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Mordant’s Need

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Title: Mordant’s Need – A Man Rides Through
Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
Year: 1987

A Man Rides Through is the sequel to The Mirror of Her Dreams, Stephen R. Donaldson’s Mordant’s Need, the story about Terisa, drawn from our modern world into a world of mirror, power and conspiracy. This is the last volume, which I felt I wanted to read after having been impressed by his mastery of plot shown in the Gap Cycle. At the end of the previous volume, most of the threads are still unconnected, leading me to conclude that the potential for greatness certainly was there.

I wasn’t completely mistaken. On the whole, this story is good and looking only at the plot, it’s a worthy follow-up to The Mirror of Her Dreams, which i gave four snails. Since the things I like with Donaldson stay roughly the same, I’m not going to elaborate on that now, but rather point out why I have decided to reduce the grade to a mere three.

To begin with, this book is too long. Yes, yes, I know, I always say that, but bear with me, To begin with, the story could have been written using fewer pages without any problem. More serious than that, though, is that quite a number of pages are spent on things lacking even the slightest trace of interest. Without spoiling too much, I can say that there are way, way too many and too long descriptions of battle in A Man Rides Through. Personal conflict is okay, but descriptions of pitched battles? I might have liked that when I was fourteen, but now it’s just a waste of time.

Additionally, I have a minor complaint. Donaldson uses phrases like “Oh, Geraden” or “Oh, Terisa” almost compulsively. Once I noticed this, I got more and more vexed for every time I heard it. I admit it might sound insignificant indeed, but it still annoyed me a lot.

That being said, this book isn’t bad. I have chosen to focus on the differences between this second volume and The Mirror of Her Dreams, and then it is true that the latter surpasses the former in almost every regard. However, these books have to be read together, because the story isn’t even remotely finished after the first book. Taken as a whole, I think Mordant’s Need is good, but the two books don’t even come close to the brilliance of the Gap Cycle.

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Title: Mordant’s Need – The Mirror of Her Dreams
Author: Stephen R. Donaldson
Year: 1986

It’s been ten years since I read Mordant’s Need for the first time, that time in translation to Swedish. I read my notes from that time and my opinion wasn’t very favourable. In short, I said that the book was full of good ideas, but implemented in a bad way. I was not pleased. Since then, I’ve read and liked a lot more by Donaldson and I’m 25 instead of 15. This lead me to the decision to revisit Mordant and see if my opinions from a decade ago still held true. They did not.

Mordant’s Need is the story about Terisa Morgan being pulled from her existence in our world into Mordant, a kingdom on the brink of disaster, caught between mighty enemies, and with a king who seems to have lost his sanity as well as his will to defend his people. Around the king, his followers begin to doubt their reasons for their loyalty and start making their own decisions on how to meet Mordant’s need. In this realm, mirrors work as gateways to other places and other dimensions. Terisa is translated from our world as part of an effort to save Mordant, but apparently something went wrong, because the imagers were expecting a mighty warrior, not a young, insecure woman.

I have said it many times before, but Donaldson is exceedingly good at two things: characters and plot. This book contains a number of unique characters, and although they might seem a bit exaggerated at times, they fulfill their function. The plot is intricate, but it’s hard to say how good it is before it is revealed in the second and final volume about Mordant, A Man Rides Through. However, I have faith in Donaldson’s ability to handle plots.

I have three things I would like to complain about. First, there is a serious flaw in the plot. I don’t like to spoil the reading for potential readers, so I will let it suffice to say that Donaldson portrays a number of characters that should be able to figure something out, but still fails to do this (even though it’s blatantly obvious to the reader). Second, the character of Terisa is a bit annoying. I’m sure Donaldson has written her that way on purpose, but her weakness is tiresome in the long run. Of course, she is not a static figure throughout the book, so I’m prepared to disregard this complaint. Third, the book is too long. The story isn’t at all finished after The Mirror of Her Dreams, so it’s really a question of reading both volumes or none at all. I will continue with A Man Rides Through straight away, so you will have my opinion about this book in more detail later.

These flaws still only add up to a subtraction of one snail, because this book is much, much better than I remembered. It’s not as good as the Gap Cycle (quite far from it), but it’s still interesting enough. Donaldson is a master of intelligent plots and that means a lot to me. Let’s hope he can keep the story going at this pace to the end.

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