The Looking Glass Wars
by Frank Beddor
by Frank Beddor
The first of his Alyss of Wonderland trilogy, Frank Beddor's The Looking Glass Wars is a storming, imaginative tour-de-force that deserves to be not overlooked. Using Lewis Carroll's classic children's story, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, as his inspiration, Beddor has created something new and original, something fresh and exciting.
The Looking Glass Wars is the first book in Frank Beddor's trilogy based on Alice in wonderland.
This is a new take on the story of Alice or in his book Alyss and I think the name re-spelling is interesting, bringing something of his own to the character. The story starts when Alyss is a child living in the Heart Palace at the time of her birthday and she has a very close relationship with her friend Dodge and she has the power of imagination. Now this I was on the bridge about I couldn't decide whether I liked the idea that the imagination could be a real power or whether it was a terrible idea, because people just imagining something and then it happening I don't know, maybe a little too farfetched, even for a story but I kind of liked it as well especially because it had its limits which was good, such as you couldn't just imagining yourself flying, you had to imaging yourself having wings and then them wings taking flight you had to do the whole process it was just an easy thought, so it had its good points and its bad points.
Redd Heart who is Alyss' aunt attacks the Heart Palace trying to reclaim the queendom as she believes it is rightfully hers and in the process does a lot of killing, Dodge tries to hide and protect Alyss as all his life growing up with her has formed a strong bond, a strong love, and I like the relationship they have the princess and son of a soldier, the difference of ranks, a theme done many times but always has a good effect in a story, Redd finally catches up with the princess and her mother and has no trouble killing her own sister Queen Guinevere by way of decapitation, no remorse, no guilt just pleasure at removing her obstacles, I suppose it shows that she has been consumed by the darkness but perhaps I would have liked maybe a small bit of remorse, 1 tear, but the evil that she is does pave the way for the way that she rules over wonderland when she takes power, so it does come in good for telling of the story.
Alyss escapes her aunt by jumping into the mirror entering the crystal continuum with Hatter Madigan (Mad Hatter), I like the idea of travelling through the mirrors and that it's a normal mode of transport for the wonderlanders, its different but similar to portals and it allows you to see through the mirror before you pass back through to the real world at what is going on, like looking through a window, its interesting. They both exit the continuum and come to the Pool Of Tears, which has been said if you enter the pool you are taken from their world and no one ever returns but as they are being chased by red assassin The Cat and soldiers they don't seem to have any choice and dive straight into the unknown and then Alyss pops up out of a puddle into London a different world for Alyss, and Hatter pops up from one in Paris (it seems they got separated along the way), I did enjoy the idea of some of the puddles being portals to wonderland or other worlds, I mean *hands up* who hasn't jumped in a puddle and wanted to taken to a new world, we have all done it, so I did like that idea.
We see Alyss lost in London not knowing where she is or what to do, she is taken in by a group of orphans and helps then gain food and money by stealing and then by using her gift of imagination to have a flower sing in front of crowds to gain money, you kind of get a little sense of Oliver and his street urchins from this lot, the rough times of England. But Alyss' imagination power fades, because in our world magic, power of imagination doesn't exist, so it no longer exists for Alyss and as she is helping the orphans with their thievery she is caught by the authorities and the other orphans abandon her so they are not caught. It shows the true desperation of the time; make sure you look after yourself first.
Alyss is taken into care and then adopted by the Liddell's, they already have children and Alyss finds it hard to fit in as she is made to sound crazy when she tells them about her home and tell her that her name is spelt Alice and not Alyss, they say it is all in her head and wonderland doesn't exist, it's just something she imagined to help her cope with her life, which is an idea I liked because it is very possible for someone who has been though a trauma or troubled life to create a safe world of their own to help them process what has happened to them so it had its sense of reality which I enjoyed. Apart from one man Mr Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) who wanted to hear her tale and so she told him of it,
4 years later the book Mr Dodgson wrote was finished, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and Alyss was furious as he had everything wrong retold the story in the wrong way making it out as if it was all made up and a fantasy and so she decided to not speak to him or see him again,. Then finally she started to believe what everyone had been telling her all of this time, that she made wonderland and everyone in it up, she broke and came back to reality, she was growing up in this new world and it had become her home and her reality, I think it was a good idea that she gave up, showing her limits.
We see the book go back and forth between Alyss, Hatter and wonderland, but to be honest the parts I was more interested in as Alyss life, and the rest I read but didn't find as interesting, Hatters travels were amusing as he searched for Alyss around the world, but the fight against red for the rebels in wonderland didn't interest me a lot with the exception of Dodge, after seeing his father murdered by Redds assassin The Cat he grew up filled with hatred and rage and all he wanted was to kill The Cat and get revenge, he became hard and cold, a darker character while he thought Alyss was dead and put himself in constant danger, he was no longer the young boy in love with a princess and I liked the change in his character, shaped by the events of his life.
Now another 5 year Alyss has lived in her new home and now 16 years old she was in London's high society as a young girl of age and availability with young men fawning over her with her mother Mrs Liddell trying to help her choose a husband, and to her mother delight she catches the attention of Prince Leopold I liked that a new love interest was a princes, quite fitting for a former princess of Wonderland, it is like her relationship she had with dodge but now reversed, she was the commoner and she was courting a prince, it's a nice similarity. And the prince proposes to her, she accepts knowing it will make her mother very happy, and she did like the prince.
After another 4 years Redd finds out Alyss is still alive and sends The Cat and soldiers to kill her Dodge comes through the pool of tears after finding out she is still alive and to rescue her first finding her at the masquerade ball, and I love this scene I imagine it great in my head, she has no idea it is Dodge she is dancing with, and I just see them flowing around the ball room, Dodge's love for her rowing, and then he disappears as Leopold comes back, I can imagine his feelings when he know Alyss is to marry someone else, in my mind he has a mix of jealousy and love and then the attack happens at her wedding to Prince Leopold, and dodge reappears again to rescues her from the attack he takes her back to wonderland through the puddles, I like that he came as her knight in shining armour to find and save her.
After returning to Wonderland it takes her a little bit of time to realize that it was all real and she did not make this world and its people up and then has to come to terms with being Wonderlands savoir. I think it should have showed her fight more for the other world, she had spent most of her life there and had a family and think she should have fought more to go back, rather than giving in so easy to being princess/queen Alyss again, and Leopold I wish that she was written with more love for him because one thing that would have made this story so much better is a love for two of the med in her life and I wanted so much for Leopold to be so in love with her that he would find his way to Wonderland and fight for her love, and dodge to do the same, and for her to be torn between them both, and I think that would have made the story stronger.
Alyss then sees the world Redd has created and the lives that have been destroyed and then looks to destroy her and take her place as Queen Alyss of wonderland, but first she needs to enter the maze to strengthen her power, the maze to me was disappointing, I expected more from it, and for it to be harder, and I just think that it could have been a lot better than it was. and we have a few more minor events before we come to the finale with the battle with Redd, which can I say was also a little disappointing, it's one of those points where I thought that the idea of the power of imagination wasn't such a good idea, but it was entertaining enough for me to finish the book as Alyss succeeds and Redd jumps into the heart crystal to escape, which shocked everyone as it has never been done and no one know if she survived.
So overall I did enjoy reading this book, it was entertaining and it did make me want to read the next book
*Imagination power, good at times, not so good at other times
*enjoyed Alyss self doubt to if wonderland was real and her breaking as she decided to forget.
*enjoyed the relationship Alyss had with dodge, the true love aspect between princess and commoner.
*thought that Alyss could have had a better relationship with Leopold, more love and that he would follow her back to wonderland to fight for her.
*the looking glass maze could have been more interesting.
*the final battle wasn't as epic as it could have been.