"In this superbly realized leadoff to Berg's quasi-Renaissance fantasy trilogy...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.
"The magic system is intriguingly mysterious . . . and Portier's conviction that he ought to be doing great magic communicates itself to the reader, making it seem there must be a deeper mystery to why magic has been so neutered in this age, and in Portier in particular. That mystery remains to be solved at the end of this first volume; even the assassination attempt is only partially dealt with, but it's a surprisingly satisfying lack of solution that left me eager for the next volume in this interestingly twisted new series."
"Berg is a master world builder that novice fantasy authors would do well to study. Her characters are well rounded, and her created environment becomes as familiar as one's own backyard. The fantastic elements of the story are normal - not ordinary, just a natural part of the world. Plus, the plot is nuanced and detailed. This first installment in a new trilogy, Collegia Magica, is a winner."
"A strong supporter of science over magic, the King of Sabria appoints a failed wizard, a flamboyant knight-courtier, and a brooding rogue magus to investigate his own near murder. Is his wife behind the attack? Set in a world in which the implacable laws of science war with the resonances of magical power for supremacy, Berg's novel is rich with vivid characters and unforgettable places. VERDICT The author of the "Lighthouse" series (Flesh and Spirit; Breath and Bone) and the Rai-Kirah series (Transformation; Restoration; Revelation) spins an infectiously enjoyable series opener that fans of thought-provoking fantasy and intriguing mystery should appreciate."
"This lavish quasi-Renaissance fantasy, a worthy sequel to 2010's The Spirit Lens, traces "plain, plodding, rational" Anne de Vernase's multipronged quest to discover her sister's killer, clear her beloved father's name, rescue her brother from unspeakable torment, and heal her mother's madness. Caught up in the swirling Machiavellian plots of Sabria's glittering court, in a land barely recovered from the fearful Blood Wars, Anne gradually learns whom to trust, only to discover her own latent magical talents and a strange, powerful romance. Berg's characters return to vivid life, especially Zorro-like Lord Ilario, a court fool turned dashing masked swordsman, and former librarian Portier, kin to Sabria's king and possible human sacrifice. Berg refreshes and reinvigorates the familiar trappings of epic fantasy, shaping a novel that rings true both linguistically and imaginatively. This is one to savor.
"The fully realized characters and strongly visual, tactile prose help to offset the sheer length, weight, and intensity of the narrative. A compelling and altogether admirable work.
"An enthralling sequel to the events depicted in The Spirit Lens.† Ms. Berg continues to pen a mesmerizing universe filled with tortured and complex characters who operate within an amazingly believable framework of magic and mayhem.† The reader is quickly swept into the complex relationships and machinations of the major characters while the† action continues to escalate until one is caught in the web of intrigue and astonished by the rapidly unfolding events.† A fascinating read."
"Bergís second series installment (after The Spirit Lens) tells a complex story of science versus magic and of one womanís determination to maintain her integrity while embracing an alien knowledge. VERDICT Berg brings life and grace to a story of magic and politics that should appeal to the authorís fans as well as lovers of ≠Renaissance-style fantasy."
"A follow up to her last book,†The Spirit Lens, Carol Berg digs in deep to pull another winner from her head.†The Soul Mirror follows the story of Anne de Vernase. She is a no-nonsense noble with a distaste for magic, because it has ruined her life. Her father is on the run, her mother is locked up, and her sister is dead, all because of a misuse of magic. Her world becomes much smaller and frightening when she becomes the target of a much larger scheme.
The Soul Mirror is a Renaissance-style fantasy that grabs the readerís hand and never lets go. An intellectual read (meaning I had to look up some words to see what they meant) that makes no qualms of pushing itself to the limits. Bergís characters fill each page with emotions and deep feelings. The Soul Mirror is unlike anything in this genre Iíve read in a while. The book feels more like watching a play, rather than reading a book. The ending is truly amazing. I look forward to the next installment of the series."
"A novel that stakes an early claim to my Top 10 list of 2011 - currently at #2-#3 - The Soul Mirror (A++) takes the Collegia Magica series to the next level with a gripping tale that essentially ends all the threads from The Spirit Lens, though enough loose ends are left so new series books can follow. Magic, science, family feuds, a kingdom and maybe even a world - or at least its laws of nature - in peril, a great heroine with a superb cast and traditional fantasy does not get better than this!"
"This book wrecked me. But, then, Iíve come to expect that of a Carol Berg novel, and Iíll tell you one thingĖI enjoyed it. Rough as the emotional upheaval was as I was readingĖfor itís true, I get far too involved with her charactersĖthe ending was satisfying enough that I spent the rest of the day grinning."
"The pace is steady and deliberate. While there are important events that happen, there is a lot of thinking going on as Anne attempts to unravel the mystery of her father's disappearance and the Aspirant's nefarious plans. ... Fortunately, all the information Anne gathers leads her to the solution and the exciting climax. But I don't dare spoil it for you. See if you can figure it out for yourself. Can you read THE SOUL MIRROR without having read THE SPIRIT LENS? Probably not. You'll lose your way with the story and names, and the plot won't have the same impact. Should you bother reading the first in order to read the second? As well as prepare for the third, THE DAEMON PRISM coming out in 2012? Absolutely.
"This rousing and complex good-against-evil battle concludes Berg's voluminous quasi-Renaissance epic fantasy trilogy....[Berg's] insight into the nature of human good and evil, the constantly ebbing and flowing relationships among lovers and friends...consistently raises this novel above sword-and-sorcery routine."
"Enthralling and not to be missed."
"The overall storyline is elegant in its ebb and flow with a lyrical prose that dips deep into a well of darkness and despair...The ending is a magnificent battle of wits, magic, and sacrifice as Dante struggles to find his way back from the Hell he has consigned himself to. I was hard pressed to imagine how Ms. Berg could end this epic saga on a satisfying note yet she managed to do so in a way that will keep these characters in my heart and soul for years to come."
"One of the best fantasies I have encounter in years...Berg takes chances with her characters...that leave them imprinted indelibly on your memory and heart...wonderful."
"Carol Berg's The Daemon Prism...a great character cast, moral complexity, universe expansion and superb writing...excellent ending, it pretty much fulfilled my ultra-high expectations and will be a top 25 2012 novel of mine."
"SPIRIT was narrated in first person by Portier, MIRROR by Anne, but DAEMON is primarily Dante, a PoV that is a complicated, tortured soul. He's proved in every book that he's willing to do despicable things in order to see the mystery through, and will even risk his friendships and the relationship with the woman he loves. Berg has made a deliciously tortured character in Dante, whose past has shaped him, and we finally get to see in DAEMON exactly what that means. Many are convinced he's the evil that needs to be stopped, but Anne, Portier, and Illario are steadfast in their trust that he's doing what's ultimately the right thing. In DAEMON Anne, Portier, and even Illario make brief appearances as first person viewpoints to round out the narrative; but here, it's Dante who shines...fascinating and compelling.
"Another intricately plotted and detailed fantasy novel that sweeps the reader onto a remarkable journey of magic and betrayal.... Ms Berg continues to display her mastery at world-building and her facility for creating characters and situations that shift perceptions with subsequent chapters in this mesmerizing addition to yet another of her complex series."
Copyright © Carol Berg, 2012