The Heart of the Mirage
Mirage Makers #1
by Glenda Larke
One of the things that excites me about a writer is when life philosophies - whether the author’s own or not – and personal wisdom, insightful commentaries and generosity (or even meaness) of spirit is fleshed out in distinctive characterisation that has the story, as well as the characters, leaping off the page. Coupled with an amazingly vivid world that has been painstakingly constructed, yet is expressed with such ease that it never overwhelms, but rather creeps up on you, Larke has granted the reader a near-perfect escape into a breathtaking adventure.
Heart of the Mirage is so real, your pulse will race and your breath catch as nail-biting tension and hard-hitting action abound, giving you a book that takes hold of your heart and mind.
Set in an empire that spans the known world, the Exaltarch rules Tyr with an iron fist of devastating military might and socially unjust laws that are hidden behind the veil of ‘civilisation’. Among the Empire’s many enforcers, none are more feared than the secretive Brotherhood, a legion of spies and interrogators whose word is law.
Ligea Gayed is one of the Brotherhood’s most successful agents. Though not a native Tyran by birth, she has lived a privileged life as the adopted daughter of the Empire’s most celebrated General. In a world ruled by men, she has left behind a legion of enemies because she is an educated woman, a foreigner and has a preternatural ability to always know when she hears a lie. Having been crafted unknowingly, by both her father and the Exaltarch, as a secret weapon of retribution for their most humiliating military defeat, she is sent to her native homeland of Kardiastan to find a rebel leader and bring him to Imperial justice and in so doing, betray her native heritage. But the long sands of the Kardiastan Shiver Barrens hold many secrets and ancient powers and a separate destiny awaits her that has little to do with the honour of the Tyranian Empire.
Larke has composed a compelling tale of duty, honour and redemption set in a Byzantine empire filled with betrayal, passion and greed. There are only a few Australian writers, I believe, that can stand up against the big international ‘name’ authors. And yes, by now I have reviewed at least one book by each. So let me add Ms Larke to that illustrious, but short, list. To my mind, Larke’s self-assurance, insight and guts - much in the traditon of Robin Hobb, Carol Berg and even Elizabeth Moon - firmly places her on the list as one of the very best Australian writers of fantasy fiction.