cover image The Spirit Lens

The Spirit Lens

Carol Berg, Author . Roc $16 (480p) ISBN 978-0-451-46311-1

In this superbly realized leadoff to Berg’s quasi-Renaissance fantasy trilogy, natural science, backed by Sabria’s King Philippe, is gaining popularity, leading some magicians to attempt his assassination. Failed mage and self-doubting librarian Portier de Savin-Duplais is chosen by Philippe, his distant cousin, to secretly probe a treacherous plot that involves his beloved queen. With fellow “agents confides” Ilario, an inane chevalier, and Dante, a ferocious renegade sorcerer, Portier embarks on an intricate quest to save king and kingdom. As in her widely praised Breath and Bone , Berg shapes the well-worn elements of epic fantasy into a lush, absorbing narrative. Even her minor characters, caught up in fiendish plots and deathly secrets, ring regally true, and Portier oscillates between rueful, reluctant, ethics-bending service and painful but necessary revelations while his old world collapses and a new one struggles to be born. (Jan.)