This book was definitely not a planned read-I was actually at my Grandparents and she mentioned that the Author lives in her lifestyle village. So I grabbed two of her books from the community library at the village to read. The description of Heart of the Mirage instantly intrigued me and I was drawn into the worlds and cultures of the book. I was not expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did!

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Title: Heart Of The Mirage
Author: Glenda Larke
Date published: March 29th 2006
Format: Paperback
Page Count: 466
My Rating57818-four-stars

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…

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it has been a while since I have read a heavy fantasy book (something ASOIAF or LOTR like) with detailed lore and histories to delve into. The complex cultures and rich histories of the Tyrans and Kardiastan was what I enjoyed most about Heart of the Mirage. Combined with the magical elements to the book and the strong main character, Ligea, it made a unique fantasy story that promises to continue into the next books in the series.

As I said, my favourite part of the book was learning about the two main nations in the world- Tyrans and Kardistan. The Tyrian Empire is very romanesque-with a strong and enforced social hierarchy starting at the Exaltarch and the high born, and ending with the peasants and slaves. Tyrans prides itself in having strong culture and knowledge, with many of the people sharing the view that all other people are uncivilized and uncultured, and therefore must be conquered and converted to their way of life. I loved the contrast between the Tyran and the Kardistan cultures, and we see our own main character Liega, a firm believer in the ideals of Tyrian life, come to question these beliefs as she learns more about not only then Kardistan culture and history, but her own.

Speaking of Ligea, her character is so well written and dynamic throughout the story. At the beginning of the book we are introduced to a determined and strong member of the Brotherhood with a talent of sensing an individuals feeling and whether they are lying or not-a great skill to have as an interrogator for an underground covert organisation. Under the guidance of her adopted father, a prominent General, she ascends the ranks within the Brotherhood, despite not only being a women but also a Kardistan native in a place that dislikes those from other lands or cultures. She believes strongly in the Tyrian way of life-in slavery and the conquest and conversion of other nations and people. While she is so steadfast in accepting this cultures and ideals, it is because she believed that it is for the better of all people to have society built in this way As she is exposed more and more to the Kardistan culture and befriends the Magor, a powerful group that have the ability to wield magic, she realises that the Tyrian way of life may not be as idealistic as she once thought. Larke writes Ligeas transformation slowly page by page, and the growth of Ligea felt genuine and fitted into the broader story perfectly.

The only negative aspect of this book was how at times events or important character decisions were rushed, to the point where certain parts of dialogue are the actions of a character seemed irrational or not fully realised. Sometimes I had to reread a passage to understand what had happened, or to find a part where a characters actions could be justified or explained. While it did not lessen my enjoyment of the book, if the characters were a little stronger and their important decisions more fleshed out, their actions would have carried more weight and made the important moments more impactful.

Overall I enjoyed my journey into Larkes fantasy world in’Heart of the Mirage.’ The cultures and political wars were combined with magic to create an interesting story that certainly was unique. I am  really intrigued in the story so far and look forward to exploring more in the second book in the series.

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