The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg

The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg was a book that started off slow, but soon had me invested in the character’s outcomes.

In a kingdom on the verge of a grand renaissance, where natural science has supplanted failing sorcery, someone aims to revive a savage rivalry…

For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery’s decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life’s bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria’s last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the king of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled.

As the king’s new agente confide, Portier – much to his dismay – is partnered with the popinjay Ilario de Sylvae, the laughingstock of Sabria’s court. Then the need to infiltrate a magical cabal leads Portier to Dante, a brooding, brilliant young sorcerer whose heretical ideas and penchant for violence threaten to expose the investigation before it’s begun. But in an ever-shifting landscape of murders, betrayals, old secrets, and unholy sorcery, the three agentes will be forced to test the boundaries of magic, nature, and the divine…

The first half of The Spirit Lens was devoted to setting the story up, and as a result it kind of dragged in places. There just wasn’t too much going on that was able to hold my attention. This had me thinking that it would be more of the same in the second half, but surprisingly that wasn’t the case.

After everything was put into motion. When all of the characters are introduced, and the plot is well on it’s way. That was when it started getting really interesting. There was tons of mystery in The Spirit Lens. The duality of the character’s added to the feeling that I couldn’t be sure who was good or evil.  It really made for a great story that had me restraining myself from skipping ahead in order to figure out who was trying to take the king’s life.

The idea that everyone has secrets was portrayed really well in The Spirit Lens. Every character had something to hide that wasn’t readily apparent at first glance, and it was Portier de Savin-Duplais’ job to find out these secrets. To deduce and confront when necessary. I found Portier to be an unconventional hero. Usually in this type of book there is something special about the protagonist. Something that sets him/her apart from the rest, but in The Spirit Lens Portier is anything but. If anything his abilities in magic were extraordinarily sub par. That’s why in the beginning I felt it dragged, because on the surface, Portier sounded like a pretty boring character. Then the story really got going, and Portier started to actually get interesting. He was like a magical version of Sherlock Holmes in the way that he was attempting to solve the crime. It really made for an intriguing story.

So, The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg didn’t start off on the best of terms, but it sure made up for it in the second half of the novel. It kept me on my toes, and wove a tale filled with manipulation and duplicity. If your looking for a good mystery this is definitely something that I urge you to check out.

Read Order:
The Spirit Lens
The Soul Mirror (2011)
The Daemon Prism (2012)

Also reviewed by:
King of the Nerds
Fantasy Book Critic
Imaginary Lands
Speculative Book Review
The Literate Lemming