Final installment of Berg's character-driven sword-and-sorcery trilogy (The Soul Mirror, 2011, etc.), again with all of the main characters reappearing—even the dead ones.
This time the main narrator is reviled, blinded sorcerer Dante, whose task is to teach practical, intelligent and skeptical Anne de Vernase how to wield her powerful magic. At length wearying of Dante's dogged insistence on discipline and control, Anne departs to visit her family. Dante, meanwhile, learns of a ghostly, pleading young woman apparently with the ability to project magic through dreams using a mysterious green crystal. The magic bound up in the crystal is utterly different than anything in Dante's experience. So Dante, despite knowing that the lure of the crystal is a trap, cannot resist seeking it out. At least he'll be accompanied by his old comrade, clownish chevalier Ilario de Sylvae. Another compelling reason driving Dante to seek the crystal is the puzzle of missing royal librarian Portier de Savin-Duplais. Dante's friend Portier may be immortal—and their mutual enemy, the malevolent wizard Jacard, aims to bury Portier alive to power the recovery of Jacard's uncle Kajetan (slain by Anne and Dante in the previous book) from a ghastly realm beyond death. Co-narrator Anne finally grasps the situation and sets out in pursuit. All these adventures are somewhat marred by an obvious spy to whom everybody remains stoically oblivious. The downside is the ending: The abrupt switch from two narrators to four serves only to obfuscate, delay and dilute the force of what should have been a shattering conclusion.
Nonetheless, enthralling and not to be missed.