Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey

by on December 14th, 2010
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Intrigues is the second installment in Mercedes Lackey’s new Valdemar series The Collegium Chronicles. Intrigues continues the story of Mags, a herald trainee that is unique. He is an orphan who used to be a child slave in a mine before being chosen by Dallen. The Collegium Chronicles fill in a gap in Valdemar’s history before many of the other novels but after the Vanyel trilogy. And this particular trilogy is turning out to be a very interesting read. As always I find Lackey’s writing style is very easy and quick to read. She always writes such good characters that struggle with everyday issues.

Background: There are 7 other trilogies and 5 other novels in the Valdemar series; most of the trilogies can be read within themselves. But occasionally they will refer to the other novels. Now that Lackey has fleshed a history or timeline in the Valdemar series starting with the beginning in The Mage Wars series and ending with the most historically recent Darian’s Tales (there is a timeline in the front of every Valdemar novel); she is filling in the spaces in the history of the Kingdom of Valdemar. In this particular series, we are in the time period when the Collegium or the colleges for the Bards, Healers and Heralds were built. This is early in the history of Valdemar taking place not too far after The Last Herald Mage Trilogy.

The Kingdom of Valdemar is a very unique place. Women can be rulers, and the government tries to be fair as possible. There are four types of unique people in Valdemar. Bards–who sing so that you are transported into or experience firsthand the song; Healers–those who have herb knowledge and those that can use their energy to heal someone magically; Mages (which are in some books and not in some) who would be your magic users or could include people with gifts like fire starting, fetching and farseeing, and Heralds. Heralds are the focus of many of the Valdemar novels. Heralds are people who are selected by mythical white horses called Companions. Companions are intelligent and can mind speak to their chosen. They have the ability to see inside the person to determine whether or not they are good people therefore no bad people are chosen. Not to say they can’t have stretched the law a bit-one of the chosen in the The Heralds of Valdemar series is a thief. Heralds act as the law in Valdemar. They help defend the borders if necessary and generally ride circuits around the kingdom to settle disputes within the kingdom and to spread royal edict information. A Herald’s word is the law within the Kingdom so that the rulings they make stand as law, although the sovereign, who usually is a Herald, themselves, must approve big decisions. Heralds often have different gifts (whatever is needed by Valdemar at the time) one was a thief; there was a fire starter, a mage, and various other types. Each trilogy usually tells the story of one particular Herald and the reason why he was chosen or how Valdemar needed his gift.

Plot: In Intrigues, we continue to follow the story of Mags. He has begun to fit into Collegium life. He is making friends and has even grabbed the attention of the King’s Own Herald, Nikolas. Nikolas thinks he can train Mags to be a spy like he is which embroils Mags in a secret life that he must keep from his friends. At the same time Mags go hunting about information about his parents. He wants to find out if they were really bandits, or what. He finds out that his parents were foreign at about the same time that fareers (people who can see into the future) see a vision of the King covered with blood and they get the feeling that a foreigner is involved. Is Mags destined to kill the King? Is he the foreigner in the vision? Can Mags survive all the doubt and dirty looks he is getting from the other students in the Collegium? And can they find the real foreigner with potential blood on his hands before its too late? You will have to read the novel to find out. There are also side plots in the novel concerning some of Mags friends and their problems with their families. It will be interesting to see how these “problems” weave into the main plot.

What I enjoy most about Mercedes Lackey’s books is her characters. I love Mugs’ character. He is a person outside normal humanity so he can look at everything from a reasonable point of view, which is very refreshing. He is not emotionally swayed but neither is he heartless. I also really enjoy Dallen, Mags’ companion. Of all the companions, I can’t remember any having so much personality. He has a sense of humor and depth I don’t remember the other companions having. He is really a main character in the book. Lackey’s characters always seem like real people to me, they have depth and they grow throughout their books or trilogies. They struggle with issues that are ones you could be facing yourself.

I also really enjoy Lackey’s writing style. Her books are very easy to read. They books moved very quickly and I am never bored. I usually read them in one sitting. She usually gives us the right amount of intrigue splashed with action so that you are never bored.

I love Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series. If you are looking for a good fantasy series, hers is one of the best (but I would suggest starting The Heralds of Valdemar Series first). If you are a fan of the Valdemar series, then Intrigues fits right in and you should love it. But if you haven’t read Foundation then I would read that one first because you need the story in it to understand what is going on in Intrigues.

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