Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: The Collegium Chronicles #2, Valdemar #8
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Easy reading, Fantasy
Publisher: Daw fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: This is important enough that they are about to be intercepted.
Mags has been an orphan working in a gem mine when his life was saved by his companion, Dallen, who took him to Haven to be trained as a Herald. Now he was never hunger and never cold. He slept in a real bed in his own room and, most importantly, he had Dallen, who was like another part of himself. And yet, aside from Lena and Bear, both loners like Mags, he couldn’t relate to most of the Herald, Healer, or Bard trainees. He was the only trainee who came from what – to the others – was unimaginable poverty. And since Mags had no tolerance for the chronic complaining of his fellow trainees, this kept him feeling like an outsider, even though he was part of an elite corps of students.
But there were other factors that contributed to his isolation. For Mags had been “recognized” by foreign assassins fleeing the court. These spies had escaped the Royal Guard and never been questioned. Now, Mags was an object of suspicion among his fellow students, and even some of his teachers. After this incident it seemed far more urgent to discover exactly who his parents were. And at Haven, he had access to the extensive Archives.
Poring through the Archives, day after day, Mags finally got some answers, but they were incomplete: his parents, found dead in a bandit camp, had been two of a number of hostages, some of whom had survived. These survivors had told the Guard that Mags’ parents spoke a language that no one understood or even recognized. So Mags’ parents were foreigners, though from what country no one seemed to have any idea.
But rather than help his situation, this information did just the opposite, for ForeSeers had been having visions of the king being assassinated by “one of foreign blood” and some had even Seen Mags with blood on his hands.
How could Mags defend himself against a crime that hadn’t yet been committed?
Intrigues returns us to the world of Mags’ and the building of the Heralds Collegium. Mags is finally settling in to his new life and his small group of friends. I love that he isn’t a popular kid, he has a select few with whom he is close, and that is enough. I’ve never understood the idea of quantity over quality with friends, and Lackey helps to drive this home. You only need a few people who really care about you, not an entourage of characters that just happen to be there.
Lackey always deals with the idea of the ‘other’ really well. Intrigues highlights this through the use of Mags’ foreign blood and the ease with which his peers believe in his guilt. The way he is completely ostracised from the group because of the vague predictions of a future teller is incredibly cruel. But, the way that his friends choose to rally to his aid is a reminder of the importance of quality in relationships, something that can be really difficult to find.
This theme of bad luck and misunderstanding is even echoed in Mags’ own friendships towards the end of the story. Childish misinterpretations and jealousies not only further this, but also remind us that we all have a little evil in ourselves. No one is perfect, and there is nothing more frustrating than reading a story about a perfect protagonist. Mags’ self-doubt and insecurities about his own worth as a human makes him even more relatable. And has given him a special place in my heart.
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