Review of INTRIGUES by Mercedes Lackey (see her website)
A NOVEL OF VALDEMAR
Daw, October 2010
Former mine slave and now trainee-herald, Mags, worries about being accepted by the other herald trainees, tries to keep up his friendship with Bear and Lena, spends a lot of time riding his 'companion' (mind-talking white horse) and gets drafted to be a player in a new game designed to prepare the herald-candidates for a war they all believe is coming although nobody knows where the attack will come from.
Mags hasn't really gotten over the last set of adventures he went through (see FOUNDATION). Although he foiled the plans of the foreign spy/assassins, the foreigners themselves escaped capture and are still at large. When Mags discovers one of the spies still in the city, and when foreseers begin seeing visions of a foreign threat, Mags (who happens to be the child of foreign parents) becomes both a suspect and the primary searcher for the enemy.
Author Mercedes Lackey (see more BooksForABuck.com reviews of fantasy by Lackey) has written some wonderful stories of Valdemar...I think this series contains her best work, combining emotional depth with plenty of action and a hint of romance. There was some of this in INTRIGUES but, frankly, not enough. Watching Mags learn to play Kirball (think Quidditch on horseback instead of brooms) was boring. His sudden decision to abandon Herald school and become a kitchen drudge didn't seem motivated, and the coincidence that, with all of the nation's police, military and magical heralds on the lookout, only Mags could ever find the enemy (and he did so several times) all seemed a stretch.
Mercedes Lackey is a talented author with a way of making us care about characters, involved in the plot and invested in the outcome. INTRIGUES showed flashes of this talent, but overall, there just wasn't enough story here to fill the 328 pages (hardback version). This sub-series started out badly with Foundation. I think I'll wait for her to launch another series and give up on Mags.
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