I feel like a broken record every time I sit down to write a review of another one of Carol Berg's books. I'm convinced at this point that she's the best fantasy author working today. Her plots are consistently excellent, her protagonists fascinating, and her world-building superb.
This novel introduces us to three new heroes: Portier, librarian turned sleuth, tasked by the king to investigate a lethal magical conspiracy; Ilario, the queen's half-brother and court fop; and Dante, a mage of tremendous ability and uncertain temperament. Watching these three interact is worth the price of admission all on its own. Unlike an earlier reviewer, I found Portier to be an extremely engaging narrator, and was right there with him as he doggedly wrestled with the crippling aftereffects of a decade-old trauma. As with all of Ms. Berg's heroes, he and the others possess an innate decency that it's impossible not to respond to. (Even Dante, I think, in spite of what he finds it necessary to do to further their investigation.)
As for the plot--Ms. Berg is careful to seed the ground with a maddening array of clues regarding what the conspiracy is aiming for and who might be involved in it, without giving very much away. I have a feeling that all of this is leading up to what will eventually be a tremendous finale, and I'm already impatiently awaiting her next volume.
Highly recommended. Really, you can't do better than this if you're a fantasy fan.
- Mass Market Paperback: 487 pages
- Publisher: Ace Books; Reprint edition (4 January 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780451463739
- ISBN-13: 978-0451463739
- ASIN: 0451463730
- Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 3.2 x 17 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 249 g
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