Dust and Light: A Sanctuary Novel

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It leaves me panting for the second book.

A Sanctuary Novel: Dust and Light : A Sanctuary Novel 1 by Carol Berg (2014, Paperback)

And her writing. Oh, her writing. There is a reason why Berg is one of my top 5 favorite authors, and she pulls out her considerable arsenal of skills for this book. Perhaps she is a genius.

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Everything [Carol Berg]does well is here, against the backdrop, once again, of a plausible and suspenseful political upheaval. These oddities had gone on nigh half a year. Reason could explain none of it. No matter reason or belief, my fears were undeniable. Reason did not always hold sway, and purebloods were not immortal. Without looking back, I raced from the alley into the busy boulevard that led uphill to the Tower. The subject, an overripe girl of fourteen, had come into the Pureblood Registry the previous day for her biennial portrait, which seemed a silly exercise in the face of such world-shaping events as war and disastrous winter.

Instead of the pups and roses she wanted as her background setting, my fingers had insisted on drawing wrecked houses and hanged men. A quick comparison to the actuality on the page, and my will released the enchantment waiting in my fingers like liquid fire. Even so mundane an evocation of magic filled me with awe and divine purpose.

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No matter personal grief or inexplicable megrims, magic held me centered—an inexhaustible source of wonder. The fire in the grate had left the tower studio stifling. Blotting my fingers, I hurried across the cluttered chamber to the fogged casements and twisted the latch, welcoming a drift of cold air. Better to be here than down below. My boots were dry. The air was quiet. Here in the chambers of those who administered the lives of pureblood sorcerers, all was as it had ever been: serene, unhurried, and well disciplined, separate from the chaos of ordinaries, as the gods intended.

A bitter draft swooshed through the tower room, riffling fifty loose pages before the door slammed shut again behind a rumpled giant. I thought I was never going to get here this morning. A thousand beggars were tearing each other apart to get at them. And yesterday it was geese.

And the day before—hmm—your manservant spilled your morning posset on your sleeve? Gilles attracted disorder like beggars attracted fleas.

Tripping over his own feet or annoying his hound served as well as riot or ill wind. I appreciated Gilles. He had mentored me when my first contract brought me to the Registry Archives, and he had taken it with grace when I was given a senior commission of six major portraits only a few years later. Although his uncle was a Registry curator, he had never been offered one. Our skills meshed well; I worked better with younger men and with elders of both genders, Gilles with middle-aged women and fidgety children.

We had even supped together several times over the years when our work kept us late. An ordinary might describe us as friends, though such frivolous relationships were discouraged in pureblood society.


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I closed my eyes and summoned discipline. My grandsire had been wise to negotiate my first contract with the Registry itself. Young and stupid, I had chafed at the limitations of a Registry position. A contract with a town, a hierarch, or a noble family outside Palinur would certainly have fetched better terms—more prestige, wider contacts, a better stipend to fill the family coffers—and surely more interesting work.

The world cannot live without pureblood magic, and our survival, as well as our prosperity, is founded on Registry discipline. Only Juli and I were left. Her tutors have stopped coming; gone into hiding, I think. Designing guildhalls? A girl of fifteen? No need to bemoan my inadequacies as surrogate parent. Juli was immensely gifted, and star-eyed about her magic despite our personal sorrows.

But her stubborn nature was going to bring us more grief. I met Master Pluvius on the stair. Of course, Master Pluvius himself—forever fussing over me—had recommended I work in shirtsleeves to keep my outer garments clean. But he also held the future of a very important commission in his hand, and he was ferocious about promptness. Just that you should come immediately.

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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? 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?