ISBN: 9780732281984 (0732281989)
Published: HarperCollinsAustralia, April 2006
The Exaltarch rules the Tyranian Empire through force and a network of spies known as the Brotherhood. In Kardiastan, Tyrans has forced out the Magor ruling class and imposed their own leaders.
Ligea Gayed, one of the top agents of the Brotherhood, is ordered to find a Kardiastan rebel leader and bring him to justice. A straightforward enough assignment for her, but all Ligea finds is mystery upon mystery. The rebels seem able to come and go at will and any attempt to pursue them across the desert ends in disaster.
Ligea has to face her own demons and her own violent past to discover the secrets of Kardiastan…
2006 Aurealis Awards for Fantasy and Science Fiction
Shortlisted – Best Fantasy Novel
Glenda Larke has written a very enjoyable and utterly compelling story that unflinchingly probes into the psychology of a person who has been robbed of her family, her people and her culture. Ligea’s origins have been stolen from her; her heritage has been denied her – a crime that is compounded by the fact that she has been raised by the very person who has killed her family. Larke has obviously been inspired by real events, mainly the Disappeared Ones of Argentina and the Stolen Generations of Aboriginal Australia, a fact that imbues Ligea’s story with a deep-felt resonance.
Characterization constitutes the novel’s greatest strength. It is Ligea’s character that drives the plot and Larke takes the time necessary to build up Ligea’s personality as well as the events and experiences that prompt her to question herself and her values, thus making the manner in which her character evolves plausible. When it comes to characterization, Larke’s work reminds me very much of Robin Hobb. Like Hobb, Larke uses a first-person narrative and she takes the time necessary to build a quite complex character. And like Hobb, Larke is never shies away from revealing bare the less savoury aspects of the protagonist’s personality. Ligea is in many ways not very likeable. Throughout a large part of the story, she comes across as arrogant, self-centered and cruel, but as Larke slowly reveals the forces that have shaped her one can’t help to feel for her. Likewise, the experiences that cause her to change and mature as a person ring absolutely true.
Heart of the Mirage is a very strong novel that offers a multi-facetted and deeply flawed protagonist as well as a well-paced and deeply compelling story about betrayal and identity. Larke has a fluid prose that often emphasizes sensuous detail and if she sometimes veers towards the overly descriptive then this is a very minor complaint.
… those looking for a ‘sense-of-wonder’ fix need look no further. Larke doesn’t conform to the cookie-cutter school of fantasy and has a talent for world building and a fondness for unstable landscapes … It’s also great fun.
Rating: 5 out 5
I had serious difficulty in putting the book down. It’s not just the general storyline of Ligea’s changing attitudes, which is very strongly written and allows for more shades of grey than many fantasy novels do, but also a richly imagined and thoroughly believable world…
… the second book will be released in the UK in December, and the third next May. Although it’s not so long to wait, I’m not sure I can hang on that long—I might well break down and bribe some friends on the other side of the world… to send the books to me. And if that isn’t a recommendation to read these books, I don’t know what is. Highly enjoyable, this book’s got love, betrayal, skulduggery, espionage, adventure, magic, heartbreak and plenty more besides.
It is nice sometimes to break out of the typical medieval Fantasy City and go somewhere different. Larke accomplishes this by setting her tale in the equivalent of Ancient Rome and the deserts of Africa and decorates the proceedings with some stunning imagery in the process.
For those jaded with genre fantasy, Larke provides fare that is fresh, strange and intriguing.
This skillfully written world may be fantasy but the issues at its heart—political expediency, cultural imperialism and intolerance—are shamefully real… Bring on part two.
(Larke) has again managed to add a thoughtful twist to the fantasy genre. (She) provided a refreshing approach in her previous Isles of Glory trilogy, and her new release, Heart of the Mirage, continues to engage… Larke presents an examination of the ethics of imperialism and disenfranchisement. It is no accident the story is dedicated to Australia’s Stolen Generation and the Disappeared Ones of Argentina.
… full of intrigue, mystery and perhaps best of all, subterfuge, with the principle character learning to come to terms with their own heritage in a “Nature vs Nurture” battle from the very beginning… Truly memorable and a tale that has the second installment flagged for an immediate read…
Glenda Larke writes stories of real consequence, and this is no exception. Powerful, down to earth and filled with the sharpness of the true storyteller, Mirage Makers is entertainment with an edge. Count me as a true fan.
Larke has crafted 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 tradition 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 around.
On the writing: … so vivid and solid that at times it leaves me breathless or just plain green with envy.
On the main character: Ligea is fearless, bloodthirsty, vicious, sexy and determined… This character’s conflict and transformation was entirely convincing and satisfying to read.
On the world: … has aspects of Havenstar’s inventiveness, with an interactive landscape that is highly imaginative and entertaining.
Told in the first person by Ligea, this is her story from complacent oppressor to—well, you will have to read the book to find out more. For this is a real page-turner, told with the sort of storyteller style which takes the dross of bog-standard fantasy and spins it into the gold of a good yarn.
ISBN: 9781841496092 (184149609X)
Published: Little, Brown Book Group, August 2007
ISBN: 9783442267965 (344226796X)
Published: Del Rey, September 2012
ISBN: 9783641080259 (3641080258)
Published: Del Rey, September 2012