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The Mirror Empire

(Worldbreaker Saga #1)

3.50  ·  Rating details ·  4,579 ratings  ·  805 reviews
On the eve of a recurring catastrophic event known to extinguish nations and reshape continents, a troubled orphan evades death and slavery to uncover her own bloody past… while a world goes to war with itself.

In the frozen kingdom of Saiduan, invaders from another realm are decimating whole cities, leaving behind nothing but ash and ruin.

As the dark star of the cataclysm
Paperback, 540 pages
Published August 26th 2014 by Angry Robot (first published August 15th 2014)
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Arctic Llama Yes. The second book just came out in December, I think.

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Average rating 3.50  · 
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Originally reviewed at Bookwraiths Reviews

One of the difficult things about reviewing books for me personally is having to write a less than favorable opinion. Not that I can’t be just as negative as the next person, because obviously it’s not hard to close a novel and say to a friend “Don’t waste your time. That story sucked.” Nope, my problem is trying to isolate why I did not appreciate a novel, analyze if my issues are just that: my issues, or a real deficiency of the story, and then write
Stefan Bach
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
There’s a certain amount of trust you’ll need when it comes to reading a challenging book such as this.

Book that is a masterpiece in every way.
(But book that makes you feel uncomfortable.)
Clever, political, unapologetic and daring.
(But will achieve that by questionable deeds of questionable characters.)
Packed with vivid imagination and originality like none before.
(But it will be confusing if not given proper attention.)
Book that’s different.
(Book that is very different.)

So you need to
Jul 30, 2014 added it
Shelves: work
No rating. Work. Structural edit.

With the caveat that I edited this novel (and therefore no rating) - and here is the process:

In the acquisitions meeting for The Mirror Empire, I argued very strongly for us to take on Kameron’s novel. I thought it was incredibly clever, complex and challenging to the reader. And I also thought, “Good luck to the person who is editing the novel!” Then I found out it was me...

The reason I wished good luck to the editor? Because of the task involved in ensuring tha
I had really high hopes for this book. Powerful women, sentient plants, mirror worlds... but ultimately, I was left disappointed.

Kameron Hurley has created a really interesting world. There are multiple universes, powers that are governed by satellites that orbit the planet, and blood magic. People use dogs and bears instead of horses, women run the government, men are used for little more than sex, and there are doppelgangers. Sounds like the makings of a fascinating book (minus the whole inequ
Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Needless to say, putting this review together was quite difficult for me, on account of how very different it is from the one I thought I would be writing. I made it no secret I had high hopes for this one, not only because of the buzz the book has gotten since the ramp up to its release or all the glowing reviews it has garnered, but also I was personally very excited to finally read my first Kameron Hurley novel. Truly,
Michael Underwood
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
When we held the acquisitions meeting at Angry Robot to decide whether we were going to offer on The Mirror Empire, I told my colleagues that I would knife fight a man to get this book on our list.

Having read the whole revised novel, I would have fought three.

One of my favorite epic fantasies in recent memory. Lush, intense, provocative, sophisticated, and with an opening sequence straight out of a AAA Xbox One game.

Just go ahead and buy this one. Trust me.
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
[4.5/5 stars] Mirror Empire is one of the most unconventional books I’ve read because of its almost ruthless execution of ideas. Hurley doesn’t take time to explain anything, throwing you straight into the fire on the first page. It reminded me a lot of my experience with Erickson’s Gardens of the Moon. The world-building was rich and vibrant and the plot was so thick, it required a ton of concentration. Even now, after finishing my careful read of Mirror Empire, I still can’t be totally certain ...more
There aren’t too many books that make me take a step back and say “Wow” but this is one of them. The Mirror Empire had an absolutely amazing beginning, one of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read, and just kind of steamrolled ahead from there. It’s hard to describe just mind-blowing a read this is. It’s an utterly amazing work of epic fantasy with a feminist foundation and an abundance of strong women, and which does stunning things with gender, roles, and relationships.

What Kameron Hurley h
May 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-grim
*** 3.75 ***

This is a very imaginative and ambitious project the author has tackled. I think I didn't get the full intended experience from it, because for some reason I went into it thinking it is an Epic Fantasy. I made that mistake when the story started with the change in circumstance for a little girl and there is a grand scale war going on in at least two parallel worlds. My brain naturally tried to find characters to root for, and I was even OK with them being very flawed, expecting them
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This review was originally posted on Avid Reviews:

Every once in a while a novel comes along that is so innovative it has the potential to redefine and an entire genre. Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley is such a novel; an epic fantasy that is truly unique and remarkable. Hurley’s first novel God’s War won several awards for best debut novel in 2011, and was nominated for an Arthur C. Clark award, a Nebula award, and a Locus award. Hurley is not a newcomer wh
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a book I really, really wanted to love becuase it started out so very strong. I read this as a buddy read with Paul and Mercedes too, and we all agreed that right from page one it was incredibly gripping, original and very filled with fun stuff. However, as it went on I felt as if although Kameron Hurley was doing some very original things with gender, mental health, deformity, and acceptance and LGBTQ characters and moments, these elements felt more thrown in to shock the reader, rather ...more
Reread with SFBC folks (November 2019)
Still loved it! Found another thing I like from this book i.e. it has several POV characters who are mature, older women. As I am in my 30s now, it's great to see the women in my age group (or beyond) represented in the books I read.

First read (March 2016)
Kameron Hurley's books always blew my mind with her gender reversed roles. Maybe because I live in a country/region in which women are still widely marginalized in every strata. In this first salvo of the
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
2.5 Stars

This book was a bit of a roller-coaster ride that I really wanted to love, but it didn't happen.

I had heard wonderful things about this book and author and was very excited to read it. We're talking mirror worlds, sentient trees and plants that want to eat you at every possible chance, magic systems linked to satellites, bears and dogs that are ridden for transport, infused swords and kick-ass females fighting wars, ruling empires and protecting men who are the weaklings of this world.
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Mirror Empire is one of those books that plays heavily into my personal preferences of what I look for in reading Fantasy. It has a unique sense of wonder and one of the most imaginative world-buildings I've encountered in a long time.

Hurley hurls us into a world of bear and dog riding female warriors wielding energy-infused wooden swords. She offers us a seat at the table of a ritualistic society of cannibals. She lets us wander through organic buildings made up of vines and mushrooms.
She o
Executive Summary: This book didn't really live up to the hype for me, but it might for you. I'd like to give this a 3.5 star rating, but I just can't round that up to a 4 star.

Full Review
This book was getting a lot of hype from my circle of friends. Several of them seem to read nothing but ARCs these days so I always seem to get reviews and recommendations of books that are coming out. That coupled with the very reasonable ebook cost made picking this up a no brainer.

This book took a very l
Althea Ann
May 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Hurley goes epic with 'The Mirror Empire'!
Previously, I've read her 'God's War,' and absolutely love it - it's one of those books that I randomly recommend to people looking for groundbreaking new sci-fi. Personally, I think I prefer the more personal, closer focus.
As the title might indicate, this is a tale of Empire - Empires, actually. It's big, sprawling and very, very ambitious.
The main story is one that's definitely in keeping with the epic fantasy genre: One world is at threat from a pa
Nick Borrelli
Apr 18, 2017 rated it did not like it
Brian Staveley
I had the great pleasure of reading the ARC of this remarkable novel. From my blurb:

THE MIRROR EMPIRE is epic in every sense of the word. Hurley has built a world – no, worlds – in which cosmology and magic, history and religion, politics and prejudice all play crucial roles. Prepare yourself for sentient plants, rifts in the fabric of reality, and remarkable powers that wax and wane with the stars themselves. Forget all about tentative, conventional fantasy; there’s so much great material in he
I give up. I'm just not an epic-war kind of reader. I made it to about page twenty. Certainly an interesting beginning with the magic-infused plants. The mother-daughter sacrifice can be a bit of a turn off for me. I feel like I want a different kind of story--back to the library with this one. ...more
Jul 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fantasy Review Barn

‘What one woman believes is evil, another thinks is for the greater good of her country.’

Nothing about this quote should stand out on its own, a fairly typical sentiment that tries to seem profound but really says nothing at all. A quote very much like it has a good chance of being found in most books with a defined protagonist. So why would it be pulled from a book to start a review? As always it is all about context; in this case two men having a very general conversation. S
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Good:
Like all Hurley’s stuff, this is absolutely all quality. It is intelligent. The storylines and the setting feel authentic despite big magic everywhere, and the scope is truly epic. Great ideas abound throughout the book, right down to tiny details; fork-tongued riding bears let you know that these aren’t in any way related to the bears of Earth. And if you like to see convention subverted then this is the book for you.

The Bad:
There was an undercurrent of bitterness to this work that mad
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars

After reading Stefan's review I had to have this book! I can't do the book as much justice as he can, so read his review to be convinced. However, here's my two cents on the book:

Gender roles are totally thrown out of the window for this book and boy is that weird, then interesting and then totally cool and normal. Women that are assholes and treat their men like fragile possessions and others that have a neutral gender or mutate from one gender to the next throughout their lives. Reall
Rosalyn Kelly
Feb 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
The Mirror Empire confused the crap out of me! But the worldbuilding was refreshingly unique and weird. So, although some of the time I wasn’t sure entirely what was going on, I really enjoyed it.​

It is set in a world (lets call it world 1) where the main action happens in three countries: Dhai, Saiduan and Dorinah. These three countries have a troubled relationship. The Dhai people were once all slaves and a rebellion 500 years in the past established the country of Dhai. It has a matriarchy a
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy
This book took awhile for me to get into.  It's very dense, and there is a lot of information and characters to sift through.  However, once I got into the flow of it, from about the halfway mark on, I very much enjoyed this.

The plot is rather difficult to explain without spoilers, so I'll keep it simple.  We follow different perspectives of people living across a single land, in different positions of power and different kingdoms, as they are slowly invaded by a unified opposing force.

The wor
Jul 12, 2016 marked it as dnf
Shelves: 2016
DNF @ 30%? 40%?

I'm not sure if it's because I've been reading while commuting on the tube, but lately I've found it very difficult to commit to any long fantasy series (or any series at all!) But I think even in the best reading conditions I'd have struggled with this one.

For starters, this author doesn't do explanations. I don't mind being thrown in the middle of action, I prefer it actually! But wow, was this difficult to follow...

One of the things that is usually toted as interesting is the
May 17, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-books, read-2014
3.5 Stars

Kameron Hurley is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. There are some really outstanding aspects to this book. The world building and the magic are simply phenomenal. I really enjoyed this book even though it does not achieve top marks for me. For a first book in a series things can be forgiven and seeing that the base that Hurley has built is amazing, I will surely look to book two for redemption.

This book suffers in that the world and the magic within overshadow almost all the
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
This a very hard book to write about, others have done better than me.

Its very complicated, confusing and annoying irrating at times.

its a book with multi pov from a lots of characters who are very flat hopefully they will mature in future books.

but I did enjoy it, great world(s) building good plotlines and tension to keep us hooked.

its going to get a wide range of ratings from abandoned to 5star+++++ and I will understand why. This is not for everyone.

Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Recommendation: I recommend a try on this book when it is deep discounted or borrowed from the library. Low priority TBR. An imaginative and interesting world that gets over-shadowed by an awful final act.

The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley is an epic fantasy story that starts the beginning of The Worldbreaker Saga. The Mirror Empire is a multiple POV story that covers 3 different kingdoms, with one or sometimes two characters in each kingdom. Basically there is an unknown enemy that is causing
May 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
It took me long enough to get round to this one, I know. Props to Ryan from SpecFic Junkie for poking and prodding me to finally get round to reading Kameron Hurley’s fiction. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy it, because I had read the start of both this and God’s War before, and bounced off. That seems to have been a timing/mood thing, because I found a lot to fascinate me this time. Hurley can really do weird, in ways that come to feel more organic than, say, China Miéville’s brand of weird. I c ...more
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

This is not a book for the faint of heart. I was extremely eager to read the next thing by Kameron Hurley after finishing her excellent Bel Dame Apocrypha series. Her new book takes place in an entirely different universe, as far as I can tell.

The Bel Dame series was set on a world with religions that were recognizable descendants of our own, with nations that could also be alternate versions of ours.

The Mirror Empi
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Kameron Hurley is the author of The Light Brigade, The Stars are Legion and the essay collection The Geek Feminist Revolution, as well as the award-winning God’s War Trilogy and The Worldbreaker Saga. Hurley has won the Hugo Award, Locus Award, Kitschy Award, and Sydney J. Bounds Award for Best Newcomer. She was also a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Nebula Award, and the Gemmell Morn ...more

Other books in the series

Worldbreaker Saga (3 books)
  • Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Saga, #2)
  • The Broken Heavens (Worldbreaker Saga, #3)

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