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Through A Brazen Mirror (Ace Fantasy Special) Mass Market Paperback – December 1, 1988

3.9 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When it first appeared in print in mass market in 1989, Sherman's (The Porcelain Dove) debut novel, a queer fantasy, won a John W. Campbell Award nomination. No wonder: Sherman's grasp of setting, language and human behavior snare the reader deeply into the story of a widowed woman's search for peace and survival. The handsome king in this tale has a taste for the strapping young men around him. The gentle maidens swoon over a quiet and romantically somber youth, who is, in fact, a woman in disguise. And the sorceress that bedevils the kingdom of Albia grows queasy at the thought of being touched by another man after her reluctant submission to the sorcerer who trained her. Is this a ribald escapade of explicit sex? Hardly. Sherman's deft touch reveals her characters' desires in a subtle yet unapologetic manner. She presents not the typical sword-and-sorcery fantasy, but a tale that takes a realistic--and captivating--look at medieval times. (Sept.) FYI: The Porcelain Dove won the 1994 Mythopoeic Award.

Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Ellen Kushner s paying jobs have included folksinger, book editor, national public radio host, writing teacher, audiobook narrator, and pilgrim at Plimoth Plantation. Her Riverside novels include "Swordspoint", "The Privilege of the Sword" (Locus Award, Nebula nominee), and "The Fall of the Kings" (written with Delia Sherman), and a growing collection of short stories. She lives in New York City with Delia Sherman, no cats, and a whole lot of airplane and theater ticket stubs she just can t bring herself to throw away. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Ace Fantasy Special
  • Mass Market Paperback: 233 pages
  • Publisher: Ace; First Edition edition (January 1, 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0441896871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0441896875
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,217,987 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a very strong, unique novel, with some wonderful characters and a realistic setting, ending, and feel throughout the story. The medieval/Renaissance aspect to the novel is perfectly, professionally done.
It took me a while to like the heroine of the tale, William/Elinor, but when her frosty, standoffish attitude finally faded into a likeable, strong protagonist, I really began to enjoy and like her character.
The young King of the tale is a gem, who starts out as a headstrong, almost ignorant young monarch and blossoms into a truly wonderful, amiable, sympathetic and attractive character. His multidimensional character glows throughout the book.
Margaret is the most tragic character of this story, and while she is definitely the villain of the tale, I couldn't help but hope she'd make it out all right. The reader really does feel for her, and sympathises with her (for lack of a better word) plight.
This is a wonderful novel with the most unique flavor, and the people who move through the tale, from protagonists to antagonists to supporting players, are all excellently crafted. The queer/gay/transgender slant to this novel is splashed all over the back cover blurbs and Publisher's Notes and Introduction, but reading the book, I didn't once think of it as a queer/gay/transgender work. It's just an excellent story whose emphasis is on the plot and the characters, and to pigeon-hole the thing into a queer work is a shame. The book is a great deal more than just that.
All in all, highly recommended!
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Format: Paperback
I can't really find anything bad to say about this book! The ballad that provides its story-line has always been a favorite of mine, and has all the elements you'd expect from such a thing -- tragedy, perseverance, mystery, magic, revenge, love... and Delia Sherman makes use of all of these, sometimes in unexpected ways. The historical details are flawless (as you would expect when the author has a PhD in Renaissance Studies), and even the magic has the feeling of alchemy and medieval grimoires and herbals, rather than the overly simplified or overly cutesey styles so prevalent in the fantasy genre. And I appreciated the author's courage in devising an ending that was not the conventional happily-ever-after scenario.
My only complaint is about the introduction to the Circlet Press edition. Don't get me wrong -- I am all for queer-themed fantasy and SF, and in fact the description in the introduction was one of the things that led me to buy the book -- but it telegraphed a bit too much about the story! I think I would have liked the introduction to be a little more vague so that I wouldn't have had the expectations about the king, and made some premature assumptions that diminished the impact of what should have been a dramatic revelation.
Other than that, I have no complaints, and I plan on loaning this book to four or five friends, by which time someone will have kept it and I'll need to buy another copy. So please, Circlet, keep it in print!
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Format: Paperback
This is the sort of book that deserves a wider audience than it's gotten so far. The author is a lesbian, and the book contains a gay character. Since mainstream publishers are still a little squeamish about such things, this book gets the label "Queer Fantasy" slapped on it, gets published by a small press, and the upshot of it is that most straight readers have never heard of the darn thing. And that's a shame. This isn't just a good "gay book", it's a good book.
_Through a Brazen Mirror_ fleshes out the ballad "The Famous Flower of Serving-Men". It is compelling from the first few pages, wherein a young man stumbles into the King's kitchens during a rainstorm. He announces he's looking for a job, proclaims his robust health, and promptly faints. But the young man, William Flower, is more than he seems; his quiet diligence causes him to rise quickly through the ranks of the castle servants, until eventually he comes to the attention of the handsome young King, who is questioning his sexuality. Meanwhile, in a mysterious tower in the woods, a sorceress has foreseen that her daughter will cause her death. Since the rules of magic forbid killing one's own blood, the sorceress instead tries to destroy everything around her daughter, releasing plagues and storms upon the land. I'll warn you right now, don't expect a "fairy-tale" happy ending; Sherman's ending is sadder but much truer to life than the ballad's original ending. But she leaves one major plot point open to imagination, softening the tragedy a bit. And everyone is a little wiser at the end.
Delia Sherman writes in a lovely style of prose, atmospheric and somewhat archaic, reminding me of the early books of Patricia McKillip, before her work became more abstract.
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By A Customer on July 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I read this book when it was first released by Ace. It's a shame it hasn't received the attention it merits. Ms. Sherman's writing is beautiful, compelling... she doesn't waste the reader's time, every perfectly chosen word matters.
Anyone looking for a GOOD book (including those who don't usually read Fantasy) will not be disappointed.
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