The Daemon Prism (Collegia Magica #3) by Carol Berg
January 3, 2012
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “You say you can see what lies within me, lady. Tell me I am not going to destroy the light.”
The Daemon Prism is the final installment of Berg’s complex renaissance based character driven trilogy, The Collegia Magica. It picks up not long after The Soul Mirror ends. Each book in this trilogy has been presented from one character’s viewpoint. The Spirit Lens was from Portier de Savin-Duplais, The Soul Mirror from Anne de Vernase, and our final journey is told from Dante, the catalyst in the whole series. Blinded and crippled after battling a vindictive enemy in The Soul Mirror, Dante is struggling to deal with the tremendous loss he feels he has suffered. Ms Berg’s wonderful use of prose makes Dante’s voice irresistible as he takes us on an incredulous journey fraught with mystery, intrigue, and fantasy. The incredible world building continues to superbly translate the emotions and feelings of Dante as he tries to come to terms with his blindness and eventual loss of magic. The overall storyline is elegant in it’s ebb and flow with a lyrical prose that dips deep into a well of darkness and despair that wasn’t present in the first two books.
Dante has made it his mission to teach the practical and stubborn Anne de Vernase how to wield and control her powerful magic. He knows the time will come when he will no longer be able to command the elements himself so he uses what little time he has left to pass his knowledge on. Anne, needing a rest from Dante and the insane pressures of his teaching, makes plans to visit her family. She departs, promising Dante she will return to him. When a battle scarred solder comes to Dante, begging help against powerful dreams of a magical crystal and a beautiful ghost, Dante sees his chance to be the man he once was. Dante knows deep down this is a trap and will probably be the end of him, but he agrees and is joined on his journey by an old companion, the chameleon chevalier, Ilario de Sylvae.
I love a well executed ending and Ms. Berg delivers that here in spades. Deception, sacrifice, madness, and redemption continue to be the main courses in which the reader sups upon when reading this final installment. A trap has been set and baited, with Dante as the prize. We follow his journey as it takes him to the truth of his own beginnings and destiny as he learns of his past, present, and possible future. Once again, past events are brought forth and viewed through various eyes, convincing us that what we have read and judged as absolute truth are nothing but wisps of facts and fiction, interweaving together to produce yet another version of the story. The explanations of the magic(s) involved continued to be overly elaborate and expounded on to the point of confusion. I found myself skimming through these parts to get back to the action of the story.
Various subplots run through out the main story, running independently until they merge together to form the big picture. Anne soon enters the narrative once she realizes why Dante has committed to this journey. His ulterior motives are finally revealed-he believes the crystal’s magic has something to do with his missing friend, Portier de Savin-Duplais. Both friend and enemy, Dante discovers that Portier is to be destroyed and his body used to raise the evil mage that Anne and Dante killed in The Soul Mirror. I loved once again seeing the connection between Anne and Dante. It gives a romantic element to the story in that they are physically separate throughout most of the book yet linked through their thoughts and actions. Dante realizes through this connection just how much he needs Anne.
Secondary characters, friends and foes alike, all hold exact places within the story, propelling it forward and imparting valuable information along the way. I will admit that towards the end we are subjected to rapidly switching narratives as everyone joins the fray and the story seems to stumble through these parts. Overall this installment didn’t have the same smoothness to it the last two had but in no way does it take away from your reading pleasure. 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.
Overall Rating: B+