Review: The Spirit Lens by Carol Berg

4 out of 5

I have picked up this book several times at the library but never actually managed to start reading it. The cover  combined with the name of the series, Collegia Magica, kept making me skeptical. . Finally I decided to take the plunge and am very glad I did. You can’t judge a book by it’s cover and this cover has nothing to do with the story or the characters. The Spirit Lens is a wonderful fantasy mystery. The main character, Portier de Savin-Duplais, is well rounded and well thought out. He has experienced failure as a mage and resigned himself to life as a librarian at the Collegia. His life is completely changed when he receives a message from his very distant cousin, the King. Asked to solve a mystery involving magic, he sets out with the Queen’s half brother, Lord Ilario, a fop considered an idiot by pretty much everyone, to figure out who is behind several assassination attempts on the King. The two enlist the help of the Master mage Dante, a gruff and dislikable character, who is also one of the few to ever pass the master test without being “of the blood.” Berg has created a compelling magical system where only those from certain bloodlines carry the ability to perform magic. Dante opens Portier’s eyes to a completely different type of magic outside of the Collegia’s approved magical forms. Add to this the political intrigues of the Court, including the waning political and popular power of the mages and she has created a very believable world. The mystery itself is well done with twists and turns throughout. I dislike mysteries that I can figure out by the middle of the book and that does not happen here. All in all it is a great start to this series.

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