Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The hills have spies by Mercedes Lackey

From the time they were little children Perry, Abi and Trey have been raised to keep their wits about them, keep themselves safe, and figure out how to escape if they happen to be captured.  Normal children might find the training and testing tiresome, but when your parents are both Heralds and you have grown up with the Royal children as playmates you are anything but normal.  Life in the palace complex is interesting and challenging, with classes and training, but Perry is very aware that he has not been Chosen - and so are his parents.  Despite his strong gift for animal mindspeech, Perry has not attracted the attention of any of the Companions, and with two of the Royal children Chosen it is becoming clearer that he may never be.  

On one hand Perry is okay with not being Chosen as he has other options, but on the other hand he has been raised to be a Herald and everyone expects him to follow in the footsteps of his parents.  When Mags is asked to investigate some mysterious disappearances near the Pelagirs it seems like the perfect opportunity for Mags and Perry to spend some time together alone and to work on skills that Perry will need if he is a Herald.  Disguised as a merchant trader and his son, Mags and Perry start the journey uncertain of what they will find.  It seems like something of a fools errand at first, the nebulous worries of a retired Herald with too much time on his hands, but it soon becomes clear that there is indeed something strange going on.

Someone, or something, is taking the people that no one will miss and spiriting them away.  With the help of some new strange and unexpected allies, Mags and Perry investigate, putting their own lives at risk to get to the bottom of the mystery.  With part of the conspiracy uncovered Mags must report back to the King, but Perry is determined to act, even if it means going against his fathers wishes.  It's a race against time to find the answer to the mystery, and by putting himself in harms way Perry may solve the mystery, but he risks disappearing like the other victims.  Mags has been preparing Perry for his future, but with the future upon him can he cut the apron strings and let Perry tackle the problem on his own?

One of the most startling things about reading The hills have spies is that the dust jacket description of the book and the contents of the book don't match - in any way - apart from the fact the story is about Mags and his family.  Once you get over that fact and get involved with the story it is a thoroughly engaging story that brings us back into the lives of some very familiar characters, while also introducing the next generation.  Perry and his siblings are what you would expect from children of Heralds, they are strong of character, care for the people around them, and in Perry's case have a powerful gift of animal mindspeech.  Perry is a great character and very quickly won me over, particularly because he wasn't perfect in the way that some of the other characters are/were.  The story was well paced, has lots of little interesting twists and moments that make it feel like a real quest, and you get an ending that is satisfying without being too pat and perfect.  

A very enjoyable addition to the Valdemar universe and now comes the wait for the next book in the series to see where it goes next!

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Reviewed by Brilla

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