Picking up the story four years after The Spirit Lens, twenty-two year old Anne de Vernase is desperately trying to rebuild her shattered life after her father was found guilty of treason. Anna’s mother has gone insane, her little brother is imprisoned and her younger sister has died while studying magic at college. Anna isn’t even allowed through the college gates to collect her sister’s belongings. Portier de Savin-Duplais, the coldly calculating ex-librarian who proved instrumental in fingering Anna’s father, arrived at the remains of her family estate with a royal warrant demanding she serve the Queen as a maid of honor. Portier also delivered the news that Anna’s family no longer holds the estate she was working so hard to maintain.
Anna finds life at court enmeshed in political games where it is difficult to determine friend from foe. There’s the Queen’s mage Dante whose very presence strikes fear, Portier who watches Anna like a hawk, the power hungry Lady Antonia and many more characters, all with private agendas. Although Anna failed to gain her brother’s release or escape from an unwanted betrothal, she is determined to learn the truth behind her sister’s death. Though the current political regime favors natural science over magic; it is a position that could change overnight in a world where power is everything.
Berg continues her superb world building populated with strong antagonists and protagonists, where even the secondary characters are interesting and fully developed. Magic, murder, science and power clash around Anna as she struggles with the load life continues to dump on her. While the book starts out slow, it quickly picks up steam and packs a punch that will leave fans anxiously awaiting the next installment while wondering how much more Anna can take without suffering a nervous breakdown.
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