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The Universal Mirror

(Artifacts of Empire #1)

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  139 ratings  ·  52 reviews
On the island of Cercia, the gods are dead, killed by their followers and replaced with the study of magic. Magicians are forbidden to leave their homeland. Laws bind these men that prevent them from casting spells on the living—whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, challenges these laws out of love for his wife. His best friend, Asahel, defies authority at
Kindle Edition, 1, 178 pages
Published January 9th 2012 by Hydra Publications
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3.58  · 
Rating details
 ·  139 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
I was falling behind on my target of books to read and so I flicked through my Kindle, trying to find a book under 200 pages. Lo and behold, I came across this one, a book I had stumbled across for free on Amazon. I'm quite partial to fantasy and this sounded interesting so I thought it would be a good filler book...

Oh my, was it so much more than that. I honestly am tempted to give it 5 stars but I am very tight when it comes to that honour, having only done so with a few books. But this was th
Mary Fan
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy
On the island of Cercia, magicians are forbidden to leave and bound by strict laws called the Heresies. No magician is to practice magic on a human being, living or dead. But that doesn’t stop Quentin, a young and arrogant nobleman, from secretly engaging the services of a grave robber so he can hone his supernatural craft. His best friend, a good-hearted man of a lower class called Asahel, reluctantly aides him in his efforts, knowing that if they are caught, they will be executed. Quentin’s mo ...more
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it
The plot tended to move rather slowly. Taking the time to fully flesh out the characters, which was nice. However, the lack of action tended to leave me finding myself distracted from the book. During both books I found my mind drifting and had to make myself concentrate deeply.

The writing was good. There were times when the dialogue was confusing and I didn't know who was speaking. But when there was action it was really well written.
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
Mon avis en français

My English review

I don’t read a lot of fantasy books but it’s always pleasant to get into a story like this one. I didn’t know Gwen Perkins but it was a real pleasure to discover her first novel.

This volume features two best friends who want a new life. Two magicians who want to counter the laws of their island to cure and save people suffering from plague. Of course, Quentin has a much more personal motive, his wife that he loves more than anything has some after-effects sin
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is a unique, well told story about men who practice magic on an island called Cercia. Men, mostly of noble families, are gifted in magic but their use of it is highly restricted and limited. Magic used on a person is considered heresy and throughout the story, you are hardly shown anyone who actually uses magic (though it is depicted as energy from the earth, energy that builds in times of chaos, and energy that hums and begs to be chann
Desiree Finkbeiner
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
One of the best books I've read in years! Well written and well researched, the characters and customs of the people fit in perfectly with historical customs of the time period. And though it was a fictional place, the island of Cercia, Gwen's makes it feel real...

The story builds in suspense with every chapter, and drew me in immediately with the tension of grave digging, forbidden magic, rotting corpses, lost love, murder, betrayal and secret conspiracies... Unexpected turns are in store for t
Wanda Hartzenberg
Feb 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
On the island of Cercia, the gods are dead, killed by their followers and replaced with the study of magic. Magicians are forbidden to leave their homeland. Laws bind these men that prevent them from casting spells on the living—whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, challenges these laws out of love for his wife. His best frien...d, Asahel, defies authority at his side, unaware that the search for this lost magic will bring them both to the edge of reason, threatening their very
Catherine Estrada
May 07, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: review-copy
I really expected to tear through The Universal Mirror with reckless abandon and complete disregard for the rest of the real world. Based on the summary and some other reviews, I figured it would be completely epic. Unfortunately, it fell somewhat short of epic for me, and I think I went into it with too many preconceived notions. However, that’s not to say I didn’t like it, because it was good, it just didn’t quite rock my world.

Cercia is an island that has a strong caste system, and a huge mag
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
***I received this book free on the condition I reviewed it upon reading***

First off I have to say, this book is one that isn't shy about dropping you right off in the action. No build up, no warning, you are just thrown into the world and left to figure out what the hell is going on. I like that.
However it someone managed to feel a bit slow to start up, in a strange paradox kind of way. This could just be due to the fact that you are trying to figure out who is who, what is going on, where you
Sep 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of this book from the author for an honest review.

The first few chapters of this book where a bit hard to follow as it was a bit confusing trying to figure out who was doing what and why. Then I realized that was the whole point of the secrecy behind what the two main characters were doing. As the book continues the plot starts to unfold and you see a new world of magic unveiled before you. One of classes as strict and conforming as those of the early European Courts, to corrup
Mar 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an interesting world, where God is dead and magic has survived. But why? In the land of Cercia magicians are trained at the University in the art of magic and of its many rules. They are so well trained it seems they never use any magic at all. SInce most magicians come from rich families there seems to be no practical application for magic at all. These kinds of situations almost always lead to some kind of rebellion which is where we find Asahel and Quentin. They may not realize that t ...more
J. Aaron Parish
Jul 14, 2012 rated it liked it
Sometimes you really like a concept and an author’s concept and you want to give the work a really glowing review. But there are just a few stumbling blocks that file a bit of its edge off. The Universal Mirror is like that.

Now, don’t get me wrong. This is very well-written book. I recommend it for any fantasy fans out there, especially if you can get it free on Kindle. Perkins creates some really good characters. She’s got a nice world and a unique magic system that includes something lacking i
WTF Are You Reading?
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
My Review
This story is so much more than it seems at the outset.
When first we meet our cast of characters, it seems as though Quentin has all the cards and young master Asahel is nothing more than his "lesser than" sidekick. The further into the story that we go however, the more we come to see that this is far from the case.
The "greater than...less than dynamic is one that permeates all of the relationships within this story; but rather than becoming trite, it changes given the particular circ
Lynn Worton
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
On the island of Cercia, after a war where all the gods were killed, magicians were forbidden to leave their homeland and laws were created to prevent them from casting their spells on the living - whether to harm or heal.
When the island is affected by a plague, Quentin, a young nobleman defies authority out of love for his wife. His best friend Asahel helps him with his experiments. Knowing that the punishment for heresy is severe if found out, Quentin is determined to heal the damage caused by
Sara Kovach
Mar 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2012
This is a very unique fantasy story, one in which I enjoyed reading very much. In the beginning, I was scratching my head and wondering if this was for me, not sure what was going on, but it didn't take long, and once I got into it, I just couldn't put it down.

Perkins did an excellent job with the characters. Each character was so fleshed out, I think they could have walked out of the pages at any time. It would be so easy to create a movie based on what she created. In addition to the characte
Byron Wells
May 16, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
Note: This review is my opinion, and it is skewed to my likes and preferences.

The Universal Mirror was a well written book, which I enjoyed reading.  I give it 4.25 – 4.50 stars. 

Magic – it was thought out and followed rules which the author established in the book; for example, the magician had to be in contact with the earth in order for the magic to flow.  She also established Heresies which the magician could commit, with the requisite punishments

- Leave the island

- Cast magic on a living b
Lindsay Kendal
May 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed

This is great fantasy story. Something different to what I’ve read previously. The characters are likeable and the story flows well.

The storyline itself isn’t too in depth, but the characters, settings and practically everything else you find in the book makes up for this. I liked Asahel the most I think. Although at the beginning of the book he seems to be belittled and the under-dog, as we progress through the pages we find this definitely isn’t the case. Yeah, I like him a lot.

The idea of t
Jess Mountifield
May 28, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arr, added-2012, read-2012
This book was nicely original, especially in the way magic was used and I quickly felt for the characters and their situation, willing them on to achieve their goal. All in all I actually felt the book was a little short. I think the same story could have been told with more words and more decription of the events but I still enjoyed the book and didn't like to put it down.

There were a few points I got a little confused and wasn't sure what was happening and where etc and I think there could hav
William Bentrim
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Universal Mirror by Gwen Perkins

Gwen Perkins has created a universe pregnant with potential sequels. This book introduces some memorable characters as well as an environment where magicians are curtailed in their art by a corpulent led bureaucracy and love is being thwarted.

This is as much a love story as a magical fantasy. Quentin is obsessed with finding a way for his wife to love him. His actions place both his friend and his enemy in dire straits. I enjoyed the characterizations. Ms. Perkin
Ruth B
Mar 07, 2012 rated it really liked it
"How do you know if you're doing the right thing?"
That would be the question that Ashael has to deal through the story. Helping is friend, Quentin, in the quest of a higher power, and breaking the laws all along, he found himself between what's right and what wrong, not always knowing wich one is what.
In the Island of Cercia the magicians live according to some rules that not always seem fair.
And that fact leads this two men to take some dangerous choices.
All the characters in the book (wich a
Rachel Hunter
Feb 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In "The Universal Mirror", Gwen Perkins forged an intriguing plot ridden with magical tendencies and corrupt government. She created a neatly packaged world, defined brilliantly by research and a marked penchant for the fantastical realm. As I read, I felt as though I were fully immersed in the tale itself; I could feel the ocean's waves upon my calves and taste the salty air upon my lips.

The characters are more than mere names upon a page; they seem to breath with life at every word and pull yo
James Peercy
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Magic with morality - can there be such a thing?

A land protected by itself, held aloft from the other races of men, The Universal Mirror stands out from the crowd. It is world where magicians are born, learn to wield magic, and are bound by the rules of a counsel. Yet, when rules contradict for the good of all, when questions are not allowed to be asked, can a people truly be free?

Gwen Perkins does an excellent job describing this world, pulling you into the intrigue, and then allowing you to ex
Mar 05, 2012 rated it it was ok
Well written, though unfortunately I just couldn't get in to it.

The story was too drawn out and too verbose for me, though I found the storyline intriguing and heartfelt. The characters themselves had a lot of backstory, which was a pro in my opinion, but I just couldn't come to like the characters very much. In particular I found Catharine deplorable and Quentin to be less than the brightest lightbulb in the box. That said, I was so frustrated after a certain point I stopped paying attention to
Elizabeth Jasper
Jun 07, 2012 rated it it was ok
I really struggled with this book. I've now made two attempts to get into it but I'm afraid I'm going to have to pass after reading less than 20%. The main reason for this is overwriting - there is no physical experience too small to describe in detail and in the first couple of chapters so much skin, so many noses, cheeks etc. are going red with emotion that I found it difficult to get into the actual story. It slowed the pace and became irritating for me - others obviously do not agree and I r ...more
Jason Kivela
Jan 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
A great first novel in what I hope is a long running series. The characterization was great, I saw great depth in all of the characters. A very interesting world, with unique rules for magic. Great plot, good pacing, well writen throughout. I can't wait for the next one!
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Universal Mirror is an enchanting story that pulled me in from the beginning. The language and style of this book is exquistedly done, the characters are compelling, and the story is unique and engaging. I thouroughly enjoyed it!

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Jun 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was a good book. The ending seemed a bit abrupt and expected to a degree. The characters were well developed and the concept was intriguing. I did enjoy reading this and would read more by this author.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I was given this book by the author in return for an honest review.

I found this to a really good read and it had a good story line that was easy to keep up with. I really liked the character's as I thought they were well written as was the story. Can't wait to read more by this author
Cecilia Robert
Apr 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: blog-tour, fantasy
Review to come.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
My complete review can be found on my blog.
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Gwen Perkins is a museum curator with a MA in Military History from Norwich University. She has written for a number of magazines, exhibitions and nonfiction publications. Her interest in history fueled the creation of the world of The Universal Mirror, inspired in part by people and events of the medieval and Renaissance periods.

The Universal Mirror is the first novel of the Artifacts of Empire

Other books in the series

Artifacts of Empire (2 books)
  • The Jealousy Glass (Artifacts of Empire, #2)