new fantasy saga kicks off in "Reflections" by Neil Charles Cladingboel, a rising author with a deft touch for mixing bizarre fantasy with scenes of everyday life in the "real" world we all inhabit - or think we do, anyhow. His hero suffers a horrendous personal loss in his youth, and struggles to put his shattered life back together; just when he thinks he's succeeded - with a busy career, a loving wife, and a feeling of peace and happiness to show for his years of dignified grief and hard work - he discovers his pivotal role in a surreal power struggle, being waged in a parallel dimension by puppet-master forces who could be called angels and demons, alien beings, or raw forces of dream energy. Mr. Cladingboel's treatment of his protagonist's suffering is nicely handled, never overwrought, and his initial skepticism at the strange events unfolding around him, and within him, goes on just long enough to make the point. The author really likes his characters, and cares for their welfare, which makes it easy for the reader to do likewise, and the intrusive dream-beings, who use mirrors and other reflecting surfaces to enter and exit our world (hence, one meaning of the title) are imaginative, complex, and captivating - particularly once it becomes unclear which side is actually the good, and which is the bad. This book makes me anticipate the later books in this saga with keen interest, and want to recommend it to other readers with great enthusiasm ... so I will!

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