13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-blowing start to a disappointing series.
This was the very first Irvine book I ever read and to this day it remains one of my favorite books of all time. The characters are well developed and the plot is exceptionally involved. Unfortunately, some people may be put off as this book has a rather slow start, however, once it gets going you will not be able to put it down for hours! Irvine gives his characters...
Published on 27 Feb 2004 by SueM
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, but execution is dull
All the elements of a good start to a fantasy series are here: a well-thought out world, clever plot devices, and an easy-to-read writing style. But something just doesn't work. Usually in this type of novel, you'll find lots of dramatic, plot-advancing moments, separated by transition periods. This author, however, seems to focus endlessly on the transition periods...
Published on 21 Sep 2006 by auryx
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A mind-blowing start to a disappointing series.,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)This was the very first Irvine book I ever read and to this day it remains one of my favorite books of all time. The characters are well developed and the plot is exceptionally involved. Unfortunately, some people may be put off as this book has a rather slow start, however, once it gets going you will not be able to put it down for hours! Irvine gives his characters huge scope and manages to develop all of them to a remarkable extent, while at the same time keeping the story going, unlike in so many other books when one comes at the expense of the other.
The story follows Lliam and Karan, the one a chronicler (a sort of poet/ scribe) the latter a poor landowner. Karan is coerced into stealing the mirror of the Archim, and there the story begins. Lliam is the archetypal anti-hero, while Karan is halfway in between. In this first book, the characters compliment each other well and, by the end of the book you will find yourself halfway to your local library or bookshop to read the next in the series.
If there is any criticism I would make, it is that Irvine advances his characters too much in this one book, and therefore is forced to make them regress back to what they were at the begining at the start of the second book. This makes the latter books in the series very dissapointing and almost as if they were in a different series. Therefore, while I would definitely advise you to read this book, I would also suggest that you think twice before buying any of the later books in the series, which are, at best, dissapointing.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good premise, but execution is dull,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)All the elements of a good start to a fantasy series are here: a well-thought out world, clever plot devices, and an easy-to-read writing style. But something just doesn't work. Usually in this type of novel, you'll find lots of dramatic, plot-advancing moments, separated by transition periods. This author, however, seems to focus endlessly on the transition periods. Long, long stretches of text where characters struggle across the wilderness waiting to be caught, or sit captive in enemy fortresses waiting for something to happen...the plot is good, but there just isn't enough of it in any given chapter to keep the attention. A pity, because I think the basic idea is excellent. Worth giving it a try, but not if something better is available.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant...but sometimes there is too much sufference,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)This is one of the best books I ever read. The author must be rewarded for being capable of composing the story like a puzzle, with union, separation and re-union of characters, adventure, suspense, peril, and of course love. The only thing that I'd suggest the author to be more careful with is the absurdity of some situations, not for the story (this is a fantasy book after all), but some of the situations are scarcely believable. Two examples for all: Karan's runaway through the swamps (how could possibly a human endure all that?) and Karan's and Llian's runaway from the Whelms (again, too much sufference, not humanly bearable).
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great Potential Wasted,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)The premise for the world is great, it has the "history" and soundly thought out base to back up what should have been a great novel. It is disappointing on almost every other level of being a story, however.
Plotline: would be good, but not all that much happens - I won't sum it up here, but it *can* be summarised in 3 sentences without missing much.
Narritive: there is, as someone else said, too much time spent on the "between the action" scenes - yet another example of a travel guide for a fantasy land. The author has "let's cover the whole map" syndrome as well.
Thought lines: the author doesn't seem to have grasped that sudden unexpected changes in the line of thought that he is writing is not appreciated by the reader - luckily this is only apparent at the start, he seems to have worked himself out of this annoying trait by the half-way mark.
Character point of view: most authors tell a story consistently from one character's point of view until they make a clear change (such as a blank line, new chapter, etc) to another point of view. This author will gardually shift from one to the next, giving the thoughts of one character in one paragraph and the thoughts of another in the next (and in one appalling case, two characters' thoughts in the same paragraph). This leads the reader to at first become confused after the switch and then, once they realise what has happened, they have been broken out of their immersement in the world. Poor style.
Introduction of modern words - oddities appear every now and then totally jarring with the theme that the author has worked so hard to immerse the reader in. It pulls the reader out and disturbs the reading experience.
Characters: mostly good development but occassional behavior seems out of place. I'd say that the characters are pretty average for this genre - nothing special.
All-in-all, it's an OK read - not bad enough to make me stop reading midway through - but given this four-book series, I'm not going to read anymore from this author.
Oh... an advance warning - the plotline for the second book is even worse. The ending of the second book is easy to guess once you've read about half of this book, the middle is obvious from the start of the second. Only the start of the second is unguessable.
Do you really want to waste your money buying four books that seem to get progressively worse? I'd not start. I would recommend to go to a bookshop, read the first chapter there and then to only buy this book if you *really* like that.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great background, shame about the foreground,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)The action takes place in the world of Santhenar, one of three worlds now cut off from each other by the Forbidding.
As well as Santhenar's natives, the Forbidding stranded representatives of the other two worlds, plus the Charon, a powerful race from the Void.
The world has a rich history. I particularly liked the portrayal of the Aachim, a race of immeasurable hubris whose extreme efforts to learn from their past mistakes always seems to lead to them making the opposite mistake in the future.
The book tells the story of a number of characters as they journey to the city of Thurkad, by a number of routes and for a variety of (bad) reasons. Some parts are exciting, but its basically a travellogue. The author has an excellent knowledge of geography, but even the best written descriptions of mountain terrain pale after hundreds of pages.
The heroine, Karan, steals a magical mirror. She doesn't want it, but is forced to run around the countryside keeping it away from various people who do want it.
She is accompanied by Lliam, a talented chronicler but a hopeless companion for someone in Karan's situation.
Somewhat unusually, the world's Dark Lord of Evil is currently safely locked up in the Nightland, but there are indications he might be on the verge of escaping.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Promising Series but Not a Classic Yet,
By A Customer
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)Perhaps noting the frustration of fans of Robert Jordan and George R.R. Martin at the 2-year waits between instalments of their fantasy series, publishers seem to have taken the decision to track down already-finished fantasy series from other countries and publish them in comparatively short periods of time. Sarah Douglass's two Axis trilogies were unleashed last year in this manner and now Ian Irvine follows suit. The View from the Mirror sequence, originally published in 1998-99 in Australia by Penguin, is now being released over a period of 18 months by Orbit. The View from the Mirror isn't really a series, more a single, 800,000-word novel published in four volumes for reasons of space, in a similar way to Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun or Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Of course it isn't anywhere near the same level of quality as those works, but it is nevertheless bold, inventive and, much as I hate the word, quirky. The story is that the inhabitants of Santhenar are divided between normal ('old') humans and exiles from other worlds, who have been trapped on Santhenar for a thousand years since a devastating war closed the Way Between the Worlds. The other races - the Aachim and Fallaem - both live in hope of returning to their homeworlds, but all three races are united by their terror of the Charon, who once enslaved the Aachim and almost conquered Santhenar before being destroyed, exiled or imprisoned. The book doesn't info-dump this on you, instead letting the tale gradually unfold from a small scale up to a grand epic. 'Hero' Llian is a chronicler who gets into trouble after making secret documents public knowledge and Karan is a mind-sensitive traveller who is called upon to help an old employer and ends up in possession of a magical device apparently everyone on the planet (and a few off it) are desperate to get their hands on. A thrilling start, as Karan steals the Mirror of Aachan and flees the dreaded Whelm warriors across the island of Meldorin, is soon diminished as other characters start appearing in droves and an interminable middle-sequence as Llian and Karan lost in the mountains for what seems like forever. Irving's description of geography - a talent neglected by many other fantasy authors - is excellent, but even so there is a limit to describing the misery of mountain sickness and near-exposure. When Karan has a nervous breakdown the book becomes even more misery-inducing, but the promising start and the intriguing storyline draws you on. This could have been the best start to a fantasy series since George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones, but the hard slog of getting through the second half reduces the power of the novel. Unfortunately this hardship continues into Volume 2 (except that its desert and sea that are the problems, not mountains), although the plot twists in that volume still keep you reading. Overall this is a good start to a promising series, but if Book 3 doesn't lighten up the storyline a bit, some readers may become too depressed to carry on.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the most spectacular fantasy works i have read!,
By A Customer
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)I have just completed the fourth part of the quartet and this is one of the best i have ever read it is captivating, full of suspense and action packed! I was skeptical at first i mean who is Ian Irvine? but it was a recommended read so i thought i would give it a chance and took it on holiday to France. I arrived and three days later i walked out of the hotel room this book under my belt it was amazing i could not put it down. It was so vivid and well written and the story line just draws you in and it relates you to the characters so well you almost can feel what they are going through, a true masterpiece. I would like to say thank you to Ian Irvine for gracing us with this series it just gets better and better a pity there were only 4 made!!
1.0 out of 5 stars Not sure where this goes wrong:,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)Bought the quartet as they came out starting in '96 or thereabouts when, as a teenager, I burnt my way through a lot of literature. I can remember having issues with this series of books but not having the means to express my feelings and ideas. During a recent discussion regarding fantasy I tried re-explaining my misgivings with this series to a friend (along with the Gemmell "Drenai" series and Weis & Hickmans "Sovereign Stone" trilogy) which prompted me to go back and re-read the novels to try and get back to the interesting elements that did catch my imagination enough to make the book a manageable experience.
After 8 chapters I am really resigned to the fact that perhaps my imagination is better than I thought.
The books are pondering at times, then rapid and blurring, characters are complex - but not to any ends. Flaws show up just to be flaws. Strengths emerge only when required. Simpering, whining, bullying, and obtusely motivated - there are few characters that you can draw a positive aspect out of that isn't immediately buried beneath the wealth of negatives. I can now remember that this series drags on painfully, with little resolution in sight (or experienced) by many of the characters.
I reserve particular contempt for the language. I'm willing to let slip poor editing (too many exclamation marks followed by odd "voice like butter" type statements that just jar) but I can't let the pronunciation guide slide. It is common sense to "Anglicise" the words rather than create a set of strange rules just for place names and people.
I've been asked by various friends why I keep novels I actively dislike? My reply is quite simple - these novels provide a wealth of feedback on how not to do things.
2.0 out of 5 stars Very hard going,
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This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)I really have tried to get into this book, but, having reached page 278, Llian and Karan are still trekking over the mountains and I cannot keep up any interest in what they are trying to achieve. I have read many fantasy books and this one is really not on a par with most of them. I have read all of Terry Brooks, lots of Tad Williams and the Whole of the Sword of Truth series, George RR Martin and many more, but this author cannot grab my interest.
I am just starting on Book 1 of the Eye of the World: Wheel of Time series and, only 30 pages in, can happily settle down to a really good read.
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous read,
This review is from: A Shadow On The Glass: The View from the Mirror, book 1 (Mass Market Paperback)I am currently about to start reading the third book in this series and so far i am totally engrossed in the story. The books contain fabulous amounts of detail about the places and characters and im finding it incredibly difficult to put down. The only negative thing i can think of for this book is that theres to much writing spent on the characters travelling across to different locations. I would definetly recommend the shadow on the glass to anyone as it is an excellent read and by the end you will know whether or not to continue with the series, cant wait to read the final book =D!
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A Shadow on the Glass (View from the Mirror) by Ian Irvine (Audio CD - May 2010)
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