Author: Mercedes Lackey
Publication: DAW Hardcover (October 5, 2010)
Description: Magpie is a thirteen-year-old orphan chosen by one of the magical Companion horses of Valdemar and taken to the capital city, Haven, to be trained as a Herald. Like all Heralds, Magpie learns that he has a hidden Gift-the Gift of telepathy.
But life at the court is not without obstacles. When Mags is "recognized" by foreign secret operatives whose purpose is unknown, Mags himself comes under suspicion. Who are Magpie's parents-who is he, really? Can Mags solve the riddle of his parentage and his connection with the mysterious spies-and prove his loyalty-before the king and court banish him as a traitor?
My Thoughts: I really enjoyed this second book about Mags. He is trying to find his place at the Herald's college in Haven. It is hard for him because of his past as an orphan slave-boy who was forced to work in the mines. He is gradually getting used to having enough to eat and a warm, dry place to sleep. He is even making friends for the first time in his life. Lena is a young trainee at the Bard's college and Bear is a young trainee at the Healer's college. He even has his first crush on Amily who is the daughter of the King's Herold. The King's Herold is also training him to be a spy and he goes on some missions in this story too.
The problem in this one comes as a result of the foreseers seeing the king covered with blood and Mags there too. Because Mags has learned his parents were foreigners, suspicion builds around him. He is enough of an empath that what other people think and feel about him affects him greatly. He also gets into conflicts with his two best friends. Both are having family problems and Mags doesn't know how to help them.
While this book is not marketed to YAs, I do feel that it would be a great series for young adults and even middle graders. Mags is a wonderful character. He is smart, tough, resilient, and honorable. Also the world, with Companions (talking horses) would fascinate animal lovers. This one even introduces a war game called Kirball that reminds me in some ways of the game played in the Harry Potter books* (the name of it is totally gone from my memory as I am writing this.)
I highly recommend this fantasy series. I do recommend beginning with Foundation: Book One of the Collegium Chronicles. You can get a good deal on that one at Amazon.
Gennie turned to Mags. "It's pretty simple, I was supposed to present a cup of wine to the King when I was a First Year, at a thing where he was supposed to be giving out prizes for students with poor parents that had been sponsored up here by people like Councilor Soren. I got all tongue-tied, then my feet followed my tongue. I tripped and spilled it all over his Whites. Red wine, of course."
Pip smothered a laugh. She reached out without looking and thumped him again.
"Gor, that musta' bin--" Mags shook his head. He could just imagine it. "I'd'a gotten sick on 'is boots to cap it off."
"I nearly did. And that is why the King never drinks anything but water and white wine in public, even though he loathes white wine," she said ruefully.
"And now, here you are, captain of the Team South Kirball players!" said Halleck.
Well yes." she shrugged. "You muddle through somehow--"