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The Mirror of Her Dreams

(Mordant's Need #1)

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  13,295 ratings  ·  436 reviews
With The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Stephen R. Donaldson changed the face of fantasy fiction forever. In The Mirror of Her Dreams, the astonishing first novel in the two-volume Mordant’s Need series, Donaldson shows us a world of wondrous beauty and seductive illusion, where mirrors hold the deadliest of magics and nothing is what it seems. . . .

The daughter of rich bu
Paperback, 654 pages
Published June 3rd 2003 by Del Rey (first published September 12th 1986)
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Kenneth Hindle-May It's not a fast book by any means. Donaldson is never an easy author to read - he makes the reader work pretty damn hard before the payoff. That has i…moreIt's not a fast book by any means. Donaldson is never an easy author to read - he makes the reader work pretty damn hard before the payoff. That has its benefits, but it's a style that's fallen out of fashion with modern readers accustomed to more accessible writing.

This particular book is a slow burner. I came to it as a big Donaldson fan having read the Gap Series and Thomas Covenant books, but I remember really struggling with it. I laboured my way through it and then, about 75% of the way through, the story just takes off like a rocket and proceeds at pace through the entire second book. I'd say the main plot really demands this, though, and wouldn't work any other way.

So in summary, it is a slow burner so just enjoy the nice world and really original magical concepts safe in the knowledge that it does eventually pick up!(less)
This answer contains spoilers… (view spoiler)

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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  13,295 ratings  ·  436 reviews

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Dec 31, 2012 rated it did not like it
Main character too frustrating and not entirely credible

I was disappointed and even slightly disgusted by "The Mirror of Her Dreams" and its sequel, "A Man Rides Through."

SPOILER ALERT! I don't give away the end or even the middle, but still a bit of a SPOILER...

My biggest complaint was that this was too obviously a middle-aged male author's botched attempt at portraying a young female protagonist (Terisa). Terisa's thoughts and motivations were heavily-influenced by MALE psyche and ego to the p
Feb 20, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: epic-fantasy
Unlike his Thomas Covenant, this duology is one of my favorites. I really love the characters, and the story is really interesting and well-told.
June 2020 re read review

I stand by my rating and review from 2016.

This is NOT a romance read but has a romantic thread. There are a lot of emotional charges and is not for those looking for a comfort read.

There is lying, political intrigue, and the reader truly has no idea who is a traitor most of the time.

I would like to add that anyone who decides to read this needs to understand that Terisa is very frustrating in this book for most of it. She does however steadily and slowly grow more asserti
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book about 15 years ago and it's still one of my top favorite fantasy novels today. When the book opens Terisa Morgan is a beautiful girl, living in a busy city but she feels cut off from the rest of humanity. She has no close friends, no family that really care about her, no ties to anyone- and that lack has left a deep impression on her. It's gotten so bad that Terisa has covered her entire apartment in mirrors and she spends hours sitting in front of them, trying to prove to ...more
Jul 16, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sf-fantasy, audio, dnf
In a word: Boring. Prolix.

In two words: glacial plotting. Unsympathetic characters.

In five words: Pathetic, colorless, wimpy uninteresting heroine.

I'm 1/3 of the way through listening to this (9 hours or so!!) and I'm thinking of quitting. Maybe I'll read it so I can skim. God he's wordy and keeps saying the same thing over and over and over again (maybe I don't exist, my father didn't love me). Boohoo. Hullo? We get it!!

Mostly, I want to slap the heroine. And the king. Or kill them both so th
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fantasy fans
Recommended to Lynne by: Husband
Shelves: fantasy-sci-fi
Every three years or so, I go back and read these two books. Terisa Morgan is a rich girl living in a high-rise in NYC when a handsome young man from an alternate reality stumbles into her apartment through one of her mirrors. His home is in danger; he was headed somewhere else to pick up a champion with armor and weapons and ended up in Terisa's apartment instead.

You see, in his world, mirrors are portals to other worlds. "Imagers" do research and create these mirrors. One Imager creates a mir
Jan 03, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
One of the most problematic reads I have ever picked up. It ended up in my trash can. Never. Again.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I read this way back in 1987 when I picked up a copy at the library. I wasn't reading much at that time and I had yet to discover Thomas Covenant. The blurb on the back intrigued me so I checked it out.

I loved this book! I fell in love with Terisa and Geraden. I think part of me related to Terisa or maybe part of me WANTED to relate to Terisa. And of course I was in love with Geraden. Since it's been so long since I've read it, my mind is fuzzy on some of the details but I cer
Dec 23, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, favorites

4.5 Stars for Narration by Scott Brick
4.5 Stars for Unusual Characters
4 Stars for Setting

I read this book when I was in middle school and re-read it a few times into my late teens. I loved it back then because I thought it was a cool romance about a woman traveling into a medieval world with magic. It's years later and some of those opinions are reinforced in the current re-read.

- I was less picky about suspension of belief back then.
- The Mirror of Her Dreams is still a r
A.J. Maguire
May 17, 2012 rated it it was ok
I chose this book because the author was said to have redefined the Fantasy genre ... and since I write fantasies, I thought it a good idea to check this one out.

While the world was compelling and the plot was interesting, I could not get over my dislike for the main character. Teresa was weird at first, and her sense of detachment to the world was a little sympathetic -- but I stress "at first." As the plot continued forward, I grew to hate her. Midway through the book, I wanted to bash my hea
May 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of my favourite two-part series, which is interesting because the main character is not really that likeable of a person. She's indecisive, easily pushed around and a bit of a whiner. That being said, it makes sense that she is these things because of the way she was raised and for some reason, it made me want to see her come into her own.

I think it's the universe that is the most interesting to me. To be able to travel between worlds via mirrors was something I always pretended was
Megan Lillian
Mar 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Subtle is a good description of this book. It has an almost Alice in Wonderland quality, with more time spent being lost in the main character's confusion than lost in the unfamiliar customs and creatures of an alternate world. Although complex, and at times bogged down with its own intricate details, this book was very well-crafted. Context clues leave no room for last moment twists and yet somehow the suspense still remains. It's like the proverbial train-wreck you can see coming a mile off an ...more
One of my favorite fantasies. The protagonist is passive and unsure of herself, but that just makes the political intrigue of the world she's taken to that more intricate and fascinating. I love books with twisty political mysteries, and this one is full of them. ...more
Aug 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Fantasy w/Lots of Detail & Intrigue
Reviewed for THC Reviews
I first read The Mirror of Her Dreams probably close to twenty-five years ago, so when I picked it up for a re-read, I barely recalled anything about the story. As I read, some small things started to come back to me, but by and large, it was like reading it for the first time all over again. The thing I did remember was really liking the book the first time around, and while I did still enjoy it this time, I picked up on a few things that I would kind of consider flaws.
I got so far through this book.... I was halfway done. And that's saying something because this book is a massive brick! I wanted to finish. I really did, but I've realized after putting it down in April and not picking it back up a few months later that there is no way I can force myself to read it.

At first I was interested. I thought that the magic with the mirrors was very cool, but that can only carry the book for so long. The main character, Terisa, was far too frustrating for me to handle
Joanne G.
I know the author wanted to show the reader the progression of a timid girl into a strong, fierce woman, but the protagonist started out so insipid and cowardly, she irritated me constantly. I made myself read the sequel--it is a two-part story--and it was a more enjoyable read once the heroine got a backbone. However, Donaldson uses too many similes and metaphors for my taste. He also has a low regard for his readers' ability to figure anything out, so everything is explained in excruciating de ...more
Lisa Dice
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this 2 book series. As always, the main requirement of crisp well-defined characters has been met. The storyline is unique (to me) and I totally relate to the main character, which as I have read in other reviews totally irritates many of the other readers... explains alot on other peoples irritation for me through the years (I guess). (I also relate to her counterpart lead character) But yet I totally understand the feeling of invisibility... the struggle... the feeling of having valuab ...more
Mark Harrison
Dec 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this. New York girl who is from a wealthy family but leads a nothing life is transported to Mordant - a land being threatened by two neighbour who seek control of the cadre of Imagers who reside there. Is she there by accident or is she really their saviour ?? Aided by the accident prone apprentice Geraden the heroine battles all the intrigues of Court, the assassins sent to silence her, the smooth talking rogue Eremis and tries to fathom why the brilliant King sits idly by whilst ...more
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This 2 book story is my favorite fantasy novel of all time. I reread it every couple of years. While it's obviously well written, because Donaldson never puts out a book that isn't, I think it's the core of each character that moves me the most. Each recognizes their imperfections, doubts their strength, but just keeps moving forward and accomplishing more than they thought possible. And while recognizing their own weaknesses, they also recognize the strengths in each other and band together to ...more
Mike (the Paladin)
Oct 08, 2009 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
You may have read my reviews of Mr. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant books. I felt trapped in them....his life is crap attitude and the constant "woe is me" attitude drove me crazy. A friend recommended these to me and I mentioned how I felt about the Covenant books. She assured me that these were different...I open the book..and the main character started "woe is me". Enough. If you like it, I'm happy for you. ...more
Jul 22, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: on-spec
OTP GAME TOO REAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I don't know why I had so much trouble with this last year, unless perhaps I was so repelled by Master Eremis that I just ollied right out (to my past self: that's fair. Dude is 500% ollie-worthy), as this time around I just about blasted through it. Truth be told this is fairly standard swords-and-sorcery fantasy with thinly sketched supporting characters and a great deal of emphasis on the usual Fake Europe Fantasyland political machinations with the bad guys fai
Actual rating: 2.5 stars

Stephen Donaldson is a decent writer—he writes plots that make me want to keep on reading. But he creates characters that I just hate! I couldn’t stomach any more of Thomas Covenant after reading two books. Now, I’m confronted with Terisa Morgan, possibly the dullest, most slow witted, whiniest protagonist that I have ever encountered in science fiction and fantasy. Hand her over to the Castellan, she could benefit from a bit of torture, just to make her realize that life
May 23, 2007 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
After 11/22/63, I needed a palate cleanser. Something I didn't have to worry about too much. This book--which I first read back in junior high or high school--fit the bill perfectly. It's a fat, fluffy, fantasy novel and you know it's all going to come right in the end.

What I didn't remember (this is a recurring theme with books I revisit as an adult) is quite how sexist the whole thing was. I'm not going to complain about Terisa's passivity; he made a good case for why she is the way she is, a
Nov 21, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fantasy
The book is well-written, and some parts are actually enjoyable, but I only gave it one star because half of the book focused on a character which I found to be absolutely irritating. Halfway into it, I was prepared to throw it away. I found the character to be that annoying. But, I didn't throw it away. Instead, I skipped all the way to the end, and found out that this character, Terisa Morgan, doesn't get any better. She stays almost as weak and stupid as she was at the start of the novel, onl ...more
Nov 14, 2012 rated it liked it
It's been a while since I read this book. Stephen Donaldson has a way of creating thoroughly dislikeable lead characters. I found the same with his Thomas Covenant series, where I was getting increasingly annoyed with Thomas' whining and poor action. This book is much the same in that regard as Terisa's self-involved ignorance gave me, to put it crudely, the shits. There were so many instances in which even a young child would have thought 'hang on a sec, this doesn't seem right' and yet she is ...more
The One Tree
Jul 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
NO spoilers. (July, 2012)

This is my 'go to' duology. When I'm feeling blue, or need a pick-me-up, I pull out these two novels. I have no idea how many times I have read them, but I have read them a lot.

I have no idea why, as it's not the most uplifting of stories, but then perhaps it's the fight for good, or something along those lines? I'm not too sure, and I don't really want to analyze it. Suffice to say, that I've had the series for two decades now (ick, that long? Where DOES the time go?),
Apr 08, 2007 rated it really liked it

Edited: Dear Stephen R Donaldson-- Write shorter books!!
heh- This book happens to be part one of two. No part of the book actually mentions it, not the dust cover, nor the title page, nor any other decent location. You realize that this is a two booker series when you get to about thirty pages before the end, realize that all of the threads he has opened can't possibly finish by the end of those thirty pages and scream in frustration because 'damn it! it was getting really good'.

Donaldson seems
Aug 31, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Meh
My god this book draaaaags. It is an interesting story about a girl who ends up in another world and has to deal with that world and all of its intrigue but boy does it need a good editor. It isn't that he goes into too much detail about the world. The problem is that there is so much detail about every little decision that the main character makes. Actually, a different heroine would be good too. She is just so dense you want to scream at the book. "NO! Don't do that! What are you doing? How mu ...more
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the feel the prologue gave to the whole book. Several of the characters were week and frustrating, but the teased curse in the prologue made it excusable.
This was a book club book and I didn't do my due diligence to realize before the last 20 pages this was a duology, which gave out a very sudden and unsatisfying ending.
After I read the 2nd book I may come back a chance my star rating. Up if it wraps up many of the mysteries the 1st book has me invested in our down if it doesn'
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Stephen Reeder Donaldson is an American fantasy, science fiction, and mystery novelist; in the United Kingdom he is usually called "Stephen Donaldson" (without the "R"). He has also written non-fiction under the pen name Reed Stephens.


Stephen R. Donaldson was born May 13, 1947 in Cleveland, Ohio. His father, James, was a medical missionary and his mother, Ruth, a prostheti

Other books in the series

Mordant's Need (2 books)
  • A Man Rides Through (Mordant's Need, #2)

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“The story of Terisa and Geraden began very much like a fable. She was a princess in a high tower. He was a hero come to rescue her. She was the only daughter of wealth and power. He was the seventh son of the lord of the seventh Care. She was beautiful from the auburn hair that crowned her head to the tips of her white toes. He was handsome and courageous. She was held prisoner by enchantment. He was a fearless breaker of enchantments.

As in all the fables, they were made for each other.”
“He was too many things at once - a boy, a man, and everything in between - and the differing parts of himself seldom came into balance. She found him attractive in that way. Yet the perception saddened her: she herself wasn't too many things, but too few.” 9 likes
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