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.
fantasy in Hardcover edition that was published by DAW Books on October 2, 2012 and has 330 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, Harvest Moon, World Divided, Elemental Magic: All New Tales of the Elemental Masters, Sacrifices, Steadfast, Burdens of the Dead, Bastion, 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, A Scandal in Battersea
Fourth in the Collegium Chronicles, a sub-series in the overall Valdemar series for young adults. This particular subset revolves around the Herald-Trainee Mags and his Companion Dallen.
If you’re interested, there is a chronological listing of the Valdemar books on my website.
Oooh, we delve a bit further into Mags’ mysterious background! I must say, Lackey had me worried toward the end of Changes.
Story-wise, the first half was more of a day-in-the-life of Mags and his friends. It’s actually more interesting than I’ve made it sound as it includes Bear and Lena’s new adventures and Bear’s father’s trouncing (yes!!); the spying missions that Mags undertakes within the town; and, the Kirball games at which Mags excels. It’s the second half that becomes a lot more “exciting” and dangerous. It also furthers Mags (and our) discovery of a lot more about his past as well as back history on how the Karsite religion got so far out of whack.
Oh, wow…Bear makes the gravest pronouncement on his father. Totally fair, and utterly devastating.
I must say, I don’t understand why Mags’ kidnappers were so secretive. I would have thought providing him with some background would have achieved a great deal more. Although, there would have been less chance of our meeting Franse and Reaylis!
Good lessons in here for the kids (and adults!): independence, confidence, humility, the importance of not labeling someone, and a look at how the skills of others can be adapted to one’s own interests — making lessons in seemingly silly subjects suddenly appear desirable. There’s an incident in here about the importance of loyalty and keeping secrets and a great example of making mature decisions. I love the bit of charity Nikolas provides a woodworker. It’s helping without rubbing the man’s nose in it!
I certainly feel a strong desire to learn something about woodcraft and gathering food!
I like how Lackey handled the dream sequence and the very real feel she created with Mags waking up from the drugs with which the kidnappers plied him. There was a lovely bit of practical diplomatic philosophy on the part of Reaylis as well. It’s a sweet dream to think our own politicians could ever embrace such a concept…
It opens with the unpretentious wedding of Prince Sedric and Lydia, Master Soren’s niece. The Karsite assassins who tried to take Amily have forced the celebrations to remain local and the story remains local with everyday events for the first half.
Part of Mags’ tasks is to go undercover as Harkon in the pawnshop for Willie the Weasel. It’s on his way home that he feels the watcher. A mysterious presence that neither he nor Dallen can classify. One to which they’ll wish they had paid more attention.
Mags, a Herald Trainee, is a Kirball star and a secret spy for Nikolas; Dallen is his Companion. His Gift is Mindspeech, being able to speak to anyone at all mind-to-mind. Mags has come a long way from the scrubby miner’s slave he was a short time ago. “Harkon” is his latest disguise under Nikolas’ tutelage. Meric is yet another persona.
Bear Tyrall is in love with Lena Marchand. He’s a Healer Trainee without a standard Gift other than that of working with herbs and she’s a Bardic Trainee whose father is in huge disgrace. Healer Tyrall is Bear’s truculent father, adamant that Bear return home and stop his nonsense. Father Poule runs a Temple of Rusal in Haven which helps the poor and Bear spends time there regularly helping to heal people.
Nikolas is the King’s Own Herald — and Willie the Weasel — and Rolan is his Companion; Amily is his unGifted daughter about whom Mags is unsure. The operation Bear tried on her has worked! Gennie is the captain of the Kirball team Mags is on. Herald Caelen is the Dean of the Collegium and one of the very few who know about Mags’ extracurricular activities for Nikolas. Finny is a trainee with a Gift for Fetching; Mags will put a word in for her.
Brother Franse is a Karsite Red-robe who rescued Mags. Reaylis is a Suncat, a holy creation of the Sunlord Vkandis.
Cole Pieters was the sadistic brute who abused and used toddlers on up to teens to mine jewels. Kan-li and Levor have been sent by the Shadao to retrieve something valuable that was lost. Only, they have a really stupid approach…
The Cover and Title
The cover is consistent with the previous three in this sub-series. Diagonal streaks of a variety of golden suns and their rays are streaming across the deep, deep blue background. A solid, rounded-corner box above contains the necessary text of author, title, and tagline while the same size and shaped frame focus our attention on a lilac Dallen and a raggedy Mags, both crouched to avoid a hail of arrows.
I think the title refers to what Mags discovers, that his Redoubt is his friends and the love they all share, for it holds him strong.