I had recently read the Lighthouse duology, also by Carol Berg, and it was one of my favorite reads from the past few years. I then discovered this more recently-written second duology that's set in the same world during the same time frame, but featuring a different set of characters. This is the first book in that second duology, The Sanctuary.
As with Lighthouse, this book is told entirely from the first-person perspective of a young man. In this series, our main character’s name is Lucian. He’s a Pureblood, which means he’s a magician who lives under a strict set of rules intended, among other things, to protect the magical bloodlines. They believe their magic is a special gift of the gods and take its use and preservation very seriously. Unlike Valen, the main character in Lighthouse, Lucian is serious and dutiful. He believes in the Pureblood way of life and he trusts the Registry. The Registry is responsible for making decisions about how Purebloods may use their magical gifts, and for contracting them out to employers. Different Purebloods have different gifts, and Lucian’s gifts involves the ability to draw portraits of people in a way that reflects the truth of who those people are. Early on in the story, the Registry terminates Lucian’s current contract and forces him into a lowly job drawing portraits of dead people for a coroner.
There’s so much more to the story, but anything more I could say would spoil various revelations that are more fun to read about for oneself. All I can say is that there are a variety of mysteries and intrigues in the story, both in relation to Lucian’s new job and in relation to recent family events. As with the Lighthouse duology, the story starts off seeming fairly straight-forward but continues to grow in complexity as things progress. I haven’t yet found it to be as twisty as Lighthouse, but it’s still a great story that keeps me interested in finding out what will happen next.
The two duologies aren’t dependent on each other. A reader could easily pick up either one without any confusion. There is consistency between them, though, in terms of major events happening at the time, which I appreciated. I enjoyed a few small references to things and people who play a larger part in the original duology, and I enjoyed an explanation this book offered for a very minor plot point that was never really explained in the previous duology.
Most of the main questions presented throughout this book are answered by the end, but the over-all plot is not resolved. At the end, there are some interesting events that indicate the next turn the story is about to take and I already have the next book queued up and ready to start.