The Universal Mirror by Gwen Perkins (VO)

Synopsis: On the island of Cercia, the gods are dead, killed by their followers and replaced with the study of magic. Magicians are forbidden to leave their homeland. Laws bind these men that prevent them from casting spells on the living—whether to harm or to heal.

Quentin, a young nobleman, challenges these laws out of love for his wife. His best friend, Asahel, defies authority at his side, unaware that the search for this lost magic will bring them both to the edge of reason, threatening their very souls. The Universal Mirror shows how far two men are willing to go for the sake of knowledge and what they will destroy to obtain it.

Review: I don’t read a lot of fantasy books but it’s always pleasant to get into a story like this one. I didn’t know Gwen Perkins but it was a real pleasure to discover her first novel.
This volume features two best friends who want a new life. Two magicians who want to counter the laws of their island to cure and save people suffering from plague. Of course, Quentin has a much more personal motive, his wife that he loves more than anything has some after-effectssince her childhood. He wants now to cure her so she could be as beautiful as she was before and maybe love him back in return. He will be helped in this quest by his friend Asahel, despite he is more cautions and suspicious. Yes because I have to say, if you’re arrested for heresy you can be condemned to death or even worse. However, whatever is going on, Quent is more than determined to find an answer to his quest, at all costs! But of course, nothing is simple and nothing is enough hidden, mainly when everybody keeps an eye on everybody.
I was very intrigued by this different world despite it was difficult for me to really understand this people, mainly why they didn’t resist more to these laws. Everything is so regulated and it’s so unpleasant to be watched like that all the time. But there are some other subtleties I didn’t understand about this universe. It’s however very interesting to follow our two protagonists in their research and to try to understand all those conspiracies we didn’t expect.
Quentin and Asahel are very different the one from the other. Asahel is grateful to his friend and tries to do everything he can to help him, even if he knows it’s sometimes not a good idea. He is however very naïve and it’s quite sad to see how he is manipulated by everyone. Especially when in the end, he doesn’t realize the actions of those around him.
I have to say that the character I really enjoyed was Catherine. It’s a young woman very hard to define. We don’t understand at first why Quentin wants to help this cold woman. Whatever he tries todo, she pusheshim away, to the point that he believes he is the person she hates most in the world. But all of this isn’t real, we learn to know her all along the chapters despite I think I didn’t really understand her true feelings; everything is so conflicting when it’s about her.
This story was very interesting to follow and we discover some nice surprises. I think a lot of aspects deserved to be more developed to really understand what was going on. This novel was finally for me an initiation for a bigger story. We approach a lot of topics but a few are developed which was unfortunate. It’s however a pleasant book to discover and I hope there will be soon a sequel for the adventures of Asahel because everything seems to start now.

8 thoughts on “The Universal Mirror by Gwen Perkins (VO)

  1. I saw this book somewhere earlier this week, but I don’t remember where. It didn’t really catch my eye then but from your review it sounds like it could well be an interesting fantasy escapade!

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