Literature / Mordant's Need
aka: The Mirror Of Her Dreams

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Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who's the ... Wait, who the hell are you?!

Mordant's Need is a fantasy duology by Stephen R. Donaldson, consisting of The Mirror of her Dreams and A Man Rides Through.

Terisa Morgan is a Shrinking Violet living in a mirror-covered condominium. Obsessed with the idea that she is vanishing and that she exists to no one, she works the toneless days away until the night she meets Geraden. He comes through one of the mirrors in her room and persuades her to accompany him back through the mirror to his world, Mordant.

Once in Mordant, Terisa realizes that she is there for a reason the mirror-wielding magicians, called Imagers, believe she is The Chosen One to bring peace to Mordant, which is about to be attacked and is slowly deteriorating under the control of a mad king. Terisa thinks they are mistaken, but she cannot go back, especially after one of the most powerful Imagers, Master Eremis, begins to notice her.

Warning: since the series is heavy on secrets, intrigue and Plot Twists, any list of tropes is going to contain heavy spoilers.

Tropes:

  • Absolute Cleavage: The first thing Terisa notices about Saddith is that she loves to show off by having most of the buttons on her blouse unbuttoned.
  • Abusive Parents: Both of Terisa's parents, but especially her father, who is described as a cold, sarcastic man.
  • Adorkable: Geraden just can't stop fumbling, stumbling and blathering nonsense, making him the polar opposite of suave, confident Eremis. However, his unmistakable good intentions and solid determination to keep trying no matter how many times he fails gives him a charm all of his own.
  • The Alcoholic: The Tor.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Elega, to Nyle.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Artagel is the best swordsman in all of Mordant, but the Monomach is better.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: The callat, the mysterious species befriended by Eremis are described as such by him.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Geraden says his brother Wester is the hottest thing on two legs, but isn't interested in women.
  • Amusing Injuries: When we meet Stead, he's recovering from some broken bones, courtesy of a cuckolded husband. What makes his injuries amusing, aside from how he got them, is the way he refuses to let them stop him from continuing his womanising ways. At one point, Terisa wakes up to find that he's climbed into bed with her. She understandably freaks out and pushes him off the bed, and he turns out to be unable to get up from the floor thanks to his injuries - and he still keeps cheerfully hitting on Terisa and trying to sell her on the idea of sleeping with him.
    • Mood Whiplash/Wham Line: Terisa is amused by his attempts until Stead matter-of-factly says she must not think of Geraden as a man, because if she did, why is she here and not in Geraden's bed? She does just that immediately after, and finally expresses her feelings for Geraden to him personally.
  • Anachronism Stew: Due to the Imagers' ability to access many worlds, at many different stages of development, a lot of anachronistic technology gets pulled into Mordant, but only in isolated examples which cannot be replicated (and advanced technologies have no way to maintain their power, so eventually run down and become useless).
  • And This Is For...: How the Tor goes out in a blaze of glory.
    A blow for his son, A blow for his Care. And now a blow for King Joyse. Then back to the beginning again. A blow for everyone he had ever loved, everyone who had ever died.
  • Apologises a Lot: Geraden. Almost anything he says in the first half of the book is followed by "sorry." Terisa puts her foot down.
    Terisa: If you apologise more than three times a day, I'm going to kick you.note 
  • The Apprentice: Geraden, one of many. In the series, apprentices are referred to as "Apts" in both Mordant and Cadwal.
  • Arc Words / Bookends: Hearing horns.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Asked by Quillon and Joyse: "Do you know who your enemies are?"
  • Arranged Marriage: Almost, between Elega and Geraden, before the events of the book. Elega put her foot down, because of Geraden's lack of drive and talent.
  • Badass Boast:
    • After Terisa gives King Joyce a well-earned What the Hell, Hero? for his plan, he replies simply, "My lady, you have not seen me fight." It is then Terisa understands why the man inspires so much Undying Loyalty.
    • After Havelock saves Geraden and Terisa from being trapped in Terisa's world, he has this winner:
      Havelock: Don't you realize yet that I'm the one who planned all this? I planned it all. Joyse is the only man alive who could have done it, but I planned it. No matter how crazy I get, I'm the best fornicating hop-board player in Orison, bar none. Remember that, for a change.
  • Bash Brothers: Argus and Ribuld. They are introduced at the beginning of the story and then treated almost as the same character. They are reasonably good at fighting, at least able to hold off Gart for some time. And the moment they're separated Argus dies.
    Ribuld: He doesn't have any family. Somebody has to bury him.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • Master Eremis seems fond of these, but they don't always succeed ...
    • Havelock and Joyse's strategy. It works spectacularly.
  • Beautiful All Along: A subversion in that everyone thinks Terisa is absolutely ravishing, but Terisa herself doesn't, and it takes not having mirrors to realize her attractiveness.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Terisa. When Terisa is cut on the cheek by Gart, Saddith later says that it'll leave a scar - but it'll only add to her beauty.
    • Likewise Myste, in the second book. She acquires a burn scar on the side of her face, but Elega thinks that "instead of marring her beauty... it had the effect of increasing her air of conviction."
  • Berserk Button:
    • Lebbick has a few - mostly dealing with his wife - and fairly violent ones (just ask Saddith. It's an Awesome Moment and Heartwarming Moment when Artagel presses a button that would normally elicit Unstoppable Rage in Lebbick but instead breaks him out of his Despair Event Horizon gently.
    • Joyse. He's able to keep up his pretense of being a doddering old fool as things get grimmer and grimmer, but when he finds out his wife, Queen Madin, is kidnapped and held hostage, the line has been crossed. He completely drops the act, and even bullied Havelock into letting him use his smoke beast to rescue her, according to the latter. Keep in mind Havelock is Joyse's closest friend and confidant.
  • Bestiality Is Depraved: High King Festten. Eremis derisively calls him a "sheepfucker" and states Festten only gets off having sex with animals.
  • Betty and Veronica: Geraden (Betty) and Eremis (Veronica), in a gender-flipped example. Geraden is a loveable, innocent man who trips constantly, has an infectuous smile, and is treated as an "amateur" by many. Eremis is The Casanova, and, while not handsome like Geraden, has no trouble with women. He oozes sexiness, power, and dominance. Fortunately for Geraden, Eremis is also the Big Bad who has been trying to have sex with Terisa before killing her for the entire book. "Betty" is victorious.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Master Eremis and High King Festten. It's implied that if they had won, Eremis would have eventually managed to remove or gain control over Festten, but during the events of the book they are in practice equal partners, albeit ones that both seem to think that they are (or at least should be) the one in charge. Festten is no fool, as Vagel states that he and Gart are there to make sure Eremis doesn't get any funny ideas.
  • Big Beautiful Woman: The Domne's daughter-in-law, who is a down-to-earth mother.
  • Big Breast Pride: Saddith, full stop. Terisa is an aversion; while she has the assets, she isn't cognizant of them, even when Saddith flat out tells her she's well-endowed.
  • Big Brother Worship: Artagel gets this a lot from Geraden, and also Nyle.
  • Big Labyrinthine Building: The castle, Orison, with its secret passageways, dead ends, and misshaped architecture.
  • Black Sheep: Nyle. Instead of being loyal to the King like the rest of the Domne's sons, he chooses to plot insurrection. Both Artagel and Geraden are furious when they find out.
  • Blue Eyes: Much is made of King Joyce's blue eyes. When he is playing the doddering old fool, they're watery and dull, but still a deep blue. When he drops the act, they become piercing and vibrantly blue.
  • Bookcase Passage: In a non-bookcase example, the secret passage in the Peacock Room. It's used at different times by Terisa, Master Quillon, Gart, and Adept Havelock. Castellan Lebbick knows about it and attempts to use it to prove Terisa is conspiring against the king. Saddith knows about it as well, and tells Master Eremis, who then tells Gart.
  • Boring but Practical: The Congery's main contribution to the war ends up being... a number of flat mirrors focused on a hall in Orison, from which they translate the army's supplies and equipment every evening when setting camp and to which they send it all back each morning, essentially supplying an army-sized Bag of Holding. Compared to the flamboyant summonings of monsters and molten lava that Imagery has traditionally been used for, it's not especially sexy, but it lets the army march much faster than it otherwise could have and thus reach Festten's position before he's ready.
  • Break the Cutie: Geraden. He starts deteriorating with Artagel's near-death experience and keeps sliding ... and sliding ... and sliding ... until you think he has nothing left to lose. Then Nyle dies and the shit hits the fan.
  • Breaking Speech: Fails spectacularly when Artagel tries this on the High King's Monomach. He only manages to press the Berserk Button of The Stoic, which makes him even more deadly. However, it does give Nyle time to sneak up on him and stab him in the armpit, the only vulnerable spot between armor plates, to kill him.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: Artagel. He is the best swordsman in all of Mordant, among other things, but he never rises in the ranks of the army.
  • Brown Eyes: Terisa and Geraden.
  • Brutal Honesty: Terisa does this to Nyle, saying everything he did, betraying everyone he loved, was a complete Senseless Sacrifice. It almost destroys him, but it also allows him to understand that the people he did it for were complete liars.
  • Buxom Is Better: Saddith definitely believes this. It's downplayed regarding Terisa, but Saddith constantly notes Terisa's... assets rival anyone in the kingdom, and while she and Myste are the same size, Myst's dresses don't account for them.
  • The Caligula: High King Fessten, though it's only mentioned by other characters and not actually seen.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Elega does this a few times to Joyse, and not without reason.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: On the other hand, Terisa is a really bad liar. Ironically, when Elega knows Terisa's lying, it makes her happy, because lying is being proactive.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Vagel. Eremis when he drops his act.
  • Chekhov's Hobby: For both Myste and Elega, it is exploring the secret passages throughout Orison. Elega uses this to hide from the Tor's men and the Castellan and also poison the water supply; Myste uses it to escape Orison and chase after the "Champion."
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Geraden's constant clumsiness. It may inconvenience him throughout the book, but it has also taught him how to recover quickly, and that makes all the difference when he attacks Nyle.
    • For Terisa, knowing how to play hop-board. It aids her in playing Prince Kragen to a stalemate and therefore saving him face.
  • The Chessmaster: Havelock, even while insane. Joyce heavily relies on him because, as Havelock says, Joyce tries to protect his checkers hopboard pieces, while Havelock is willing to sacrifice them.
  • The Chosen One:
    • The first book is dominated by uncertainty over just who is this trope. Genre Savvy readers can guess that it is either Geraden or Terisa or both, but many characters have their hopes set on "the Champion," a futuristic warrior seen in the augary who the Congery eventually summons to Mordant. In the end it turns out that the trope is subverted; Terisa, Geraden, the Congery's Champion and nearly a dozen other characters all have vital parts to play in saving the kingdom.
    • Played straight with Joyse in the backstory, thanks to Havelock's augury which tells him that he will be the one to turn Mordant from a bunch of provinces that are the playthings of Alend and Cadwal into a united nation - and will unite the Congery. It turns out that he's still not quite done, either.
  • Clairvoyance: Someone's future can be foretold by using a mirror on them then shattering it - each of the shards will show a scene from the future, though a few have no context. Havelock did this with an infant Joyce. It nearly killed Joyce, but thanks to what Havelock did, he knows that Myste will fall for the Champion, Elega will run to Kragen, and someone will try a power play on the throne.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Myste, with her romantic notions.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Prince Kragen threatens King Joyse's envoy Master Quillon with this if he doesn't reveal the King's plans, though he doesn't go through with it. Regardless, Elega is not pleased. Lebbick and Eremis both want to submit Terisa to this treatment at different times in the story, but in neither case is their motivations exactly "cold-blooded."
  • Complexity Addiction:
    • Eremis, of sorts. When one of his plans fails, or new obstacles arise, he doesn't pout or get angry. Rather, he gets pleased because he loves a Worthy Opponent and being able to overcome something new just shows how great he is.
    • Averted by Artagel and Minnick. Heck, the latter deconstructs the trope by chuckling that everyone else makes a big deal out of little things, when, really, everything is simple when you really think about it.
      Minnick: You were in the room with the Domne, and now he's taking a nap. He trusts you. So you must be all right. You aren't the reason Geraden's unhappy.
      Terisa: It's probably more complicated than that. Sometimes I think I am the reason he's unhappy - sort of. I have to do with a lot of things that hurt him.
      Minnick: No. It isn't complicated. You're like him. He always thinks things are complicated. But they aren't. Important things are simple. He needs somebody to love him. That's simple. The Domne trusts you. That's simple. So now I can be glad to meet you, when I wasn't sure before.
    • King Joyse also averted it when creating the Congery. Quillon says Joyse didn't create the Congery for research or any other higher intellectual goals. Imagers were hurting people and Joyse wanted them to stop.
  • Composite Character: Stead is described as Geraden doing his best Eremis impression and half-succeeding.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Hoo, boy, lots of this.
    • Terisa has to choose between Geraden and Eremis, and Eremis even tries to get her to distrust and/or spy on Geraden because he's an evil bastard.
    • Nyle choosing between serving the King like his father and brothers, or betraying them to Alend for his love, Elega. Unfortunately for him, he chooses the latter and ends up being stabbed.
    • Geraden's choice is the King's orders ... or Terisa.
  • The Corruptible: Gilbur.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Geraden. Subverted with Eremis who recognizes Geraden's talent and constantly keeps him from learning his own power.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One noticeable effect of Terisa's growing self-confidence is that she starts making more and more sarcastic remarks as the story goes on, first just in her head, then out loud.
  • Death by Sex: Eremis' plan is to kill Terisa after having sex with her. Fortunately, Geraden keeps interrupting.
  • Death Seeker: Lebbick. He actually fights Gart to a standstill because he abandons restraint, not caring if he gets killed or not.
  • Declaration of Protection: Geraden, to the point of assigning two guards illegally to watch over her, and then, after that, his brother Artagel.
  • Depraved Homosexual: Gilbur. Vagel even mentions that Gilbur tends kill his sex partners rape victims, which Gilbur refers to as "male meat".
  • Description in the Mirror: Used rather neatly to show both Terisa's appearance and a large part of her characterisation.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Of all the characters in the book, the Tor gets it worst, and is reduced to a mass of blubbery flesh that gorges on wine.
  • Determinator: Geraden. When he sets his mind on something, he never gives up. A prime example is trying to become a full-fledged Imager. He's the longest serving Apt (which is an embarrassment) who is looked down on by everyone. Despite Eremis' attempts to humiliate him into quitting, he never does.
  • Didn't Think This Through: What did the Congery expect when they pulled a Space Marine out from the middle of a battle without asking him? Eremis knew very well what would happen, which is why he encouraged it.
  • The Ditherer: A few characters respond to the lack of easy answers within the story by becoming this.
    • Master Barsonage, the head of the Congery. He gets better.
    • The Armigite has this as his defining trait. Despite being the ruler of a Care, he complains that he "doesn't like decisions," and the only thing he asks of the Alend army in return for letting them pass through his land unhindered is that he be allowed to remain in blissful ignorance of what's going on.
  • The Dragon: The Monomach, who is a Legacy Character, and Arch-Imager Vagel for High King Festten. In the present day, Gilbur and Vagel are both Eremis' Dragons. Oddly, none of the Dragon's are a Dragon with an Agenda.
  • The Dreaded: Everyone, repeat, everyone is scared of the High King's Monomach.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Everything Terisa dreams about comes true, sort of. They come true but they're different in many ways.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Several characters feel the need to do this at times.
    • The Tor, especially after it seemed like Joyse allowed Lebbick the freedom to rape and kill Terisa. He gets better. Sort of.
    • After an especially demoralising day, Terisa goes back to her room and "gets more drunk than ever before in her life."
    • Geraden admits to having resorted to this on occasion when he felt especially tired of failing at everything.
  • Easily Forgiven: Terisa admits to King Joyse she blabbed his pretending to be weak to Eremis, potentially totally wrecking his and Havelock's plans. He merely replies, "My lady, you were provoked." Justified, in that he's been a Manipulative Bastard and can't expect his Batman Gambit to go super-smooth.
  • Enemy Mine / Fantastic Racism: The Termigan despises Imagers and Alends. He only joins the final battle because he sees Kragen, the Alend Contender, fighting with Mordant's army. Joyce is told Termigan trusts his enemy more than he trusted his King.
  • Enfant Terrible / Self-Made Orphan: Eremis. You know that gigantic Sand Worm he summons at the end of the second book? He first summoned it at age ten. He also deliberately killed his family by creating a house fire.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep" / Spell My Name with a "The": The leaders of each of Mordant's provinces are known by the name of their region, ie. The Tor, The Perdon, The Domne, etc.
  • Extreme Doormat: Terisa's mother, which Terisa inherited.
  • The Extremist Was Right: King Joyse united Mordant through brute force in his youth, and then used absolutely any means necessary to force every Imager in the known world into the Congery, including things like taking their families hostage. As a result, a world that had been at constant war for generations has now been peaceful for decades. King Joyse turns out to still be both an extremist and right in his old age - his convoluted plan to draw out and defeat Eremis and High King Festten brings suffering and death to countless innocents, but in the end it succeeds in defeating Eremis' bid for world domination.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Alend is reminiscent of Turkey and Cadwal is reminiscent of Arabic culture.
  • Fantasy World Map: Subverted. A distinct lack of one, actually. Justified in that the story is told through the eyes of Terisa, and when names of places are thrown at her, the reader is as confused as she is.
  • Fate Worse Than Death: When Geraden and Terisa enter a deserted village, they find a pile of burnt corpses. Geraden guesses they're the ones who didn't get away. Terisa replies they might be the ones who did get away. Geraden's less than pleased at this idea.
  • Feminist Fantasy: Word of God is that the series was meant as this, hence Terisa's arc of going from a non-entity entirely under her father's thumb to playing an active role in a cause she believes in, all three of King Joyse's daughters going against tradition by involving themselves in events, and the constant theme of how different men treat women. Some readers did not think much of the effort, citing the relative scarcity of female characters compared to male ones, that fully half of the ones that do play major roles are morally ambiguous at best, and the fact that women are constantly being threatened with (or subjected to) rape, torture and other abuses to an extent that some might call excessive.note  And we should probably leave it at that.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Averted. Terisa is plenty feminine, but her kitchen in New York is described as "immaculate" (read: never used) and when she travels with Geraden, he does all the cooking.
  • First Girl Wins: Or First Guy Wins in this case, played completely straight.
  • Five-Bad Band:
  • Foil: Much is made of the fact Myste is the daylight version of Elega, and Elega is the night version of Myste.
  • For the Evulz: Eremis has fun being evil.
  • Foreign Queasine: Geraden buys Terisa a snack at the market that he says is a delicacy in Domne. Terisa takes one bite and then has to struggle to avoid letting him see how disgusting she finds it.
  • Foreshadowing: The Tor tells Eremis he will die a "fool's death". The latter ends up dying standing up naked with a full erection.
  • Gambit Pileup:
    • At first the book looks like this, both to Terisa and the reader. However by the end it's pretty clear there's only three factions. Neatly pointed out by Terisa to Master Quillion in quite a touching moment. When Quillion asks Terisa why she didn't tell anyone about Gart trying to kill her again Terisa asks, quite fairly, who Quillion expects her to trust.
    • The Tor is the wild card, behaving in a way even Joyce didn't expect, which both infuriates and warms him.
      Joyse: He is one of the few mummers in this masque who defies prediction.note 
  • Gold Digger: Saddit is sleeping her way to the top. She craves power more than money, however.
  • Good Bad Girl: Saddith is an ambiguous example. Terisa isn't sure what to think about her loose (not to say mercenary) sexual morals, and Geraden is actively repulsed by her offer to sleep with him so he'll have some experience for when he finally gets Terisa into bed, but she's also friendly, funny and cheerful, and Terisa mentions finding her presence reassuring. However, she is also Eremis' agent, but isn't aware that she'd helping him do anything particularly sinister - as far as she knows, she's just helping an ambitious but not treacherous Imager rise in the ranks in return for him getting her closer to her own ambitions. She seems genuinely regretful the one time she feels that she's failed Terisa.
  • The Good Chancellor: The Tor appoints himself as one, without Joyse's permission. Thanks to everyone in Orison having the highest respect for him, he's accepted. It comes in handy when Joyse goes to save his wife - the Tor is already in place to keep everything in control in his absence.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: We don't get any details of what Terisa and Geraden get up to, but it seems to be fairly vanilla while still being mutually enjoyable. Their enemies, meanwhile, include a sexual sadist, a homosexual rapist and a man who has sex with animals.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Havelock says "fornicating" instead of "fucking", Darsint says "God-rotting" instead of "Goddamn", and so on. The villains avert the trope, and don't mind traditional cursing.
  • Groin Attack: Terisa does this once to Eremis. It succeeds in making him less trusting. Played for Laughs by Argus.
    Argus: I'm dying! Bastard unmanned me!
    Ribuld: Won't change your life.
  • Guttural Growler: Lebbick, but his bite is still far worse than his bark.
  • Handwave: When Terisa asks how they deal with natural mirrors and reflections (such as water or in each other's eyes), Joyce merely says they avoid trying to find them.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Geraden and Terisa certainly qualifies.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The Tor. In a tearjerking scene, he asks for a horse and some weapons to make one last charge. Fortunately, it's not a senseless one.
  • Hidden Depths: Invoked by Marganol, who picks Nyle as his new Contender because he sees things in Nyle no one else can see.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • The fire cat is killed by having dung thrown on it. The dung ignites and burns the fire cat to death.
    • Imager Eremis sees himself in a flat mirror. Which also means that he, a shameless narcissist, suffers the fate of the mythical Narcissus - being lost in his own reflection.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: Several characters used to be a lot more impressive in the backstory than they are today.
    • Arch-Imager Vagel was once the most powerful Imager in the world and arch-enemy of King Joyse during the founding of Mordant, and at the start of the series many believe that he's the mastermind behind the recent troubles. Once he actually appears, it turns out that he's a wreck, passively serving the real mastermind Eremis in the dreary hope that by doing so he'll at least get to see the people who brought him low fall. In the end even his final defeat is anticlimactic. While Gilbur goes down fighting and Eremis gets satisfyingly Hoist by His Own Petard, Vagel is last seen fleeing in panic from a crazy old man, who then kills him off screen by impaling him on a tree branch.
    • Adept Havelock used to be the Merlin to Joyse's King Arthur. His last confrontation with Vagel left him a babbling lunatic, albeit with a few, rare flashes of the man he used to be.
    • King Joyse himself changed the world in his youth, stopping the warfare between two great empires and turning Imagery from a weapon of war to something that could be peacefully studied. These days, he can barely be roused from the hopboard table and reminded that he's still got a kingdom to run. Subverted. Joyce is only pretending to have fallen.
  • Humanoid Alien: Darsint. His voice is odd, but he looks like a big man. Myste comments he's human-like in every place that counts.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Oh, Saddith knows how to use this to her advantage, and even lectures Terisa on it. After Lebbick beats her up and disfigures her, she bares her maimed breasts to a crowd to highlight what he did.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Terisa ends up in this situation a lot.
    • First to Lebbick, at the end of the first book. It's very ambiguous whether he wants to rape her or torture her, and at that point he probably isn't sure himself, but whatever it is, he's really looking forward to it.
    • Eremis also takes Terisa captive on no less than two occasions in the second book and makes it very plain what he means to do to her each time.
  • I Shall Taunt You
    • Eremis loves doing this. It's hinted he gets sexually aroused from taunting his victims.
    • Joyce does this gloriously to Festten. He even says he's always wanted to laugh in Festten's face - and he does it without actually laughing.
      Festten: I will exterminate you and all you have ever loved as easily as I exterminate rats!
      Joyse: (to Prince Kragen) Come, my Lord Prince. This discussion is pointless. The High King insists on jesting with us. In all the world, no one has ever succeeded in exterminating rats.
  • If You Ever Hurt Her: An unusual version. Geraden's homebody brother Minnick tells him that if he ever mistreats Terisa, he won't be welcome in Minnick's house ever again. Keep in mind the Domne's sons are extremely loyal to each other. This is because Terisa allowed Minnick to give her the full tour of the Domne and never once rushed him or cut him off - and even gave him a peck on the cheek for doing so.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Havelock comes after Vagel with a feather duster. Later, in an Offscreen Moment of Awesome, he's killed him by impaling him with a tree branch.
    Havelock: (hee hee) I'm coming, Vagel. I'm coming!
  • Instant Messenger Pigeon: Used between Prince Kragen and his father. Averted in that Terisa desperately lectures Castellan Lebbick on the one-way usage of such birds.
  • It's All My Fault: Darsint marvels at Joyce's plan. He remarks he'd never think to make himself a target to save his men, and maybe that's why he lost his crew on Pythas, because he wasn't able to.
  • Jerk Ass Has A Point: The Termigan tells Terisa that any Imager will inevitably start to think that he is better than others, simply because he can do more. He is clearly wrong about most Imagers, who behave more like fussy academics than the sort of Nietzsche Wannabes he sees them as... but towards the end of the series, the Imager Big Bad turns out to justify his actions in exactly that way: if he can do a thing, then as far as he's concerned he has an inherent right to do it.
  • Kavorka Man: Eremis is described as being balding and not at all conventionally handsome, but also as just having something about him that makes that irrelevant.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: As Terisa finds out the hard way ...
  • Kill It Through Its Stomach: How Darsint kills the gigantic Sand Worm.
  • Kiss of Death: Lebbick gives a passionless kiss to Terisa. He's conflicted by how sexually attractive she is and how he wants to honor his dead wife. The conflict drives him to murderous rage.
  • The Klutz: Geraden, in spades. Imagers are scared of him being around their mirrors because he will break them if given a chance. When Geraden stop being Mr. Apologises a Lot and gains confidence, his klutziness ends and becomes the exact opposite.
  • Knife Nut: Gilbur. He always has an ugly curved dagger at the ready.
  • Legacy Character: Gart is from a long line of Monomachs.
  • The Mad Hatter: Adept Havelock. He went insane after following Arch-Imager Vagel through a flat glass, and now spends his days playing checkers hop-board and talking about sex.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: A strong point of the series, the rules of "imagery" are well defined, interesting and major elements of the plot. Essentially mirrors in Mordant's world don't show whats in front of them but rather show what's happening at a specific point in the same world (if they're flat) or another world (if they're curved). Only someone born with the talent for Imagery can craft a mirror - if a regular person tries, the work will somehow fail - and even they have no way of knowing what Image will appear in a mirror until it is completed, unless they are making an exact copy of an already existing mirror. Once a mirror is completed, the Imager who made it (and only that Imager) can step into it, teleporting themselves to the location shown, or teleport a creature or object visible in the mirror to where they are. Working with flat glass carries two dangers: stepping through a flat glass sends you mad, and should you happen to look in a flat mirror focused on where you're standing and thereby see yourself in the mirror your mind is permanently erased of everything, meaning you are for all intents and purposes dead. These rules apply to most Imagers, but some Imagers have specialised talents or skills (it's often unclear which) that lets them ignore certain ones:
    • An Adept is an Imager who can use any mirror, not just ones he has created himself.
    • An Arch-Imager is someone who can walk through flat glass without going mad. Though this has few useful applications beyond providing a great emergency escape route, it's still considered the absolute most difficult thing you can do with Imagery, making it Awesome, but Impractical.
    • It turns out that Geraden can not only use any curved mirror, making him a partial Adept, but also change the Image in a curved mirror, including changing it to the Image of a place in the same world. Notably, it turns out that translation through a curved mirror does not cause madness even when the Image in that mirror is of such a place, making this talent able to duplicate the abilities of an Arch-Imager.
    • It further turns out that Terisa can use any flat mirror and change the Image in it in the same way as Geraden can with curved ones, and also sense when she is currently within the Image of a flat mirror, as well as being able to pass through flat glass without going insane in the manner of an Arch-Imager. She can also sense when something is being translated via mirror to her location.
    • Late in the series, Vagel turns out to be capable of choosing before creating a mirror what its Image will be, effectively being able to custom-make mirrors according to need.
    • Gilbur has the Boring but Practical ability to create mirrors really fast.
    • Eremis knows a way of translating himself or others through a flat glass without causing madness, though this is explicitly said to be a learned technique note , not an inherent talent.
  • Magic Knight: They don't get many opportunities to show it, but Eremis and Gilbur are both this. In addition to both being Imagers, Eremis is very good with a sword, and Gilbur is extremely strong and dangerous despite his deformities.
  • Magic Mirror: Geraden believes that Terisa is The Chosen One because she keeps a houseful of mirrors that show her own image and hasn't been harmed.
  • Medieval European Fantasy: Kinda, sorta. There's a lot of Schizo Tech involved, too.
  • Men Are Strong, Women Are Pretty: Played with in the series, especially with Terisa. Gets subverted in many ways by the end.
  • Mother Russia Makes You Strong: According to Geraden, most of Cadwal "is ragged rocks and desert, and regions with water also have the kind of winds that tear your skin off your bones" which has bred a "strong and cruel" people. He goes on to say that because of this harsh climate, even "the men who fail as the High King's Monomach's Apts are so strong that Carmag is built on their bones."
  • Mr. Fanservice: According to Geraden, his brother Wester.
  • Mundane Utility: Traditionally, Imagery has been used almost exclusively in the following way: one, create a glass with an Image of something horrible in it. Two, aim the glass at your enemies and translate the horrible thing right into their laps. The stated purpose of the Congery is to find non-destructive uses of Imagery. Over the course of the story, a few such uses are in fact employed - see Boring but Practical for an example.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: "A touch of cold as thin as a feather and as sharp as steel."
  • Neutral Female: Terisa is both a straight example but later uses her passivity as a weapon, highlighted when she tricks Eremis into seeing his own reflection in a mirror.
  • Nice Guy / Nice Girl: Despite the dark tone of the story, they exist.
    • Oh, Geraden ... Unfortunately, he begins a very dramatic downwards slide after his brother Artagel is injured, and the subsequent plots around Nyle that begin to pop up.
    • Terisa, too, is a remarkably nice person. She makes mistakes, but there is absolutely no malice in her even towards people who she has every reason to hate, and she always seems thrilled when she can do something nice for someone.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Terisa tells Eremis that Joyse is pretending to be feeble. Thanks to that leak, Eremis alters his plot with that info in mind.
  • No Sense of Humor: Joyce, according to The Domne. However, he notes, that Joyce has a great sense of joy.
  • Not So Different: After Terisa describes his father as being controlling and his wife being an Extreme Doormat, The Domne remarks Terisa's already met High King Festten.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Subverted. Havelock is insane in that he can't communicate lucidly anymore save some brief periods. However, he's still The Chessmaster and is able to keep to his plan and react.
  • Oh Crap!: The only swear Terisa begins to use is "Oh shit." She later mutters to herself that she really ought to learn a new swear when it starts achieving Catch Phrase status.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Havelock when he's lucid. Just don't ask him any questions.
  • Our Ghouls Are Creepier: Green, child-like creatures that absorb every living being they touch and multiply by splitting themselves like bacteria.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Shambling corpses full of flesh-eating cockroaches.
  • Outside-Context Problem: What makes Imagery so dangerous. It can bring things into the world that the people of Mordant have very limited ability to deal with (what exactly do you do against a cat the size of a horse that incinerates everything it touches, including the arrows you try to shoot at it?). Geraden's theory to why most creatures to come out of mirrors is so dangerous is that their being Outside-Context creates their Villainy - they can't help but be harmful to the environment around them, because it's an environment that they're not meant to be in.
  • Perpetual Smiler: Artagel always smiles in combat, even when he's losing. Terisa notes in the second book that his overeagerness might be another form of suicide.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • Terisa is given a long, lengthy tour of Domne by Minnick. She realizes she can either spend the entire day looking at the area, or cut it short. She chooses the former, which pleases Minnick immensely. The peck on the cheek she gives him after pleases him even more.
    • When Havelock gets Terisa and Geraden back from Terisa's world, she's so happy she kisses him, too. Havelock is so pleased he can withstand a question from Geraden, which would usually snap him out of lucidity.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Terisa, all the way.
  • The Pollyanna: Played with when it comes to Myste. She seems to be one of these, always defending Joyse, saying he must have a reason for acting the way he does. This outlook shatters, though, when Joyse forces Kragen to play hop-board with Terisa, though she never shows it outwardly. However, she decides she can no longer be a Neutral Female and makes up her mind to find the Champion, even though it's almost certainly suicidal in a few ways. Overlaps with Good Is Not Soft.
  • The Power of Trust: When Terisa demands Havelock tell her what he wants, he replies, "Trust me." Later, Geraden shifts an Image from a curved mirror remotely while trapped in Terisa's world, and calls out, "Havelock, we trust you!" Guess who saves the day?
  • Rape as Drama: It's a Donaldson story, what do you expect? Notable in that both Terisa and Geraden's brother Nyle are threatened by it.
  • Reality Ensues: Terisa notes that while the evil Imagers can send horrors upon horrors on Orison and other Cares, it won't matter because rule requires manpower. Therefore, they're stuck til the enemy army arrives.
  • Really Gets Around: Saddith and Eremis.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses:
    • Averted. All the female characters wear Gorgeous Period Dresses most of the time and are overall pretty feminine, but that doesn't stop them from keeping cool heads and getting things done. Subverted in that the women in Orison also aren't stupid - even the royalty own heavy wool dresses for winter which are are plain and highly functional.
    • The tailor is disgustedly doubtful of duplicating Terisa's jeans, but Terisa coos women from her world find them "delectable".
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Given by both Eremis and Nyle. Eremis' speech has to do with convincing Terisa that Geraden and Gilbur have been plotting together all along and is effectively an attempt to get her on his side. Nyle's speech is given to Geraden as to why he is betraying the king instead of aiding him like all his other brothers. Both times, the recipients of such speeches are unmoved.
  • Rebellious Princess:
    • Elega. Especially since it turns out she's been plotting against King Joyse the entire time with Prince Kragen and Nyle.
    • But also Myste, when she goes after the Champion and attempts to reason with him.
  • Required Secondary Powers: A mirror can move you between worlds. It also quite helpfully alters you to be able to breathe the local air and speak the local language as you pass through it.
  • Revenge Before Reason:
    • Artagel wants a third go-around with Gart, the High King's Monomach. Everyone thinks it's a bad idea. They're right.
    • Vagel as well. Terisa notes that he's basically being humiliated by a lesser Imager (Eremis), but he retorts he doesn't care so long as Joyse is destroyed.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: The Perdon's fate, as a good man trying to help his King by betraying him is murdered along with all his men by the bad guys.
  • Royal Blood: Played straight with Elega, Torrent, and Myste. Subverted in Alend, where heirs - and not necessarily the king's sons - have to fight over who gains the throne. This provides the (innocent) reason why Prince Kragen arrives in Orison.
  • Running Gag: A rare instance where it's an In-Universe one to the characters: the Coitus Interruptus of Eremis and Terisa by Geraden. He claims that he thinks Terisa is in danger with Eremis. Saddith mocks him for that feeling. He's right.
  • Safety in Indifference: Terisa developed her 'fading' as protection from her emotionally abusive parents, and is now sometimes able to invoke it at will, however other times it occurs spontaneously (hence why her apartment is full of mirrors - to prove she still exists when it comes over her). Unfortunately for her, Joyse knows she's important somehow and forces her to "declare herself", even letting Lebbick have her for interrogation (though he had Quillon save her before he could actually rape and/or kill her.)
  • Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: Eremis and other like-minded Imagers. Eremis is offended by Joyse's idea that Imagers shouldn't pluck living beings from their world without getting permission. It's the reason why he promotes the idea that things translated from mirrors are created by Imagers, and don't have any prior existence. When Terisa notes that the callat have a history and culture before Eremis discovered them; therefore they couldn't have been created by the Mirror. Eremis chuckles and says no sane person should believe Images had no existence before being translated. He goes on to say that it doesn't matter. Imagers don't need to ask - they should be The Unfettered.
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • Kragen fails one when he doesn't refuse playing hop-board with Terisa. Joyse stated that had Kragen called him out on his bullshit, Joyse would have been assured he was genuinely seeking an alliance with him. However, Kragen did want an alliance, but decided that he'd ally himself with Elega, who planned to be Regent after deposing her father.
    • When Joyse returns from saving his wife, he begins to make patently ridiculous but still plausible accusations aimed at Kragen, including saying he's in league with High King Festten. It's then that Elega reveals herself and starts a combination of What the Hell, Hero? and "The Reason You Suck" Speech at him in defense of Kragen. Joyse then laughs heartily and apologizes, saying if Kragen had any intent of betrayal, he would not have brought Elega along. It was an honest act.
  • Skyward Scream: When Tor brings his eldest son, who is dead and badly mutilated, to Joyce, the latter lets out one, and it looks like he'll finally take action, til Havelock reminds him he has to play hop-board. We later learn that Havelock is reminding Joyce there is a plan and to stick with it, and that Joyce's biggest weakness is that he must protect his loved ones, no matter the cost.
  • Sleeps with Everyone but You: In a rare male example, Eremis is this to Terisa. She dreams about him and even dresses up in her sexiest gown and goes to his room, but finds him having sex with Saddith.
  • Snow Means Death: An interesting inversion on this trope. When Terisa arrives in Mordant, it's near the end of winter. All of its inhabitants are hoping for a late snowmelt, because the longer that the snow is on the ground, the harder it is for Alend and Cadwal to use the roads to attack Mordant.
  • Space Marine: The Champion
  • Super Soldier: The High King's Monomach, Gart. He is the most skilled swordsman there is out there, and his Apts are no less deadly. For Mordant, this exists in the form of Artagel, Geraden's eldest brother, although he's not as good as Gart, as revealed when they meet twice and both times Artagel is defeated.
  • Thicker Than Water: played straight with Artagel guarding Terisa for Geraden's sake and almost dying for it. Also with Nyle, when he comes back to save Geraden and Terisa from the strange monsters. Inverted with Terisa's parents being completely loveless and Elega betraying her father for Prince Kragen.
  • Title Drop / Shout-Out: The poem from John Meyers Meyer's Silverlock kinda, sorta name drops the titles of both books.
    Steeped in the vacuum of her dreams,
    A mirror's empty till
    A man rides through it.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • When Terisa returns briefly to her world, she's shocked that her former employer, a Mission for the Poor Reverend, actually stood up to her father and had him auction her apartment. It gives her no shortage of joy and pride in him.
    • Master Barsonage, when he stops being The Ditherer and finally gets The Congery to stop being an infighting mess and gives them focus.
  • Tragic Keepsake / Take Up My Sword: Of the Heterosexual Life-Partners sort. When being asked to keep Orison under control, Artegel demands Lebbick's bloodied helmet and armor. The more blood, the better, because he wants the populace to know who and what he stands for.
  • Translator Microbes: The possible existence of this trope is discussed. Terisa perceives people in Mordant as speaking English, but Geraden says it's possible that translation through a glass makes you fluent in the language of the world you enter. He compares it to the fact that all translated creatures can somehow breathe Mordant's air, too.
  • Triang Relations: Type 7, with Terisa as A, and Geraden and Eremis as B and C.
  • Trickster Mentor: Adept Havelock, being a blend between this and a Mad Scientist.
  • Uncatty Resemblance: Everyone thinks Master Quillon resembles a rabbit, including Gilbur when he kills him.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Joyce was so popular that even in his profoundly senile state, the Tor, Myste, Geraden and Lebbick support him, thick and thin, as does The Fayle, since he's the Queen's father.
    • Geraden's brothers. Eremis asks Artagel why he doesn't trust him. Artagel's response is simple: because Geraden doesn't.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Averted by Eremis. Everything he does in the books are to try to keep Geraden and Terisa from discovering their true power. He never underestimates anyone, save Lebbick, of all people. If anyone is underestimating Geraden and Terisa, it's Geraden and Terisa themselves.
  • The Unfavorite:
    • Eremis — although he's able to work around it with his wits — and Nyle.
    • No one seems to like The Armigite. His fate at the end? No one will acknowledge him anymore - he's not worth spending breath on.
  • The Unfettered: The Big Bad is this, and very proud of his refusal to accept no moral restrictions on his behaviour whatsoever. You could make a case for King Joyse being a benign example, being willing to use absolutely any means at his disposal to pursue what he sees as the greater good.
  • Unholy Matrimony: Elega and Prince Kragen are a pair of scheming bastards, but they seem to genuinely love each other. They also join the heroes in time for the final battle, and end the story on good terms with them.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Lebbick, making him scarier than anyone in the book.
  • Up to Eleven: Terisa notes that all of The Domne's sons, including Geraden, take their traits to the extreme. Minnick is an obsessive homebody and farmer, Artagel is a Lovable Rogue and Swashbuckler extraordinaire, Stead is an extreme Lovable Sex Maniac, and so on.
  • The Vamp: Saddith. She sleeps with men to rise in social position.
  • Verbal Weakness: Questions of any kind undermine Havelock's brief and tenuous periods of lucidity. Terisa has to learn to avoid asking questions when trying to talk to him during these periods, lest a carelessly-asked question send him back into babbling lunacy while he's trying to communicate important information.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Eremis is the most popular Imager in the Congery (even Terisa initially thinks he's the leader, not Barsonage.) After he feeds the populace with fresh water after the reservoir was poisoned byElega and Nyle, his stature is never higher. This annoys Lebbick to no end.
  • Walking Disaster Area: Geraden. Goes hand-in-hand with being The Klutz.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Nyle and Elega.
    • According to The Domne, Joyse. He noted that there was a fine line between being a crusader and a tyrant, and it was his job to give Joyse perspective. This is why he refused to give Joyse any men to fight for him; he told Joyse he needed every man to help with his sheep who were foaling at the moment, reminding him that life goes on and that he needs to know what end his means are aiming for.
  • Wham Line: When Terisa tells Havelock to tell her what Joyse saw in the augury about Elega, he replies, "Spreading her legs for Prince Kragen." She then realizes Joyse is Obfuscating Stupidity and is in the middle of a Batman Gambit.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Thanks to King Joyse's gambit, he gets a lot of it, before and after his Batman Gambit is revealed. To his credit, after he ends his act, he accepts full responsibility for his action, and apologizes to all injured parties, most of all Nyle.
  • Wild Card: There are three in the books: Terisa, Lebbick and The Tor, according to Joyse.
  • The Wonka: Havelock. Just don't ask him any questions.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Darsint, which saves Myste's life.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Terisa asks Eremis why he doesn't just translate Joyse through a flat mirror and drive him insane. He chuckles he wants Joyse to suffer first.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: Eremis states outright at one point that he doesn't have a single master plan, but rather takes every opportunity to improve his position relative to his enemies, while making sure that if any one strategem fails he'll still be around to try something else.
  • Yellow Eyes of Sneakiness: The High King's Monomach. It's the way Terisa is able to identify him.
  • You Are Not Alone: Artagel convinces Lebbick of this after Lebbick has retreated to his home after maiming Saddith, stating everyone who matters needs him: Geraden, Terisa, Joyse, and so on.


Alternative Title(s): The Mirror Of Her Dreams

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Literature/MordantsNeed?from=Literature.TheMirrorOfHerDreams