I haven’t been a huge fan of the first two Valdemar collections starring Mags, but I’ll admit that he’s a lot less annoying as an adult. Luckily, his son Perry is completely different and much easier to handle despite his young age. I enjoyed this adventure featuring both characters, especially the parent-child dynamic aspect.
Despite creating such an expansive world, Lackey continues to add new facets with each new story. The villain of this piece expands upon things we have seen before while still bringing something new to the table. The non-human allies (beyond the ever-present Companions) are also races we have seen before, but they are presented as three-dimensional characters in and of themselves. I especially liked the subtle ways in which Lackey reminds the reader that these characters are not human, and might not always have human ideals or values.
There are occasional “too stupid to live” moments for all of the characters, but overall, Perry grew on me and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of him as a full adult and where he ends up. I think the rest of this trilogy will focus on his siblings, which also makes me happy, because this particular book had little in the way of well-rounded female characters — which is the only reason it has four stars instead of five.