Author: Mercedes Lackey
Publication: DAW Hardcover; 1 edition (October 4, 2011)
Description: Enter the thrilling third volume in the epic Collegium Chronicles.
In Mercedes Lackey's classic coming-of-age story, the orphan Magpie pursues his quest for his parent's identity with burning urgency-while also discovering another hidden talent and being trained by the King's Own Herald as an undercover agent for Valdemar. Shy Bardic Trainee Lena has to face her famous but uncaring father, one of Valdemar's most renowned Bards. And Healing Trainee Bear must struggle against his disapproving parents, who are pressuring Bear to quit the Healers' Collegium because he lacks the magical Healing Gift.
Each of the three friends must face his or her demons and find their true strength as they seek to become the full Heralds, Bards, and Healers of Valdemar.
My Thoughts: This was a good addition to the Collegium Chronicles. It was good to see Bear, Lena and Mags developing into their adult roles. Both Bear and Lena have parent problems and seem to get a handle on them in this volume. Bear's healer family can't understand how he can be a healer without the healing gift even though he has proved his abilities to those in Collegium. Lena has to deal with a father who is so self-centered that his only goal in life is to do what is necessary for himself to remain center stage. Lena finally decides that there is no way that she can ever gain his attention and approval and learns to stand up for herself.
Mags is the main character in this series. His problem is not family-centered. Although he would like to know about his parents and heritage because some of the bad guys seem to know more about him than he does himself. The bad guys are determined to destabilize Valdemar by killing the king and discrediting the heralds. Mags isn't about to let that happen no matter the cost to himself.
Mags grows to realize that his place is as a spy for Valdemar. He won't be one of those heralds parading around in their whites and telling the laws. He knows that his mindspeaking gifts make him really suitable for a career as a spy as does his temperament. He is determined to protect Valdemar and his friends.
The one part of this story that I had some trouble with was the fact the Mags speaks in a dialect that must be as hard for Lackey to write as it is for me to read. For example: "I was hopin' ye could git me through them County Graces horsecrap wi'out hevin' t' strain m'skull." What made it most annoying for me is that he can speak with letter-perfect grammar and diction but is retaining the dialect to develop his persona as a "thick-as-a-brick games-player."
I recommend this volume to those who have read the first two. I recommend all three books to those, like me, who are fans of Valdemar and wonder about the early days of the kingdom.
When your options were steal or starve...you couldn't exactly call those "options."I bought this one at Amazon. You can get your copy there too.