The Phoenix and the Mirror

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The Phoenix and the Mirror was published in 1969 and is the first novel in the first Vergil Magus series, written by Avram Davidson. The book, which is set in a fantastic medieval prolongation of the Roman Empire, concerns Vergil's quest to forge a "virgin speculum" (mirror) for the purpose of divination. The construction of such a mirror requires the use of unsmelted copper ore and tin, precipitating a quest to Cyprus, the source of copper in the ancient world. The story also includes a brazen head, which lends its name to Vergil's house.