The second book in the Collegia Magica fantasy series. The main character Anne was a minor character in the first book “The Spirit Lens”.
Publication year: 2011
Running time: 17 hours and 18 minutes
Narrator: Angele Masters
Four years ago Anne de Vernais’ father was tried in absentia and found guilty of treason, murder, and the use of foulest magic. He’s still on the run. This judgement has torn her family apart: her mother is crazy and lives with Anne’s uncle far away, and Anne’s own younger brother is a hostage and kept in the most notorious prison in the land. Anne is the only one left to care for the estate but without money that task is increasingly hard.
Anne’s younger sister is the only one who hasn’t been affected as much because she’s a student in the Collegia Seravain, studying magic. But now her tutors have send a message that she had died in a magical accident. Anne travels to the university but her sister has already been hurriedly buried and she finds no answers to her questions. Anne herself doesn’t believe in magic and the cavalier way her sister’s death is handled makes her furious to all so-called magicians.
But when Anne returns home a visitor is waiting for her with terrible news: the king commands her to come to the court as one of the queen’s maids of honor. The king has given away de Vernais estate and Anne no longer has a home. She’s able to take with her only a few things, among them books and her sister’s things. The messenger is none other than Portier de Savin-Duplais, the man who hunted down Anne’s father’s conspiracy and made Anne take the stand against her father. She loathes him but it turns out that he has been appointed her “jailer”; the one whom she has to report every few days. Portier is also the manager of the queen’s household.
Anne has no choice: she’s dragged to the court where she hasn’t been in many years and where she’s just a traitor’s backcountry daughter. But the court is full of schemers, the king is away in war, and the queen is sickly and since she hasn’t been able to produce a live heir, people are thinking that king Philippe will set her aside and take another wife. The queen’s step-mother has a lot of power. The queen is a great supporter of magic and she has one court magician. Dante is ill-tempered and feared by the whole court. He’s also whispered to be a necromancer. But almost nothing is as it seems at first glance.
Anne is only 22 and not familiar with courtly ways but she endures at first and soon she’s trying to get to see her brother and get to the bottom of the mysteries surrounding her father. On the way, she finds out a lot about herself and the world around her.
Most of the characters are the same as in the first book, the Spirit Lens, but Anne sees them very differently and doesn’t know their history and secrets. This gives them another viewpoint.
This is a wonderful mystery story with twists and turns. The world is gorgeous; lots of details and people. Excellent continuation to the previous book and it sets up the third book wonderfully.