Did Not Finish – Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

20646731eARC provided by the publisher in exchange for fair review

Summary:

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 rises, an illegitimate ruler is tasked with holding together a country fractured by civil war, a precocious young fighter is asked to betray his family and a half-Dhai general must choose between the eradication of her father’s people or loyalty to her alien Empress.

Through tense alliances and devastating betrayal, the Dhai and their allies attempt to hold against a seemingly unstoppable force as enemy nations prepare for a coming together of worlds as old as the universe itself.

In the end, one world will rise – and many will perish.

Review:

I’m back! It was funny, once I gave myself the permission to slow down in my reading, I started getting the itch to read again within hours. I picked up the book again and I did start getting into it a little more than I had from before I declared my break. But as I kept going, I felt myself slowing down again and I began to wonder whether it was me or the book. A funny thing happened then: another blogger tweeted how it’d taken 18 days to finish a particular book, and aside from the ending she didn’t know how she felt about it.

My first reaction was “holy shit – 18 days?!” as a blogger, that’s practically an eternity. I’m averaging about 10 books a month right, or roughly one every three days. To take that long is inconceivable. But I realized that was the path I was heading on. The second thing that struck me is that take that long meant that she might have respected the book enough to continue on, but she wasn’t enjoying it. There was something that was keeping her from connecting, or else it wouldn’t have taken that long to get through it. And something was keeping me from connecting with this book, or I wouldn’t have felt such apathy towards continuing on.

I wanted to make it through. I wanted to like this book. Hurley just picked up two Hugo awards and this book has gotten a lot of praise. And I can see why too – there’s some good stuff here. The magic system is interesting (though perhaps could be a bit more defined), the world feels alive in dangerous and the play with traditional gender roles (and even genders). Because of that I want to still encourage people to give this book a look. It’s not working for me, but it’s so unique in today’s epic fantasy landscape that I can’t not pass word along.

Give it a shot. It may not be my book, but it still could be yours.

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