National bestselling author Carol Berg returns to the world of her award-winning Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone with an all-new tale of magic, mystery, and corruption....
How much must one pay for an hour of youthful folly? The Pureblood Registry accused Lucian de Remeni-Masson of “unseemly involvement with ordinaries,” which meant only that he spoke with a young woman not of his own kind, allowed her to see his face unmasked, worked a bit of magic for her....After that one mistake, Lucian’s grandsire excised half his magic and savage Harrowers massacred his family. Now the Registry has contracted his art to a common coroner. His extraordinary gift for portraiture is restricted to dead ordinaries—beggars or starvelings hauled from the streets.
But sketching the truth of dead men’s souls brings unforeseen consequences. Sensations not his own. Truths he cannot possibly know and dares not believe. The coroner calls him a cheat and says he is trying to weasel out of a humiliating contract. The Registry will call him mad—and mad sorcerers are very dangerous....
Berg returns to Sanctuary (most recently depicted in Flesh and Spirit) for this captivating and satisfying fantasy epic, the first of a pair. Lucian de Remeni-Masson, a young pureblood sorcerer and a child of privilege, loses his family and fortune as the Kingdom of Navronne reels from a fratricidal civil war. The action truly takes off once Lucian is forced into the service of Bastien de Caton, the coroner of Palinur, and begins using his magical capabilities to identify the unnamed dead. With an impressive command of language, sure-handed plotting, and perceptive characterizations, Berg traces the arc of Lucian's arduous quest to solve the murders of several illegitimate royals. Lucian constantly appears on the verge of failure, but Berg deftly displays his psychological development and convincingly paves the way for him to earn his escape through self-knowledge and self-sacrifice.