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View From the Mirror, The by Ian Irvine

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Submitted by Neil Holmes 
(Nov 03, 2005)

"The View From the Mirror" series ("A Shadow on the Glass" et al) is one I classify as being among the best of its genre and a must for any fantasy lover looking for something new. Irvine is at once able to summon elements of epic fantasy that are timeless and resonate thoughout the genre yet at the same time tell a story with characters, races and worlds that are completely novel. Too much fantasy is simply a rehash of what has worked commercially in the past rather than striking out into a new world. Unfortunately, much of what is left over, many otherwise promising works, seem merely designed to continuously milk the reader as we are forced to buy book after endless book.

What I find particularly appealing about this series is that it seems to have been entirely written before the first volume was published. This makes for a continuity that many other contemporary authors lack. Particularly galling is when an author begins a promising thematical or plot line only to never follow up in subsequent books. Irvine has no such problems.

From the beginning his characters are richly human(regardless of actual race). He uses the common fantasy device of alluding to historical events that the reader is not familiar with to give his world a sense of depth and history while not sacrificing the narrative by going off on tangents that distract from the story he is telling. While his two main characters, Karan and Llian, are very painfully human, the towering figures they become entangled with possess fantastic power but are also burdened with fatal flaws and often gnawed by doubt. It is refreshing to find such complexity in so many different characters.

Finally, the brevity of the series (if one can call a four book series brief) is a welcome respite from from other current authors who lack either the money or the courage to provide a satisfactory conclusion to their "epics." Irvine's work is, at heart, a story and he is not afraid to tell it and let it stand for itself. The hope of coming across a good story - something novel that provokes new thoughts and wonder - is why I continue to read fantasy. Much like playing golf, where each good shot is surrounded by many bad or mediocre ones, so too is the fantasy genre. For each good or great novel there are at least several that are not up to par. "The View From the Mirror" series is like that one great golf shot - it keeps me coming back for more.

Submitted by Candice 
(May 18, 2003)

This book is a must read for all those who enjoy fantasy. There are many twists in the book, which always come unexpected. The tetralogy is also packed with action  ranging from murder, to deceit, betrayal, and etcetera. All the characters seem terrifyingly real and authentic. Every character has their own personal fears and defects  none are the perfect hero or heroine that you might read of in some other books. If you want to read this book, it is advisable to also finish reading the other books in the tetralogy, as each subsequent book gets better and even more electrifying. I would recommend this book to mostly advanced readers as there can be up to three or even four scene changes within just one chapter. This can be quite confusing when you first start reading the tetralogy, but generally, most readers would accustom themselves quickly to the different scene changes. The element of surprise, an edge of the seat plot and the intricate world that Ian Irvine has created would draw those who are avid readers of fantasy most.

Submitted by Ben Archibald 
(Dec 12, 2002)

I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, Irvine has managed to write one of the most complex and fascinating stories I've ever read and has been able to tie in several running plot lines and several thousands of years of history, with good and evil morphing and switching roles throughout the series. On the other hand, there is something almost undefinable lacking in his work. It seems to lack emotional depth. He can write down the emotions his characters are feeling, but he can't seem to make us FEEL them, like a great writer should be able to. As a result, I can only give this series a three. If you want both, I recommend The Wars of Light And Shadow by Janny Wurts

Submitted by 
(Dec 12, 2002)

What I particularly liked about the series was the "Australiana" flavour added to the setting of Santhenar. The setting left this impression mainly because of Irvine's description of the flora, eg, mentioning Jacaranda and Snow Gum trees, also the fact that it is in the southern hemisphere adds to this as well.

In terms of the fantasy genre, Irvine breaks the mold to the extent that the character classification as good or evil is blurred. Contrast this with "The Lord of the Rings" and other works by more established authors such as Eddings and it's easy to see why this series is so original.

A great read.

Submitted by Genisis X 
(May 10, 2002)

I have read the entire series twice now. The great thing about this book is it shows us that there is no good and no evil as the two are blurred together. It encompasses thousands of years of history such as the expulsion of the Charon from their original homeworld of Tallallame and Suthadars destruction of the flute at Huling's tower. With four main human species each with different veiws on one and other, it is an extremely complex and is the best novel to come out of Australia ever.

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