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Saturday, 31 August 2013

'Mordant's Need' by Stephen Donaldson


Mordant’s Need, a two book series from bestselling fantasy author Stephen Donaldson, follows Terisa Morgan from this world to one with a slightly medieval feel to it, where the city of Mordant is in danger, with a king that seems to have given up. Can Terisa be the answer to Mordant’s troubles?

The opening chapter does not endear the reader to Terisa. She has set up her flat with mirrors covering the walls, in order to convince herself she exists. She witters on about her need to remind herself she exists throughout a lot of the first book, but in the opening few chapters it’s just too much. It’s completely over done, giving the reader no credit for being able to pick up on subtle character traits. Instead Donaldson feels the need to repeat the same thoughts over and over again. When she is transported to Mordant by the accident prone Geraden she finds it difficult to cope with being in a place where you can’t look at a reflection of yourself without going mad. No matter though, before long she is receiving attention from some of the male characters, and this is enough to make her sense of self worth increase.

Terisa is not in any way a likable character. She is weak and foolish, and keeps returning to the same man because he’s just so irresistible to her. She allows this to confuse her in to not knowing who to trust. The reader is never in any doubt as to who she should be believing.

There are a lot of misogynistic opinions expressed in this book, not always by the characters, but by the narrator. There was one point where the opinions being expressed were so repugnant to me that I had to resist the urge to throw the book across the train. It made me actually angry, and not in a good, getting swept up in the story kind of way, just in a ‘I can’t believe that actually got past the edits’ kind of way.

If we ignore the annoying main character (who admittedly get a little more strong willed and interesting in the second book) and the endless misogynistic drivel, the basis for the story isn’t terrible. It all revolves around being able to create images in mirrors, translating objects and creatures through them, and finding a way to save Mordant. There’s also a reasonably strong romantic thread woven through the story to satisfy those who enjoy a bit of romance.

There’s a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, more than necessary I felt, as there’s not enough to really make the reader wonder if they’ve got it right. There are a few moments of excitement, and the last hundred and fifty pages or so of action aren’t too bad, but overall it’s predictable, not particularly well written, and quite long winded. I’d give this one a miss. There are some redeeming features, but nothing you couldn’t get from lots of other books that would be far more enjoyable overall.