The Phoenix and the Mirror by Avram Davidson

The Phoenix and the Mirror by Avram Davidson

The Phoenix and the Mirror: or, The Enigmatic Speculum by Avram Davidson is a fantasy novel that tells the story of a sorcerer named Vergil Magus. This sorcerer was named for Virgil (or Publius Vergilius Maro), poet and author of The Aeneid.

In an introduction to The Phoenix and the Mirror, Davidson claims that during the Dark Ages, people tended to forget that Virgil was a poet and instead believed he was a sorcerer. The Phoenix and the Mirror was the first book in which Davidson attempted to retell the legend of this mysterious sorcerer.

Thus, this was the first book published in the Vergil Magus trilogy, though it’s chronologically the last one. The final book in the trilogy, The Scarlet Fig: or, Slowly through a Land of Stone, was not published until 2005, twelve years after Davidson’s death.

Davidson was an author of science fiction and fantasy, but he also wrote in the mystery genre. On top of winning a Hugo Award and three World Fantasy Awards for his speculative fiction, he also won an Edgar award for his work in the mystery genre.

The Phoenix and the Mirror by Avram Davidson - Back Cover

To illustrate a bit of Davidson’s personality, his author bio inside the book contains this whimsical sentence:

Avram Davidson presently lives in a house called “Far Fetch” in Northern California, where the air of fantasy is shared by his young son Ethan, who much prefers to be called Frodo.

The eerily abstract cover art by the husband-and-wife team of Leo and Diane Dillon. Together, they created covers and illustrations for more than 100 books, and virtually all of their work was done as a team.

The Dillons were awarded the Caldecott Medal two years in a row (1976 and 1977), and they were nominated for the Hans Christian Andersen award in 1978 and 1996.