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The Spirit Lens

A Novel of the Collegia Magica
Narrated by: David DeVries
Series: Collegia Magica, Book 1
Length: 17 hrs and 13 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars (399 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

In a kingdom on the verge of a grand renaissance, where natural science has supplanted failing sorcery, someone aims to revive a savage rivalry...

For Portier de Savin-Duplais, failed student of magic, sorcery's decline into ambiguity and cheap illusion is but a culmination of life's bitter disappointments. Reduced to tending the library at Sabria's last collegia magica, he fights off despair with scholarship. But when the king of Sabria charges him to investigate an attempted murder that has disturbing magical resonances, Portier believes his dreams of a greater destiny might at last be fulfilled. As the king's new agente confide, Portier - much to his dismay - is partnered with the popinjay Ilario de Sylvae, the laughingstock of Sabria's court. Then the need to infiltrate a magical cabal leads Portier to Dante, a brooding, brilliant young sorcerer whose heretical ideas and penchant for violence threaten to expose the investigation before it's begun. But in an ever-shifting landscape of murders, betrayals, old secrets, and unholy sorcery, the three agentes will be forced to test the boundaries of magic, nature, and the divine...

©2010 Carol Berg (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

First Rate

This is basically a police procedural placed in a world - filled with magic - that somewhat resembles Renaissance France. It does take a bit to get to the main plot line, but Berg's world building is as good as it gets. This is a literate and finely crafted tale, peopled with intriguing characters who are as fully realized as any I've come across.

To top it off, Mr. DeVries offers us an excellent narration. Bravo!

16 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

First in the Collegia Magica series

Carol Berg writes intricately detailed stories, and this is no exception. Despite the thick and lush detail, there are times when it seems not enough detail is given--especially when the protagonist arrives at some conclusion that the exposed train of thought does not justify. Still, it's a well written and entertaining story. The characters are believably human and drive the plot. I had a hard time trusting the narrator's rendition of Dante though. His character voice sounded too old to be a younger man than the protagonist. But otherwise it was performed very well. I haven't read the other books in the series yet. I hope some of the questions left dangling at the end of this one are answered later!

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Slow start but strong story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Yes time well spent, Enjoyed this book.

Would you recommend The Spirit Lens to your friends? Why or why not?

Yes recomend

What about David DeVries???s performance did you like?

Nice permformance, easy to listen to.

Do you think The Spirit Lens needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

Good setup to the next phase in the trio's relationship.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Cliff
  • madison, MS, United States
  • 02-06-14

Something different

This book is something different than most books in the fantasy genre. Think, epic fantasy police novel. It sounds strange but it does work. The world and characters are rich and well-developed. The narrator took some getting used to at first, but grew on me as the story progressed.

The story is good, but be warned that it starts off pretty slow. Be prepared to sink some time into it before it really starts getting good. If you do you will find it worth the wait. In a way it kind of reminds me of Mike Carrey's Felix castor series in the way it builds very slow but by the end you don't want to put it down.

This isn't my usual type of read, but I did enjoy it.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

This trilogy is very fresh and original.

Many fantasy series are very predictable. There is the sword and sorcery type typified by Tolkien. There is the paranormal detective typified by Jim Butcher, etc. I found this trilogy to be quite different from any I had read before.

I liked it.... with some reservations.

Each of the three books in the trilogy is quite long (17, 18, and 21 hours), and in the early parts of each book, the story dragged a little for me. But each book comes to an exciting and unusual ending which very definitely justifies the long buildup.

I didn't always understand everything that happened. I suspect that this arose from lapses in my attention. If I had been reading rather than listening to this, I suspect I would have gone back from time to time to skim a few pages and figure out what I had missed. But you can't really skim in an audiobook, so I just plowed on and eventually I'd figure things out. However, if you are into the possibility of getting the Kindle book along with the Audible book, this trilogy would probably be a good one to do it with. (Or check out the book from your local library and have it on hand while you are listening.)

The cast of characters is about the same over the three books, but each book is narrated from a different point of view. The characters are complex and interesting and I didn't find any of them to be ripoffs of any other characters I have ever known.

Each of the first two books comes to a satisfactory end, but the third book is a triumph. It will be well worth your trouble to complete the trilogy.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

This is Book One of the Series

Starts slow but does pick up as you go, Book 2 is terrific. I couldn't put it down. Book Three takes the long way round and there are many characters that changed physical descriptions between the three, Dante changes into a whiney character for most of three even as his powers continue to manifest. These books are definitely new and fresh, worth a listen.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Starts a little slow and then gets better

This is a detective story set in a "the magic is failing" world. For the most part, you can see how the mystery is shaping up based on what the characters already know, but there are a few pieces of the puzzle that just show up out of nowhere. The story is a little frustrating, but it's also interesting. Since this is the first book in a trilogy, I should also probably say that the second book is better than this one, but the third book is worse. It's not a bad trilogy to get into, but it's probably not going to be many people's favorite.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Bad, just bad

An hour into this book, I had no idea what was happening or what it was about. I didn't want to spend 16 more hours to see if I could figure it out. I don't know if the hard copy would be of any help. Maybe the reader failed to pause at scene breaks. But long dissertations on elements bogged down what story there was. I can't recommend this book.

I think it was supposed to be a serious tale, but the narrator gave a such foppish voice to one of the main characters, I couldn't tell if it was supposed to be serious or light hearted.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful story. First two narrated beautifully

I had already read this trilogy before I purchased the audiobooks and it's as good as I remembered. Not Berg's best work, but still worth the read. The narrators of the first two books are superb. The narrator for Dante in the third book is so appallingly bad I almost gave up on it. Only the fact that I was engrossed in the story already, and the occasional reprieve of the POV changing back to one of the first two narrators, kept me going.

I had to turn up his chapters to 1.2 speed and it's still rather slow. He reads as if each sentence is the only one he's aware of and he over-enunciates the odd word and is overdramatic with it because it's the only chance to impress you. It's loathsome. I've learned to put up with bad writing or narration if the goal is worth it but it's really bad.

Honesty, just get the first two and content yourself that the lingering plot issues are resolved in the third book. Better yet, buy the book and read it. The story good. I'm simply shocked at how awful this last narrator is.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

it didn't capture my attention

while it may have been better if I hadn't listened to it in small Chunks, it also didn't capture my attention enough that I had to keep listening to it.