The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke

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The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke

Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Lesley Mason
Reviewed by Lesley Mason
Summary: The kidnapped Ligea has grown up and discovered who she really is. Returning to Tyr she is intent on ending slavery, bringing down the Empire and getting a little personal vengeance in along the way. With a young son in tow, however, she finds that life and power are not nearly as simple as she expected. Meanwhile, there is a darkness growing on the other side of the world...
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: December 2007
Publisher: Orbit
ISBN: 978-1841496085

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Ligea Gayed is back in Tyr - home of the secretive Brotherhood and the despotic ruler Bator Korbus - once her own home too. As a child she had been kidnapped in far Kardiastan and brought up to be manipulated by the empire that had quashed not only her homeland but every other state in the neighbourhood.

Ligea - or Sarana to use her birth name - is a woman with a grudge.

The fact that she is also pregnant with the child of Temellin, Mirager of Kardiastan, is more than a minor inconvenience. She has used the unborn child by sending him out into the world as an essensa, and will continue to use her powers while carrying him: both are potential threats to his well-being. She fears for the harm she might cause... but her 'cause' takes precedent.

She will bring down the Tyranian Empire and seek her personal vengeance on its key operators along the way. That is the plan.

A half-baked, ill-formed plan - but Ligea is not a woman to allow anything to stand in her way. She is cunning and psychologically astute. She also has the magical power of a Miragerin: with the aid of her cabochon, a gemstone embedded in her palm, and her Mirager's sword, she can conjure the elements, hear emotions, far-see and -hear.

Having survived (barely) the devastation of the Ravage (see The Heart of the Mirage) she is also a fighter in every sense of that word: battle-hardened and, at times, savage. She was once beautiful, she can still cast glamour.

The Shadow of Tyr is the second of the Mirage Makers series and picks up where The Heart of the Mirage left of. Coming to it without reading the first volume is probably a mistake. It does not work as a stand-alone tale because too much of the background is required to make real sense of who is who, and what must have previously happened. It takes a while to figure out exactly what the cabochon is, and why it is important. The Ravage - which is fundamental to the machinations of many of the characters and creatures in this world - isn't explained until very near the end of this volume.

That is one of the reasons that I found the book quite hard-going to begin with, and was sure that I would not be recommending it very highly. Eventually though, I began to see just why Larke elicits the comments she does. Once I'd got embedded into the mindset and began to find my way in this world - which is closer to ancient Rome than the usual "mediaeval" setting chosen for fantasy stories - I did begin to care about the characters. In particular Arrant - the son who appears to be as flawed as Ligea feared he might be - and his interaction with the other that takes over his mind. By the end Larke had my emotional attention. Had I started at the beginning, as one should, I'd have enjoyed the whole much more.

Unlike the first book, we're given more viewpoints than a first-person telling could provide. Thus we get to see more of the motivations of all the players. Some of the twists are predictable, but plot is well-paced. Larke allows years to elapse in the space between chapters to maintain the sense of how long and hard the struggle is. And in those spaces she allows her characters to mature and change. This makes for some more believable progressions than could have been achieved over a shorter timescale. She can spin a battle-scene with the power of mirage whirlwind, and capture the stunned silence in the aftermath of a massacre.

There are weaknesses, however. She did not leave me with any real sense of any of the places: the city of Tyr is better rendered than the ocean, or Kardiastan or the mountain strongholds of the rebels - but even there, I found only just enough description to sketch in a locale for the action. Her choice of names - for places, and for people - doesn't always quite work for me. Sometimes they are far too obvious, Valorian, Hotash, Brand, Tyrans, Kardiastan... and at others just clumsy. The title Exaltarch is a logical construction - but it jars on the inner ear, pausing the flow of the rendition.

Speaking of jarring: I must assume that Ms Larke is a polite and well-spoken woman. She certainly does not know how to curse! Her soldiers swear and cuss as you'd expect such men to do - but she gives them such inappropriate words to use. Technically, her constructions follow the rules. They take the gods of the world she's built and use their names in vain. But it is difficult to read Vortexdamm or Goddessdamm as effective expletives. Swear words need to be short, explosive - anything longer than two syllables starts to ebb away. In the real world they'd be corrupted into shorter versions, that can be spat. I realise this is a quibble, but it was one that pulled me up time and again.

On the whole though, if you like fantasy - you'll enjoy the adventure of the Mirage series. There is clearly more to come. While the featured struggles of this tale are resolved... the book ends with changes that presage more trouble ahead. And the goings on in the mind of young Arrant speak of darker days to come.

Worth reading.

For other evil deeds and valiant struggles in made-up worlds try the Magician series from Trudi Canavan... or the Engineer series by K J Parker.

Buy The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Shadow of Tyr (Mirage Makers) by Glenda Larke at Amazon.com.


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