Catherine Estrada's Reviews > The Universal Mirror

The Universal Mirror by Gwen Perkins
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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 magical bent. In most cases, magicians are found in the upper classes, and trained at university. Rarely, someone from the merchant class is identified with magic and also trained. Ashael is one such merchant, who formed an unlikely friendship with Quentin in their school days, despite the differences in their social class. Years after university, Quentin is in the marriage that he wanted, but it’s miserable, and so he tries to find out if magic can be worked on living people, despite the fact that this practice is Heresy. As a noble, the chance that he’d be strictly punished is pretty slim, but he drags Ashael along on his quest, and the consequences are more than either man would have expected.

Quentin is noble to a “T” and the characterization is just fantastic. He’s a complete jerk to everyone, and a lot of his problems could have been solved by a simple rational conversation, rather than haring about the city trying to break magical laws. Ashael on the other hand is loyal, honorable, and hardworking, not to mention willing to risk everything to help his friend. Unfortunately for both of them, there’s a lot more going on in Cercia than they realized, and they’re walking right into the thick of it.

While The Universal Mirror wasn’t the obsessive page-turning read that I expected, it was definitely good, and puts a very different spin in the common use of magic in fiction. This book strikes me as historical and magical together, in the vein of The Sword of Truth. Definitely worth checking out!

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Reading Progress

May 6, 2012 – Started Reading
May 7, 2012 – Shelved
May 9, 2012 – Finished Reading

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