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...
This is basically a police procedural placed in a world - filled with magic - that somewhat resembles Renaissance France. It does take a bit to get to the main plot line, but Berg's world building is as good as it gets. This is a literate and finely crafted tale, peopled with intriguing characters who are as fully realized as any I've come across.
To top it off, Mr. DeVries offers us an excellent narration. Bravo!
16 of 16 people found this review helpful
Carol Berg writes intricately detailed stories, and this is no exception. Despite the thick and lush detail, there are times when it seems not enough detail is given--especially when the protagonist arrives at some conclusion that the exposed train of thought does not justify. Still, it's a well written and entertaining story. The characters are believably human and drive the plot. I had a hard time trusting the narrator's rendition of Dante though. His character voice sounded too old to be a younger man than the protagonist. But otherwise it was performed very well. I haven't read the other books in the series yet. I hope some of the questions left dangling at the end of this one are answered later!
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
Many fantasy series are very predictable. There is the sword and sorcery type typified by Tolkien. There is the paranormal detective typified by Jim Butcher, etc. I found this trilogy to be quite different from any I had read before.
I liked it.... with some reservations.
Each of the three books in the trilogy is quite long (17, 18, and 21 hours), and in the early parts of each book, the story dragged a little for me. But each book comes to an exciting and unusual ending which very definitely justifies the long buildup.
I didn't always understand everything that happened. I suspect that this arose from lapses in my attention. If I had been reading rather than listening to this, I suspect I would have gone back from time to time to skim a few pages and figure out what I had missed. But you can't really skim in an audiobook, so I just plowed on and eventually I'd figure things out. However, if you are into the possibility of getting the Kindle book along with the Audible book, this trilogy would probably be a good one to do it with. (Or check out the book from your local library and have it on hand while you are listening.)
The cast of characters is about the same over the three books, but each book is narrated from a different point of view. The characters are complex and interesting and I didn't find any of them to be ripoffs of any other characters I have ever known.
Each of the first two books comes to a satisfactory end, but the third book is a triumph. It will be well worth your trouble to complete the trilogy.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?
Yes time well spent, Enjoyed this book.
Would you recommend The Spirit Lens to your friends? Why or why not?
What about David DeVries???s performance did you like?
Nice permformance, easy to listen to.
Do you think The Spirit Lens needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?
Good setup to the next phase in the trio's relationship.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful
This book is something different than most books in the fantasy genre. Think, epic fantasy police novel. It sounds strange but it does work. The world and characters are rich and well-developed. The narrator took some getting used to at first, but grew on me as the story progressed.
The story is good, but be warned that it starts off pretty slow. Be prepared to sink some time into it before it really starts getting good. If you do you will find it worth the wait. In a way it kind of reminds me of Mike Carrey's Felix castor series in the way it builds very slow but by the end you don't want to put it down.
This isn't my usual type of read, but I did enjoy it.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
Starts slow but does pick up as you go, Book 2 is terrific. I couldn't put it down. Book Three takes the long way round and there are many characters that changed physical descriptions between the three, Dante changes into a whiney character for most of three even as his powers continue to manifest. These books are definitely new and fresh, worth a listen.
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
This is a detective story set in a "the magic is failing" world. For the most part, you can see how the mystery is shaping up based on what the characters already know, but there are a few pieces of the puzzle that just show up out of nowhere. The story is a little frustrating, but it's also interesting. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I should also probably say that the second book is better than this one, but the third book is worse. It's not a bad trilogy to get into, but it's probably not going to be many people's favorite.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
while it may have been better if I hadn't listened to it in small Chunks, it also didn't capture my attention enough that I had to keep listening to it.
outstanding summer read. I was plugged in at wvery opportunity. Charming and vivid characters, superb mystery and a few twits that were unexpected.
read this one!
Carol Berg's earlier work is highly enjoyable pulp, emotionally gratifying and eminently fun to read. The Spirit Lens is also emotionally satisfying and fun to read, but it is deeper and richer. The world-building is especially enjoyable, reminiscent of France poised on the cusp of the Enlightenment (where magic plays the role of faith) but with varied original cosmologies and histories having brought it to that point. The narrator is not only likable, he contains all the struggles and contradictions, beliefs, hopes, and frustrations of a truly believable character - and the explicit plot line, of unraveling a mysterious tangle of sorcerous crimes, is paralleled by an inner plot line that is also one of truth-seeking, this time of a fairly conventional and unhappy young man forced to understand his own history and change many of his most profound beliefs about his world and himself before he can succeed in his task.
The short version of that is, this book is not just fun, it's satisfying in a more literary, well-crafted way than some of Berg's early work. For someone like me who notices that consciously, it means the story can be enjoyed on multiple levels simultaneously. For someone who doesn't notice these things consciously, it still shapes a much more solid, powerful book. It's always nice to find a writer who just keeps getting better and better (especially when there are so many others who use up all their skills and good ideas in the first book and then devolve). Berg is, almost startlingly, aging well.
I will note, the ending is an odd one, in terms of resolution. While not a cliff-hanger in the traditional sense, the story ends just as the world takes a sudden sharp turn into a much darker and stranger reality.
David Devries is a very entertaining reader and handles the narrator's voice very well. Some of his voices for other characters are a little jarring at first, but they do work. From time to time - not often, but often enough that I found it noticeable - he obscures or inverts the meaning of a sentence by putting the emphasis on entirely the wrong word, suggesting to me that he may have done the reading without quite as much preparation as would have been best. It doesn't make the reading bad and I think that many people who 'surf' a little might not even notice, but it is a touch distracting to a listener who is following along very attentively. I'd still happily buy another book with his reading.