Maximus stopped at Raiden’s last words. “You know about my father,” he said slowly.-The Nexus Mirror by N.E. Michael
“Yeah,” Raiden said excitedly. “I’ve dreamt about you before. The fierce, daring Maximus, son of Armolin, set on avenging the death of his father. You’re in a few of the comics.”
“This is not a storybook, human!” Maximus growled angrily. “We are at war!”
Raiden stumbled, startled by his response. “Jeez, relax. I’m still trying to wrap my head around that.”
The Nexus Mirror by N.E. Michael
Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review. In no way did this affect my review or my rating of the novel.
The Nexus Mirror is is a contemporary fantasy novel about the struggle between the thirteen tribes of the Enlai, a secret race of magical beings. One Enlai, a man named Roko, seeks to find a mythical device called the Nexus Mirror, which he hopes to use to rule over all of the Enlai. However, several of the other tribes are working against him, each with their own motivations and their own heroes, and their separate agendas clash in a multi-faceted war.
As action-heavy as The Nexus Mirror is, it still managed to feel like a slow burner. There were a several story threads being spun over quite a few different characters, and the plot itself was built slowly piece by piece. That kind of multitasking with storytelling is difficult to do, but I definitely think the author pulled it off. The narrative is primarily character-driven, as the reader witnesses choices that the main characters must face that have wide-spread consequences among many of the Enlai tribes. In these moments, I appreciated the author’s choice to flip between different character perspectives, so those wide-spread consequences could be seen from different angles.
As much as I enjoyed the story and found myself absorbed in the plot, I had a hard time with the pacing. There were quite a few characters in this who received chapters from their perspective, and the switch back and forth was oftentimes what drew the pacing down when it should have been propelled forward. I feel like we’d make a switch, I’d take some time to get settled with that character and re-invested in the story, and then right as things got exciting we’d switch again. I’m sure the intended effect was to build tension and leave the reader with a cliffhanger, but instead, it often felt disruptive. That being said, the author did do an excellent job of drawing me into each chapter. I definitely felt the tension in these places – I just feel that it dropped off a little too quickly.
There were quite a few characters to keep track of in The Nexus Mirror, and I’m not going to pretend that I never had to flip back and refresh my memory, but each character was given solid backstories, believable motivations, and acted consistently. Alia, for example, was perhaps one of the most complex and therefore interesting characters of the novel. She is described from the beginning as incredibly loyal to her sister, and willing to go to any lengths to protect her. That dedication is thoroughly tested throughout the novel, as the reader has the opportunity to see where Alia will draw the line in that intent. Sarah is initially presented as the hero-like figure of the novel, around which the majority of the action is focused. She is a young girl who has not fully realized her potential, but I do appreciate her own narrative, and the moments she is given choices to make. I know this novel is just the first of a series, so I hope that Sarah is given more of an opportunity to grow as the series continues.
Undoubtedly the aspect of The Nexus Mirror that I enjoyed most was the incredible worldbuilding done by the author. It was clear that he had given a lot of thought to the various tribes, the technologies used by each, the way that the Enlai intersected with humans, and both the past and the future of this world. Roko’s followers were considered to be the most technologically advanced, and I really appreciated the time spent on their military technology, including training and bodily modifications. I also appreciated the culture presented among the Shadows, who had a complex and interesting power structure.
In all, I will give The Nexus Mirror a 7 out of 10. This was an exciting read, and I certainly found myself interested in the world and the challenges of the characters. I would recommend this book for lovers of epic fantasy or science fiction.