by Jeff Wheeler
Who will rise and who will fall?
What an awesome sequel! Deeper and darker than its predecessor, Mirror Gate follows Cettie Pratt, almost eighteen, and Sera Fitzempress, now sixteen, as they prepare to finish their four years at Muirwood Abbey and take their Test. Cettie is firmly still part of Minister Fitzroy’s family, although not yet adopted. Sera and her father are competitors for the position of emperor, and Kingfountain has sent a prince for the chance of a political match.
Everything is up in the air and under siege in this sequel to Storm Glass, whether it’s Cettie’s parentage and adoption, Sera’s chance at the test and being chosen as emperor, peace with Kingfountain… it’s all in contention and the politics and politicking build layer upon layer undergirded by deceit and greed. Cettie and Sera must each do their best to survive the machinations of those around them while holding onto the integrity, honor, and steadfastness of their true friends and mentors.
There are some serious twists and unexpected consequences in Mirror Gate. Sera still dreams of helping change society and demolishing the rigid codes that oppress the lower classes while she’s opposed by those who have no desire to change the status quo. But the evil forces at work are revealed as deeper, more malevolent, and older than all but a few have imagined. The self-serving politics of Sera’s narcissistic father and his cohorts plunge her and the kingdom into danger. Friends become enemies and betrayal is the order of the day. Some they have held in low esteem prove that they are more steadfast than seeming friends and beloved companions.
Some storylines are tied up, but many are not, and there are definitely new puzzles and mysteries to be solved. Unnamed characters move upon the field and those who claim familial ties use their children for their own nefarious ends. There is no end to the depths to which men and kingdoms fall. Can these two families and the kingdom survive the fallout of betrayal from within and without?
Mirror Gate is, like Storm Glass, reminiscent of a steampunk novel, but remains firmly fantasy, rather than mechanisms, there are magic stones, mysteries, and maritime vessels flung aloft. The world-building is wonderfully colorful and real, the characterizations are deep and complex, and the magical system of mysteries is, well, mysterious.
Mirror Gate is another wonderful read from Jeff Wheeler with a lot of deep, deep thoughts and insights along with twisty, gritty plots. You will leave this book satisfied and yet hungering for the next. Jeff Wheeler is a master storyteller who improves with every book he publishes. Greatly anticipating the next book! Highly recommended.
Full disclosure: I received this book as an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from the publisher through NetGalley after I had already purchased and read it independently. My opinions are my own.
Though relations between Princess Seraphin Fitzempress and her father have been strained, Sera’s royal position has remained unchallenged. Filled with self-doubt, she struggles to grasp the Mysteries—her greatest trial yet.
An education in the enigmatic magic is a necessary one, should Sera plan to rise in her station and invoke her powers during war. But the emperor’s death now leaves both Sera and her ambitious father eligible for the throne—a contest the prince regent intends to win. Even if it means an alliance with a rival empire.
Sera’s hope lies in Cettie, a waif raised in the world below, whose life has intertwined with Sera’s in the most unexpected ways. The Mysteries come easily to Cettie, and her studies have begun to yield new insight into her growing powers. But those same powers put Cettie in the path of those who would destroy her.
Now as the threat of war ignites and an insidious sickness spreads throughout the kingdom, Sera and Cettie will need to gather their courage and fight for each other’s lives…and for the future of their endangered world.