I think my biggest complaint about this book is probably the fact that the back cover text has very, very little to do with the actual plot of the novel. And if that’s my biggest complaint, I will definitely call this book a win. I’ve read every Valdemar book by Mercedes Lackey, many of the multiple times, and I have to admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of the previous series that starred Herald Mags, mostly because I felt little to no new ground was covered in regards to world-building or character creation. So it was with some trepidation that I began the next incarnation of his adventures–but I’m pleased to say that I enjoyed this installment tremendously!
Like I said, the back cover text is wrong. There is no plot to “destroy the Heralds” in this book. If that comes up in later installments of this story line, I’m totally game! Instead, I would argue that Mags is barely the hero of this particular novel at all. While I enjoyed reading about his continuing progress in making himself the King’s chief spymaster, the character development that I enjoyed most was for his girlfriend Amily. (She is even the first point of view character in the book, which speaks a lot to her importance.)
This novel had everything that I have come to love from Valdemar books, with one bonus: Now that Lackey has firmly (more than firmly) established the rules of her world with regards to Companions, Heralds, and the bonds between them, it was more than time for her to start breaking them. The way in which Amily is Chosen in this book kept things very fresh for me, and I almost wish Lackey had spent more time on how things work out with Amily’s father (though I understand the limits of POV that precluded this).
I’m also a total sucker for court politics and intrigue, so watching Amily learn that dance was a delight. I am excited to see how Amily’s mastery of courtly machinations and Mags’ continued development of his underworld network combine in future books. Perhaps that is when they must fight against a plot to destroy the Heralds? I’ll definitely be reading to find out.
Rating: 4 (out of 5) stars.
Currently reading: Steampunk World, edited by Sarah Hans (34%)