This book is part of the War of Broken Mirrors series and is set in the same world as Sufficiently Advanced Magic. It’s set on a different continent in the Pre-Attunement era in a time period before the events of SAM. There are a LOT of links between these two books, and I think if you’ve read and liked SAM and want more of the magic system from a different perspective you should definitely check this one out.
This one was narrated by Nick Podehl (and was awesome), so per usual with audiobooks – who the fuck knows what’s going on with my spelling.
There are three main characters in this book, so it’s a switch from the single POV writing style of SAM. The three are linked throughout the story so it makes it easier to keep track of what’s going on, which is good because there’s a lot happening.
Talien is in prison at the start of the story, he’s been arrested for heresy because he’s been caught with a sacred sword. He doesn’t understand why he’s in prison because he didn’t do anything illegal, or so he thought. Shortly thereafter he’s arrested by a woman named Lydia, another of the main characters. She’s a paladin who’s loyalties lie with the goddess Sytera, she’s responsible for bringing to justice those who transgress against her religious beliefs. She’s not all bad though, I actually got to like her more through the book.
Enter in main character number three, Jonan. Jonan’s loyalties and what he really wants remains hidden through most of the book, leaving an air of mystery and a nagging feeling that there’s more going on than there seems. He shows up right as Talien is being rescued by Lydia, it turns out he’s already there because he also wanted to rescue Talien and Lydia just happened to be there.
All three of them start to investigate why there are people going missing, specifically from a race known as the Rethri. They look almost identical to humans, except they have eyes with no whites in the sclera, they are a solid pure color that indicates which Dominion they are tied to. The biology of the Rethri is more diverse than their appearance would let on, they live longer than humans, and almost all of them can tie themselves strongly to a single Dominion during a closely gaurded rite of passage ritual. These people have been going missing for years, and they want to know why. It involves breaking into places they shouldn’t be, and poking around in the business of the Gods.
Talien and Lydia are both characters that are borderline noble bright, capable of making sacrifices for people other than themselves. While Talien is captured, he tries to rescue another humanoid prisoner even though their races aren’t on great terms and he may get attacked. He did get attacked, and he kept trying to get him out anyway because he couldn’t stand the thought of leaving a sentient being to die via torture alone in a dungeon. It’s things of that nature that make Talien an easy to like character, and one you can root for enthusiastically.
Jonan is a liar, from the very beginning you know he’s hiding things but you don’t know what at first. I found myself really enjoying his chapters because they added to the intrigue and tension of the overall plot.
The world building is intense just like it is in SAM, there are many different religions belonging to different areas of the world. Some of the religions are outlawed in foreign countries, some of the Gods from these religions get involved in mortal society and are political figures, and there’s a TON of magic. If you want to learn more about the magic system, if that’s a draw for you in SAM and not something you look past to get to other things – check out this book.
The “planar” theory to how magic works in this book states that there are multiple dimensions, each called a Dominion. The Dominions can be things like Dreams, Nightmares, Sight, Illusion, Healing etc. It’s said that there are habitable parts of each of these Dominions, and that creatures can and do live on the other side. It’s rumored that a monster from the Nightmare Dominion slaughtered a family of 5.
When someone taps into a Dominion they’re able to use powers from said Dominion, and humans are able to channel more than one if they dedicate enough study to it.
The writing style is very similar to SAM, and it also has some of the same style of incantations/spellcasting as SAM. So if you’re not into the long “Goddess of Wind and Fire, lend me…” kind of things that SAM did, sorry but they’re in here too. I find it kind of charming.
The pacing was good, it started out a little slower as you get to know the characters and it builds on itself to a really satisfying ending. The last 1/3 of the book I was flying through it wanting to know more about what was going on. I will say though that the beginning was a bit choppy due to a flashback. When Talien is being broken out of jail, it flashes back to 12 hours before from Lydia’s POV. I think it would have been smoother if Lydia’s POV came first and then an introduction to Talien.
Of course, the originality of these two series is pretty remarkable, and probably one of the biggest draws for me. There’s not really anything else out there like it, there are books that have elements like this, but I don’t know of another epic fantasy that’s this influenced by LitRPG. It’s a psuedo-litrpg with a ton of epic fantasy behind it, which is just awesome. The magic systems continue to impress me with how detailed and original they are.
For people who like:
- Sufficiently Advanced Magic
- Lots of magic
- high fantasy
- multi pov
- female pov
- lighter tone
- great audio
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 11/15
- World Building: 14/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 13/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 81.5/100 – 4 stars