The first book in a fantasy trilogy Collegia Magica centered on politics and lies.
Publication year: 2010
Running time: 17 hours and 18 minutes
Narrator: David DeVries
Portier de Savin-Duplais is a librarian in his country’s last magical college where mages called the Camarilla are trained. In this land, the ability to use magic is linked to the royal bloodline which has lots of offshoots. Portier is the 15. cousin of the current king, Phillippe, but he doesn’t have any magical abilities which he resents bitterly. But when King Phillippe sends for him, Portier abandons his work and becomes a spy for the king. About a year ago, there was an attempt to kill the King with a magical poisoned arrow and the lead investigator, one of the King’s most trusted old friends, have disappeared and the remaining evidence points to the King’s wife. The Queen is in disfavor with the populace because she believes in magic and also employs two sorcerers. The assassin left behind evidence that he could be “a mule”; a person whom a mage has been bleeding to use his blood in magic. The King assigns to Portier a trusted knight so that Portier can more easily join the servants of the nobles whom he is supposed to be spying on. But chevalier Ilario de Sylvae turns out to be a buffoon who only cares about fashion – and his half-sister who is the Queen. But Ilario is the Queen’s illegimate brother so he’s not considered an heir to the throne. Portier realizes that he also needs a sorcerer and goes to a mysterious mage, Dante, whose heretical thoughts and hatred of other humans separates him from other mages.
But the trio has a very difficult task ahead to ferret out the people responsible for the assassination attempt and find proof. However, they find out an even more intricate conspiracy buried in lies and deceptions at every turn.
Portier is the first-person narrator. He has quite a low opinion of himself and while working in the library he had really no hope of any other future. He’s poor and hasn’t a hope of marrying. His father resented the fact that Portier didn’t have magic and even tried to kill Portier over it. In self-defense Poertier had killed his father which torments him. But as a spy he has to interact with a lot of people so he’s plunged into quite a different life and adjusts to it quite well. Also, all of a sudden he seems to have something to expect in his life.
Dante has a terrible temper and he puts down Portier often, as well as other people around him. He’s arrogant and cares only about magic and learning. He also uses magic differently than other mages which shocks Portier and if other people knew about it, Dante would be headed to the inquisition. One of his hands is crippled and I suspect he might be in pain and that is at least part of the reason for his temper.
The three main characters are uneasy with each other and Portier plays the peacemaker between them and swallows Dante’s insults almost without a word. Yet, they need each other and have to stay together in order to solve the mysteries.
This isn’t an epic fantasy book. There are very few “action”/fight scenes and mostly Portier is almost a detective. He has to lie a lot, too, because he can’t be a spy out in the open and become quite an accomplished liar in a short time.
I loved the magic system and the world-building. The world-building is intricate with magic inte-grated into the society. While common people believe in magic they don’t believe in the Camarilla mages who are trained in the collage. They think that the Camarilla are liars and spin only illusions. The Camarilla believe that they know everything about magic and forbid harshly all other magic. People also believe that what they do will influence how they dead kin are “progressing” through the afterlife towards heaven and they have temple readers who can tell them where on the path a dead family member is. Oh and the society worships the father creator instead of multiple gods, as is more common in fantasy.
King Phillippe doesn’t believe in magic but in science and scientists have made significant advances. Most people use scientific inventions in the lives rather than spells.
The reader’s voice was almost too smooth (except for Ilario’s voice). Too often I found my concen-tration drifting from listening the book. Of course, that could be entirely my own fault.