The Looking Glass – click any image for full size
One of the most eye-catching fantasy realms in Second Life has always been The Looking Glass, by Marcus Inkpen and Sharni Azalee. The home to their store, the region has always offered a warm welcome to guests, and an opportunity to explore and discover. Hence why I have a habit of hopping back to it and re-visiting (although the last time I actually blogged on it was back in 2013).
Recently Marcus and Sharni completely redesigned the region, and what was once something stunning to the eye and wonderful to explore has become something absolutely enchanting.
The new build retains many echoes of the old, whilst also being entirely original and distinct, carrying within it many reflections of the marvellous builds Sharni and Marcus have provided for recent Fantasy Faire events. The great bridge is still there, for example, with huge arches spanning the landscape below and reaching out across the region. Only now it has been made whole, and its once heavy stone pillars re-wrought in iron and stone. Nearby, islands still float serenely in the sky, offering sanctuaries of solitude for visitors.
On the ground, the land looks as if it has been shaken as if it were a blanket, falling into new wrinkles and folds through which waters meander. The old town with its modern stores and wider streets is gone. Instead, and reached via a stony path across bridges and through trees, which leads the visitor to it from the dockside landing, sits a smaller town. This is really a gateway, wrapping about itself echoes of Lucentia (Fantasy Faire 2016), as it climbs upwards to merge into the Great Tower, which in turn ascends into the sky, dominating the landscape like a benevolent Barad-dûr.
Within this mighty tower can be found the Looking Glass store, and above it, the magnificent Flying Eye Gallery, with all the memories of Fantasy Faire as captured by Alisaundra Andel. Also hidden within its lofty heights lay the Library and its courtyard, a bedroom / workplace and eyrie-like perches where people might sit and cuddle.
Remain outside of the tower, and you might find your way to the ground-level ballroom, within which sits the memory of Ichi-Go, Ichi-E (Fantasy Faire 2015). Across the water from this, and nestled beneath the great tower lies the familiar sweep and rise of The Dark Tower, one of the commercial buildings offered for sale by The looking Glass. It sits perfectly within the new landscape, and in doing so it also harkens back to the previous incarnation of the region, where it also once stood. Close by sits a house which in turn carries a reminder of Blackwater Glenn (Fantasy Faire 2014), further giving the region that feeling of familiarity – and perhaps a smile – to the seasoned explorer.
To help visitors get around, there is a system of teleport boards which highlight the major locations in the region. But exploring The looking Glass really is best done on foot, with the odd bit of flying. I did this by following the path from the docks to the great tower, then up through the tower to cross the great span of the bridge, and thence back to ground level.
This route has the virtue of keeping your feet dry and minimising flying, while offering some superb views out over the region. It also brings the floating islands within easy reach, as well as directing the visitor on their way to the little coves along the coast with their secluded beaches, and also towards the open-air ballroom. The loop can then be completed up winding path and back to the town clustered at the foot of the great tower, then around and through the streets there.
The Looking Glass has always been a marvellous place to visit, full of visual riches and a special hint of magic. This new design for the region beautifully enhances everything which has always made it a place to visit and re-visit, and added to it a depth of memory for anyone who has loved Sharni’s and Macus’ designs for Fantasy Faire which makes it simply irresistible.
- The Looking Glass (Rated: Moderate)