Literature: The Mirror of Her Dreams

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

The Mirror of Her Dreams is the first installment in Stephen R. Donaldson's series, Mordant's Need. 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.


  • Abusive Parents: Both of Terisa's parents, but especially her father, who is described as a cold, sarcastic man.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Elega, to Nyle.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 ...
  • 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 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. Geraden eventually stops his brother, but before Nyle can divulge any more information, he's killed for his trouble.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Chosen One: Geraden and Terisa, but no one knows how... yet. They are both suspected of harboring hitherto unknown powers of Imagery, and it's said outright that Terisa can sense where mirrors are focused and that Geraden features prominantly in the augury. The disbelief in Terisa and Geraden's powers causes the Congery to pick who they think is The Chosen One. This causes a wall to be blown out of Orison by the half-crazed futuristic warrior and for Geraden and Terisa to almost be killed by the subsequent rock fall.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Myste, with her romantic notions.
  • 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. No one knows by who yet, but he is.
    • Probably Master Eremis.
  • Declaration of Protection: Geraden, to the point of assigning two guards illegally to watch over her, and then, after that, his brother Artagel.
  • Description in the Mirror: Used rather neatly to show both Terisa's appearance and a large part of her characterisation.
  • Downer Ending: With Terisa in the hands of Castellan Lebbick, Geraden in a strange land, possibly out of reach of everyone, Nyle dead by someone's hand, Alend on the verge of laying siege to Orison, and Master Eremis getting away with his evil scheme.
  • 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.
  • First Girl Wins: Or First Guy Wins in this case, played completely straight.
  • 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.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Oh, Saddith knows how to use this to her advantage, and even lectures Terisa on it.
  • 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.
  • Keeping Secrets Sucks: As Terisa finds out the hard way ...
  • 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). Those with the talent can step into the mirrors themselves, 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 unless you are an arch-imager, 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. In fact, the reason Geraden and Terisa are so important is that they can break the rules.
  • 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
  • Missed the Call: Verdict's still out on who: The Champion or Terisa. Geraden's fate seems secure, though.
  • Nice Guy: 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.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Terisa, all the way.
  • Really Gets Around: Saddith and Eremis
  • "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.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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.
  • 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
  • The Unfavorite: Eremis — although he's able to work around it with his wits — and Nyle.
  • The Vamp: Saddith. She sleeps with men to rise in social position.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Nyle and Elega.