Thursday, February 22, 2024

Audiobook Review: Intrigues by Mercedes Lackey


Mercedes Lackey
Narrator: Nick Podehl
Series: Collegium Chronicles (Book 2)
Publication: Brilliance Audio (October 11, 2010)
Length: 10 hours and 9 minutes

Description: Mags was an orphan and slave of ‘bad blood’ who toiled in a gem mine all his young life. He would have died before adulthood, had he not been Chosen and taken to Haven to be trained in the new Herald Collegium.

Now, Mags was never hungry and never cold. He slept in a real bed in his own room and, most importantly, he had Dallen, who was like another part of himself. And yet, aside from Lena and Bear, both loners like he was, he couldn’t relate to most of the Herald, Healer, or Bard trainees. He was the only trainee who came from what - to the others - was unimaginable poverty.

There was another factor that contributed to Mag’s isolation. Foreign assassins, masquerading at court as envoys, were discovered. As they fled from the Guard, one of them seemed to “recognize” Mags. Now, Mags was an object of suspicion.

He had always been curious about his parents, but after the incident it became urgent for Mags to discover exactly who his parents were. And at Haven, he had access to the extensive Archives. Poring through the Archives, he got only incomplete information: his parents, found dead in a bandit camp, had been two of a number of hostages, some of whom had survived. The survivors had told the Guard that Mags’ parents spoke a language that no one understood or recognized.

This information did not help, for the ForeSeers had been having visions of the king’s assassination by “one of the foreign blood”. Some had even Seen Mags with blood on his hands. How could Mags defend himself against a crime that hadn’t yet been committed?

My Thoughts: The second of the Collegium Chronicles sees Mags beginning to fit in at the Collegium. While still mainly a loner who feels he has nothing in common with most of the other students, he has made some friends with Lena and Bear and Amily. Each of them are different than the other students too. 

When Lena's father comes to the Collegium, Mags learns that he is a famous bard who had ignored Lena all her life. He is totally self-centered, but Lena wants his love and approval. He can only see her if there is some way he can use her like when Mags becomes a champion at a new sport being developed and when Mags becomes a hero for saving Bear's life when he's kidnapped.

Meanwhile Bear is facing his own problems. He comes from a family of healers, but he doesn't have the magical gift of healing. However, he is an excellent herbalist consulted by everyone including senior healers at his school. And he is good at surgery and other healing too. But his family wants him to come home, get married, and sire children who might have the healing gift. He's under constant pressure because of their demands.

Then Mags comes in for his share of pressure when those who can see the future predict that someone foreign born will assassinate the king. Mags has just learned that his parents were captives of bandits and were from some unknown country. That makes Mags immediately an object of suspicion. And since part of his heraldic gifts includes a touch of empathy, Mags is totally aware of the suspicions which feed into his own insecurity about his right to be a Herald. 

This was an emotional story with Mags and his friends all dealing with deep personal issues. But there is also the problem of the foreign envoys who disappeared from the palace and have some sort of hidden agenda. They seem to have some mind gifts to go along with their agenda and only Mags is able to tune into them. 

This was a fun story with great worldbuilding. I'm enjoying watching Mags build confidence and become a Herald of Valdemar. 

I bought this one from Chirp Audiobooks. You can buy your copy here.

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