Mags has never had a quiet life, and as a full Herald his life is particularly full of intrigue and danger. After solving the mystery of where he came from Mags is finally ready to settle down in Haven to as normal a life as he can given he is learning to be the Kings Spy from Nikolas, and hiding his relationship with Amily until they can safely wed. His hopes of a relatively quiet settling in period are short lived however because two families involved in a bitter feud have arrived at Haven for the Midwinter season and it will take some serious work to keep them apart and away from each others throats. When a freak accident nearly costs Nikolas his life Rolan Chooses Amily and sends all their plans into a spin.
Suddenly Amily's life is not her own, and she has to balance the intrigues of the Court and the people in it with learning how to be not only a Herald, but the King's Own Herald. With Rolan by her side and her years of study to support her Amily will have little trouble with the facts and figures of her role, but it is the people that are truly challenging to any King's Own and with a feud at Court it will be even more challenging than normal. Tasked with keeping the feuding factions apart Mags and Amily are hard pressed to keep up with the mischief and danger as each party maneuvers to get what they want - no matter what the cost. With the younger generation as eager to fight for what they believe in as the older generation all hell could break loose at any moment.
Closer to home is the latest book set in the world of Valdemar and is both a tease and a satisfying read - a tease because the first book in a new series always drops little hints about what is to come, and satisfying because it always feels like I have reconnected with old friends whenever I reenter Valdemar. It is not clear if this is the start of a new trilogy or a longer series, for the first time Mercedes Lackey really broke the trilogy mould with the Collegium Chronicles (standalones have happened before but never five books in a series) so there is a chance there could be more than just two more books in the series. With Mags the focus of the Collegium Chronicles it really feels like this series has picked up where we last left off, more so than the change between previous series set in later time periods.
There is a lot to like here and very little not to like - there are vividly rendered characters, careful plot building, and the beginnings of a story arc that will obviously encompass the rest of the series. My one bug bear with these novels is the way Mags speaks in some parts of the books, I know he speaks commonly but sometimes it seems as though it is laid on a little it thick and exaggerated just a little too much. The budding relationship between Mags and his informants, and the unveiling of court secrets for Amily make this both an accessible read and an entertaining one. I have to confess that I became rather invested in one of the characters and kept rooting for them and hoping things would work out for them, and once again I was often left smiling by the antics and acidic wit of the Companions.
Hopefully we do not have to wait too long for book two in the series because while this was a satisfying read in itself, you just know that there is something coming on the horizon and that it will probably be big!
If you like this book then try:
- Foundation by Mercedes Lackey
- Magic's pawn by Mercedes Lackey
- Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey
- Burning brightly by Mercedes Lackey
- Sing the four quarters by Tanya Huff
- If I pay thee not in gold by Piers Anthony and Mercedes Lackey
- Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey
- Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
- The diamond throne by David Eddings
- Cast in shadow by Michelle Sagara
Reviewed by Brilla