No other two-volume set of books has ever held more power over me than Mordant’s Need (The Mirror of Her Dreams; A Man Rides Through). I had never been a huge fan of fantasy before I read these two books. For those who are not familiar, Mordant’s Need is a two book series by author Stephen R. Donaldson. His other works include the Thomas Covenant novels and The Gap series.
Mordant’s Need tells the story of Teresa Morgan, a rich girl who is neglected by her parents and is living a semi-existence working for a small, penniless church. She lives in a high-rise apartment alone, her only companion a room full of mirrors which remind her that she exists. One particularly dreary day, a man, Geraden, literally falls out of one of the mirrors.He whisks her away to the land of Mordant, thinking that she is the prophesied champion he has been seeking.
Mordant is an alien country to Teresa, who finds herself not wanted by the Imagers, the magic- users of the land who have learned how to use mirrors to channel magic, and essentially dismissed by the Royal Court. Only sly Master Eremis, whose sexual charms are constantly evident, takes any interest in Teresa, aside from Geraden. Geraden is considered a failure as an apprentice by the other Imagers. He is much older than the others, is clumsy, and sometimes seemingly half-witted. He wants nothing more than to be an Imager himself.
Things are terribly wrong in Mordant. There is the constant threat of rogue Imagers, including the Arch Imager Vagel; the king of Mordant is a doddering old fool who plays checkers with the mad Imager Havelock all day; the King’s daughters are on the outs with one another, as is the Queen who has moved out of the Palace and into the countryside; andpolitical forces are vying for control of the Kingdom. Chief among these is the imager Eremis who tries increasingly harder to gain notoriety by acting heroic in moments of need. During all of this, an army begins to lay siege to the city.
Few books have stuck with me longer than these two. I was furious when Donaldson ended the first book on a major cliff hanger. I searched what seemed like forever to find the second book in the series (in the days before Amazon.com, Kindles, and even the Internet) at as many bookstores as I could reach. I finally found it, totally by accident, at a place in a nearby town. To say that I devoured the story’s conclusion would be an understatement. I tore through the pages like a whirlwind. When I finished the second book, I read the entire thing again from the beginning to find the things I missed.
I highly recommend this series to readers who enjoy politics, plotting, an interesting and exciting magical system, romance, adventure and surprises Some critics might say that the character of Teresa Morgan is a caricature of women and that she was weak and self-conscious throughout the series. I don’t see it that way at all. I see a strong woman who thought she was weak, but later proved to herself she was not what she thought. Her character constantly evolves through the plots twists and turns, and by the end, she is who she needs to be. In my book, she counts as a strong female character. If you are a fan of epic fantasy, don’t miss Mordant’s Need.
Until next time: Keep reading, and may all your stories be epic.