Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Book Review: The Hills Have Spies by Mercedes Lackey

The Hills Have Spies
Author: Mercedes Lackey
Series: Valdemar: Family Spies (Book 1)
Publication: DAW (June 5, 2018)

Description: In this new series, set in the bestselling world of Valdemar, Heralds Mags and Amily must continue to protect the realm of Valdemar while raising their children and preparing them to follow in their footsteps.

Mags, Herald Spy of Valdemar, and his wife, Amily, the King’s Own Herald, are happily married with three kids. The oldest, Peregrine, has the Gift of Animal Mindspeech—he can talk to animals and persuade them to act as he wishes. Perry's dream is to follow in his father's footsteps as a Herald Spy, but he has yet to be Chosen by a Companion.

Mags is more than happy to teach Perry all he knows. He regularly trains his children, including Perry, with tests and exercises, preparing them for the complicated and dangerous lives they will likely lead. Perry has already held positions in the Royal Palace as a runner and in the kitchen, useful places where he can learn to listen and collect information.

But there is growing rural unrest in a community on the border of Valdemar. A report filled with tales of strange disappearances and missing peddlers is sent to Haven by a Herald from the Pelagirs. To let Perry experience life away from home and out in the world, Mags proposes that his son accompany him on an expedition to discover what is really going on.

During their travels, Perry’s Animal Mindspeech allows him to communicate with the local wildlife of the Pelagirs, whose connection to the land aids in their investigation. But the details he gleans from the creatures only deepen the mystery. As Perry, Mags, and their animal companions draw closer to the heart of the danger, they must discover the truth behind the disappearances at the border—before those disappearances turn deadly.

My Thoughts: This new Valdemar story takes place after Mags and Amily have married and had three children. Mags is a Herald spy and Amily is the King's Own herald. They have three children. This story talks about a trip Mags takes with his oldest son, thirteen-year-old Perry.

All of Mags and Amily's children have been taught to take care of themselves and to be spy-like. It is likely that they will all choose to serve Valdemar whether or not they are chosen by Companions and become Heralds themselves. Perry has animal mindspeech which allows him to talk to most kinds of animals. He can see through their eyes which is a great advantage for a budding spy. He can also direct them to do things for him.

When a retired herald sends a message about a large number of people going missing around his area, Mags decides to investigate and decides to take Perry along for a chance at some training outside the city. This herald's village is on the edge of the Pelagirs which has long been known for strange events and beings.

They soon find themselves involved in a situation that is much more complex and dangerous than Mags would have wanted for a training mission. Someone is kidnapping lone travelers and taking them somewhere unknown. When they discover that the kidnapper has mindspeech powerful enough to control a whole troop of mercenaries, Mags is all for sending information back to the King and keeping out of the way. But Perry feels the need to do something NOW.

Perry and his new companion Larral who is a kyree go to the kidnapper's fortress in the guise of a Dog-Boy to take care of the mastiff pack that is there. Perry puts on the persona of a simple-minded kid which, along with his shields, helps him conceal his mindspeech from the kidnapper. The only problem is that he doesn't have a way back out of the fortress and things are getting more and more dangerous as the kidnapper tries to enhance his mindspeech with blood magic and gets more insane all the time. He even awakens the spirit of the fortress and creates another enemy for himself.

There was all sorts of tension in this story as Perry and Larral investigate inside and Mags tries to figure out how to rescue his son and neutralize the kidnapper before he gets the idea of invading Valdemar.

I enjoyed this coming of age story. Perry's experiences give him a new point of view on his father and his decisions mature him. I can't wait to read more in this new series to learn more about Mags and Amily's other children.

Favorite Quote:
Suddenly...his father wasn't all-knowing and all-seeing. Suddenly he realized that as smart and observant and clever as his father was, there were still things he didn't know.

And what was more, his father was willing to admit that he didn't know them.

And that unsettling understanding made him feel a little as if he had been struck by lightning. 
I bought this one. You can buy your copy here.

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