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Review: Mordant's Need (duology) by Stephan R. Donaldson

>>Friday, March 12, 2010

Title: The Mirror of Her Dreams (Book 1) and A Man Rides Through (Book 2)
Author: Stephan R. Donaldson
Series: Mordent's Need #1-2
Format: Paperback
Pages: 642 (Book 1), 661 (Book 2)
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: June 3rd, 2003
Publisher: Del Rey
Rating: 8.5

From Goodreads: The daughter of rich but neglectful parents, Terisa Morgan lives alone in a New York City apartment, a young woman who has grown to doubt her own existence. Surrounded by the flat reassurance of mirrors, she leads an unfulfilled life—until the night a strange man named Geraden comes crashing through one of her mirrors, on a quest to find a champion to save his kingdom of Mordant from a pervasive evil that threatens the land. Terisa is no champion. She wields neither magic nor power. And yet, much to her own surprise, when Geraden begs her to come back with him, she agrees.

Now, in a culture where women are little more than the playthings of powerful men, in a castle honeycombed with secret passages and clever traps, in a kingdom threatened from without and within by enemies able to appear and vanish out of thin air, Terisa must become more than the pale reflection of a person. For the way back to Earth is closed to her. And the enemies of Mordant will stop at nothing to see her dead.

Source: Bought

My Review
I am reviewing these two books together because they are essentially one book divided into two (probably because of the length). The story doesn't end in the first and continues directly into the next book.

I have had a long love-hate relationship with this series. There were a lot of things that I didn't like. One: the main character, Terisa, is very hard to like because she has many problems such as lack of self confidence (an understatement) and it is important for me to have the main female likable. Two: the first book is extremely slow. I think all 642 pages span like 5-7 days. I actually almost quit near the end; I started another book I had lined up but I couldn't do it. I kept wondering what was happening to the characters in this book (even Teresa) and so I had to continue on. I wasn't disappointed.

Donaldson is a gifted writer. He injected emotion and life into his characters to the point you believed they were real, even if they were unlikeable. He's not afraid to make characters less than perfect and neither to make them as lovable as they can be. This is the main reason I came away from this series happy; characters are so well developed they make your heart flutter or your skin crawl. The story is unique with a fun magic system: the use of mirrors to move through worlds or to bring things out of them. It's very clever and evolves with the story as you go.

One of the highlights of the series is the romance between Terisa and Geraden. It is portrayed so well and so touching. Geraden is extremely likable and the way they evolve together is realistic yet still romantic. It is intriguing the way he comes to her and brings her to his world; it reads like a fairy tale.

Rating: 8.5
I would recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy about good vs. evil, a good magic system, a great writer, but one who also has a lot of patience. Even if you hate Teresa sometimes, there are other strong women in this book, and you'll want to find out if Terisa finds herself by the end of the series.

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