Review: The Daemon Prism

Posted: January 31, 2012 by in Books We Love (5/5 single_star) Meta: Carol Berg, Fantasy

I’ve been looking forward to reading THE DAEMON PRISM (Amazon) since reading THE SOUL MIRROR (EBR Review) in May. I had no clue what to expect, or where Carol Berg was going with the story. After the stunning climax in MIRROR, what else could happen? As it turns out, there’s an even bigger plot we haven’t discovered yet.

At the end of book two, Anne and Dante retire to the country where he can teach Anne her new-found magic skills. Portier has gone into hiding to recover from the events on the mount, but also to study the myths and history that would make people believe he is a Saint Reborn. They had discovered and thwarted the nefarious plots of the aspirant–but it turns out that the conspiracy is even deeper, and they must stop the evil that would bind the world of the living and dead together permanently.

SPIRIT was narrated in first person by Portier, MIRROR by Anne, but DAEMON is primarily Dante, a PoV that is a complicated, tortured soul. He’s proved in every book that he’s willing to do despicable things in order to see the mystery through, and will even risk his friendships and the relationship with the woman he loves. Berg has made a deliciously tortured character in Dante, whose past has shaped him, and we finally get to see in DAEMON exactly what that means. Many are convinced he’s the evil that needs to be stopped, but Anne, Portier, and Illario are steadfast in their trust that he’s doing what’s ultimately the right thing. In DAEMON Anne, Portier, and even Illario make brief appearances as first person viewpoints to round out the narrative; but here, it’s Dante who shines.

When the narrative started I had a hard time understanding how this new plot line continued that of the previous books. It begins with Anne returning home to her parents to help with the household, leaving the blind Dante alone and feeling abandoned. Until a former soldier appears at his doorstep with a dream that has tormented him for years, and fears it will cause him to go insane. But Dante learns that the dream is actually someone looking for him, and he’s compelled to find out what it’s really about–something about magic stones and setting free the beautiful woman trapped by them.

I tried to figure out how this seemingly random storyline coincided with the previous books, and for a long time I felt like it was a contrivance. But, as in the previous books, patience wins out–Berg has a bigger picture in mind through the entire series. Dante’s story is compelling, and it’s worth the wait to watch it slowly build and come together in the final climax of the series.

We also see more of the world outside of Sabria; before we were limited to the capital city and a few areas around it. This time we travel to Dante’s hometown and beyond, to cities where history is catching up to and influencing the present. Berg’s world is varied without being overwhelming, with a rich history that’s interesting to unravel and explore. I only wish there were more.

If you’ve read the previous books, yes THE DAEMON PRISM is worth the effort to see it through. Berg does take her sweet time telling the story, but there is a purpose to it, and when the threads start coming together in the final 70 or so pages, everything gets mashed up and jumbled and exciting.

THE DAEMON PRISM concludes the series with unexpected revelations--all while introducing us to complicated characters and a magic system worth exploring.

I know I gush; however, I’m not completely blind to the book’s imperfections, including some unanswered questions, abruptly tied off character story lines, and pacing issues through the middle of the book. Yet, they are small issues when one looks at the series as a whole, because the overarching narrative is fascinating and compelling.

Can you read THE DAEMON PRISM without reading the first two? No, and you wouldn’t want to. The previous novels are worth the slow buildup of information–magical, historical, religious, character–and the time it takes to see this series to the very end.

  • Recommended Age: 16+ more for comprehension than content
  • Language: Fewer than five instances
  • Violence: Death, torture, and grisly magic rites, much more than in previous books
  • Sex: Referenced and described in a handful of instances (including as part of a death ritual), although without detail


  • mtbikemom says:

    Great review! Carol is really coming into her prime as a writer, methinks. The characters are so well-drawn and complex, with such believable motivation. I like my fantasy to ring true, oddly enough.

    The pace of this book never flagged for me like some of Berg's other books, except maybe the third quarter somewhat, and I agree with you about some unsatisfying plot resolutions, but that just made the whole thing more unpredictable and added to the suspense. The end is delicious and bittersweet. I don't often want to get right back for a re-read, but this series tempts me.

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