Mirror Sight by Kristen Britain – Part 1
I was terribly excited when the library called to inform me that my hold had arrived – and on the day the book was released! Mirror Sight is the latest book in the Green Rider Series by Kristen Britain. Over the past 20 hours I have managed to consume 276 of the 770 pages in this thick novel. So, while this post will be full of Spoilers. It is part one for a reason.
Before I start, I just want to clarify. I really enjoyed the Green Rider (book 1 of the series). I really appreciated what Britain tried to do with book 2 (First Rider’s Call). I thought book 3 was lots of fun (The High King’s Tomb). I was sorely disappointed with Blackveil (book 4) and so started Mirror Sight with mixed emotions. On one hand it is very exciting to read something new in a world I generally enjoy, especially when the author takes 3-4 years to write the next work in the series. However after the abysmal failure that was Blackveil I could only foresee disappointment in the newest novel.
Fortunately the book starts by dealing with the cruel and unnecessary cliff-hanger that ended the previous story. So far that is the best thing to have happened. Almost 300 hundred pages into the book we have finally started to create a plot.
The story takes place nearly 200 hundred years in the future. This leap in time travel is a bit weird to say the least. It is as though Britain became bored with her standard fantasy world – more medieval in feel than anything else – and decided she wanted to do something Steampunk because that is the latest greatest thing. Well, the attempt to add steampunk is meh at best. It mostly comes across as preachy against technology. And the leap forward 200 hundred years is silly – at least when you try to think of the mechanisms. Sure time travel has cropped up in the previous tales, but in small bursts and largely into the past (far more acceptable).
The future world lacks the feel of the original setting. It comes across as flat, underdeveloped and largely uninteresting. It is too much evil emperor à cartoonish in the villain. Granted, the villains in the stories do tend towards the Evil variety. It is one of the drawbacks of the writing. Evil villains (with a capital E) are really bland. It was one of the strengths of the earlier books. While Evil existed in the world, each story centred around a much more approachable villain – a force with clearly defined motivation.
The huge surprise that the Emperor in the future is not the Evil Mornhavon the Black was so clearly set up from the beginning as to be unsurprising. It is not entirely a bad thing; at least this was set up in advance.
I heard Mirror Sight was supposed to be a stand-alone story in the series. Not dependant on the previous books. Again, I have not finished the story, but thus far I would not recommend it to anyone not already indoctrinated. Mostly because I still feel the first story is the author’s strongest. This book suffers from weak writing and some silly characters. The silliest characters are the Eltians à Tolkien’s elves reused in a different setting. Yup I am bored with these immortal, perfect, beautiful, arrogant, tree-hugging non-humans. They are tiresome in the extreme. Their use is lazy and their character traits are all derivatives of Elves. There is nothing particularly new in these magical beings that are superior to humans in every obvious quality.
The weak writing surfaces most in the telling and not showing. There is far too much info dumping in these first 300 pages. Everything is description and explanation. Sure you could argue the author is providing a recap of all previous books so a new reader doesn’t feel lost – but it sucks! If there is something that has to be retold then find an interesting way of doing so. Don’t just have our main character think about it. At the very least make sure her perspective is biased. But the fact of the matter is I have read all the previous books. If I wanted to know more about them, I would pull them from my shelf to reread. Just to be clear, I totally love the idea of referencing previous events/books. Again it should be done in a new and refreshing way. It can be done obliquely so those familiar with the early part of the series are able to make the connection and those new just skim over that part as unimportant.
Which brings me to one of the interesting connections I had the pleasure of making. The earlier books deal with an underground movement (secret society) dedicated to replacing the world’s king with an ancient emperor (the Evil Mornhavon the Black). This group skulks in the shadows and plots against the good guys. Well, fast forward to book five where our heroine finds herself on the other side of things. Now she is part of the group wanting to over through their emperor and hiding in the shadows. I rather like the symmetry of the situation. Only of course, in this case everything is so decidedly black-and-white we know the emperor is Evil and has to be overthrown.
I feel like I should wrap this up with some sort of unifying comment. I don’t have one, so instead I will put down some of my predictions for the rest of the story.
*Mirriam will end up betraying the underground movement in some fashion.
*Karigan will help to burn the future capital but have to return to the past to prevent Amberhill from becoming the Sea King Reborn.
*The weapon they seek is really a jewel used to trap the spirit of the dragons (possible akin to gods).
Now it is time to find out how are sword yielding, horseback riding heroine fares at a dinner party in a restrained Victorian-esp social setting.