Feb 26, 12
Read from February 24 to 25, 2012
5 Big Stars
This is the best book that I have read so far in 2012. My reading enjoyment of this novel surely benefitted me by rereading book one just before I started this one. The Spirit Lens is an enjoyable mystery that has moments of greatness but it seemed to be entirely too focused on the plot and could have benefitted from more backstory. The Soul Mirror, book number two in the series, does not suffer from the same opportunity. It builds off the first, giving us more from our favorite characters like Portier, Ilario, and Dante. They are further developed in this book and that is a good thing. Berg chooses book two to be led by a young woman named Anne Sophia Madeleine de Vernase, ney de Mondragon. Anne is an incredibly fiery, intelligent, brave, independent, fierce, and of course beautiful young woman who is the daughter of the traitor Michel de Vernase.
This book like the first, is a mystery at heart. It takes place in a world that finds that times are changing, strange things are happening, and magic appears to be playing it's hand. The Soul Mirror is a book of many layers. It is a mystery, a coming of age story, and a book about redemption. We the reader go a very long way with our protagonists by the end of book two to finally find out the mystery behind who shot the arrow at the king.
As the plot unfolds and Anne begins to put the puzzle pieces together, she finds that things are not always what they appear to be. Anne is a science based educated woman, who until events unfold upon her, held little belief in magic, sorcery, and the supernatural. Anne carries this novel, and she carries it easily as she is one of the most remarkable leads that I have come across in a long time(She is on par with Vin). This poor woman has so many of life's tragedies and tribulations thrown her way, that it is hard to fathom where she found the stregth to carry on. Although, there are chapters of other POV's, this book is her story and it made it all the better...I loved this woman.
I laughed out loud, after Anne was attacked by bandits, a small conversation with Ilario:
"“Here I thought Portier was the world’s most surprising person, a scrap of a librarian with the constitution of a dragon. And then a maiden who scarce reaches my elbow comes along and leaves one man dead, one bloodied, one frighted out of his boots, and another about to explode like a badly stuffed musket.""
In one conversation with her brother, Anne showed how scary she can be:
"“I feel like a volcano, ready to spew murder. I stabbed a man in cold blood and relished it. I mutilated a man’s face and another man’s hands and hungered to hurt them more. And I killed one of them. "
Anne had some really significant and interesting conversations with her friend of the aether:
"'The aether is the medium of souls. Yet the most memorable part of our exchanges had not been the words themselves but the richness . . . the completeness . . . of their speaking: all the shyness, longing, wry humor, sympathy, emptiness, the shared wonder at the sky and its principled behavior, our awe at magnificent ideas, yet another form of seeing.'"
Berg's prose is descritptive and beautiful:
". . It was not the mindstorm that carried these, but a cold, dark current that filled my head, my chest, my spirit—a river, deep and black, not a morbid darkness as commonly thought, but as richly textured as ermine, as substantial as liquid ebony, as mysterious as midnight with all its exotic scents and eerie cries, its unexpected wonders, secrets, hidden passions, dangers, violence, and risky pleasure. Infusing all was a fierce and abiding joy that blazed with the pungent heat of good wine. It felt as if my friend had ripped himself open to send these fragments to reassure me, exposing this singular flood, this pungent darkness."
As with all great mysteries, plot twists, surprises, and sudden changes make them fun to read. This book had several major twists, and one that changed everything. I was thouroughly enjoying this book until the major plot point change...after that I was blown away with the conclusion of this book. This gave this book great emotion and heart, and I loved it... it did not play as a second novel normally does at it has a magnificent ending and pulls together so many of the first two novel story lines. It is a better book than the first, and I wish that I could say that it could be read without reading that book. You should read both but know that The Soul Mirror makes The Spirit Lens a better book.
Finally, I loved the tension and the interactions of Anne with the bad ass mage Dante. They had several incredibly scenes where they appeared as if they were dueling each other, only using words instead of steel. Anne feared the crazy mage, and the mage clearly was annoyed by her strength and resilence.
This is a fabulous mystery/fantasy series that is written with eloquence and poise. I am a huge fan of Carol Berg's and highly recommend her to those that enjoy adult fantasy. Anne, our extremely memorable heroine, carried this book along with my emotions...I loved it.