I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
This fantasy is a hardcover edition that was published by DAW Books on October 1, 2013 and has 342 pages.
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Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Unnatural Issue, "The River's Gift", Finding the Way and Other Tales of Valdemar, Foundation, Intrigues, Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit, Owlknight, Charmed Destinies, Changes, Beauty and the Werewolf, Invasion, Home From the Sea, Dead Reckoning, Conspiracies, Bedlam's Edge, Crown of Vengeance, Redoubt, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Victories, Blood Red, The House of the Four Winds, Games Creatures Play, Closer to Home, Born to Run, Wheels of Fire, When the Bough Breaks, Chrome Circle, Changing the World: All-New Tales of Valdemar, Under the Vale and Other Tales of Valdemar, Arcanum 101, A Tangled Web, Winter Moon, Moving Targets and Other Tales of Valdemar, Elementary: All-New Tales of the Elemental Masters, No True Way: All-New Tales of Valdemar, From a High Tower, Hunter, Closer to the Heart, Silence, A Study in Sable, Elite, Closer to the Chest, Tempest: All-New Tales of Valdemar
Fifth in the Collegium Chronicles, a fantasy subseries for middle-grade readers in the Valdemar main series, which revolves around Mags and his Companion, Dallen. If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.
This one takes up where Redoubt, 4, left off, with Mags rescued and about to increase his knowledge about his dead parents and the family to which he’s related. It has its adventures, and the encounter with family is interesting, but it doesn’t advance the story a great deal. It’s more of a fill-in for Mags. To learn more about the people from whom his parents fled.
I did appreciate Healer Raynard’s point when he responded to Herald Farnten’s protest, when he said he wanted to learn more from Bear about using herbs for healing. That Farnten doesn’t use his Gift to Fetch to grab an apple from across the room.
I do love how well Lackey paints a scene. I always feel as though I’m right there with her characters — whom I also love. Lackey has such terrific characters who exemplify friendship, loyalty, and love. She’s also very evenhanded in her mix of the sexes as well with women having important jobs as well as the men. I can feel the wind bristling through their clothes, the smell of the forests they ride through, the fear of battle, the taste of that stew Jakyr fixes…
Ooh, interesting tidbit Dallen dropped about Tylendel. I may have to go back and do some rereading of the early Valdemar stories. And Mags and Amily finally hook up, all the way, now that they’re out from under everyone’s spying eyes! It’s sweetly, sadly, funny how worried Mags is about making it good for Amily, and he asks Jakyr for advice. Mags also discovers a new skill he has with his Gift of Mindspeaking.
Good life lessons in here in which Lackey, er, Mags and Dallen debate the security of a known place against the insecurity of learning the truth about the world. The differences between the mine, being in Haven and training to be a Herald, and what would have probably been expected of him with his birth family.
Lots of back history here about Mags’ being rescued from the mine and his family and their culture as well as more about Jakyr, how the people of Valdemar are compensated for losing their children to the Heralds, and more about Valdemar’s laws. There’s a lovely bit about a particular village’s independence and how that independence will affect them. You’ll be laughing and rolling on the floor, even as you reflect on our own having to pay taxes…sigh… Mags brings up a good point too: how it costs more to protect such a distant place than their taxes could possibly cover. I did enjoy Jakyr’s response to this. The incident is also another example of what happens when you allow bullies to take over.
I dunno…in going through my notes, I’m already wanting to re-read this one!
The memories forced on Mags in Redoubt, 4, are plaguing him in his dreams, and his not being on the Kirball team hurts him in his heart even as he realizes what playing means for him. Worse is his realizing that the assassins will never stop as long as he’s alive.
It’s this last that sends Mags, Bear, Lena, Jakyr, and another Bard as Lena’s mentor out into the world. A bit of providence, as Dean Caelen and the rest send them to ride Circuit around the mine where Mags was originally found and near where his parents were murdered. An opportunity Mags can’t resist to learn more about his past and to protect his friends.
It’s this last that puts Mags to his greatest test yet. The threat that will force him to choose exile.
Mags, a Herald Trainee, is a Kirball star and a secret spy for Nikolas; Dallen is his Companion. Mags’ Gift is Mindspeech, being able to speak to anyone at all mind-to-mind. Meric Aket Inaken is who he was before his parents were kidnapped and killed.
Bear and Lena Tyrall are married. He’s a Healer Trainee without a standard Gift other than that of working with herbs and she’s a Bardic Trainee. Master Bard Lita is Dean of Bardic Collegium, the head of the Bardic Circle, and she has a tumultuous past history with Jakyr (Bard Purchel will be getting a crash course as dean to see how he’ll do). Herald Jakyr is the Herald who helped Dallen rescue Mags from Pieters. He’ll be Mags’ mentor on this trip. Jermayan is his Companion.
Nikolas is the King’s Own Herald teaching Mags how to be a spy and Rolan is his Companion; the self-effacing Amily is his unGifted daughter whom Mags knows he loves. Herald Caelen is the Dean of the Collegium and one of the very few who know about Mags’ extracurricular activities for Nikolas. Herald Cende assists the Chief Magistrate of Haven. Father Seneson is a language expert.
Princess Lydia sneaks off to join them on occasion. Prince Sedric is mentioned. Gennie is a friend and captain of Mags’ Kirball team; Jeffers is also on the team. Halleck is another Herald Trainee. Ard Ardson is the Wagonmaster in Haven.
Efan Sevanol is a Scentmaster. Sergeant Milles organized the supplies for the caves where the six will be staying.
The House of the Sleepgivers is Mags’ family, a once-great clan, and Bey is both heir and Mags’ cousin. The current Shadao is Bey’s father who inherited when Mags’ parents ran off. Mags’ father, Shadao Meric Beket Inaken, had the Gift of Empathy and his mother had Mindspeech.
Cole Pieters was the sadistic brute who abused and used toddlers on up to teens to mine jewels. An idiot. His son Endal has more smarts. Loran is the interloper living at the Waystation; the Headman declares his village independent of Valdemar.
The Cover and Title
The cover is consistent with previous ones: a diagonal design forming the background (this one is black and gray with a Companion running against a storm of arrows) and a rounded-corner insert of a textured gray with Mags and Lara preparing to shoot their arrows, and Bear holding a torch for them to see as snow falls. It’s very much a hint of events to come with the chill of winter and the threat of attack.
The title is that part of the country where the six are being sent: the Bastion.